Thursday, May 12, 2016

A to Z April Challenge Reflections



I am proud to say that I completed the A to Z April Challenge every year for five consecutive years. On time!

I first discovered A-Z in 2012 through one of the blogs I followed in the Sepia Saturday group. The idea of blogging daily about my family history intrigued me, so I signed up. Since I was already a day late, my first entry was both A and B. The rest is history.

In 2012, my blog was fairly new, and so was I, a blog newbie with no idea how to “blog” about my genealogy research. I credit the A to Z April Challenge (and Sepia Saturday, too) for helping me see how to turn birth records, wills, deeds, marriage dates, and family trees into something readable.

That first year, my A-Z posts were just random stories about people in my database whose first or last names fit the letter of the day. The next year I wrote about women in my database with unusual names. Year three I got creative with “In-Laws and Out-Laws” writing about relatives (in) and friends (out) of my ancestors. Last year my maternal grandparents’ funeral guest books and sympathy cards provided names of people to research and write about. Finally this year I wrote about my childhood, something genealogists always encourage us to do for future generations.

I was inspired by fellow blogger Sue McPeak at Collect In Texas Gal who did this very theme during A-Z 2015. Unfortunately for me, she did it so much better, so right out of the gate I was disappointed in my own efforts. However, as the days moved along, I was more and more pleased with the responses from readers. Reminisce – that’s what our generation does, I suppose. At any rate, my blog felt like a lively conversation.

Frankly, I enjoy the writing side of A-Z, but the reading side has never been as enjoyable. We are not expected to read EVERY blog on the list of over 1000 participants, but we are asked to read at least 5-10 each day. In the past, I was faithful about going to the list and picking out 5 or more to read. I always found something good, something clever and creative, but far too often there were topics of no interest to me (like mythological creatures and science fiction). After day 4, I seemed to stumble repeatedly onto blogs that gave up the challenge. Frustrating.

This year was different. A post about the A-Z Challenge in a genealogy group on Facebook prompted genealogy bloggers to create a list so we could find each other. And so that is the list I read from. This was much more fun for me as a reader. I thank Diane Nolin of Beyond the BMD for getting the list started and for asking the administrators of the A-Z April Challenge to include genealogy and family history as a category next year. If they do, I just might sign on for a sixth year.


© 2016, Wendy Mathias.  All rights reserved.

17 comments:

  1. I love your blog, and I always think you have something clever to say.

    Glad there is a facebook group that helps you find one another!

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  2. You are my A-Z hero! I am in awe of you every year when I realize that you post every darned day!

    I loved your theme this year as it brought back so many memories for me, as well as others. It's fun to learn about others' childhoods as even though they were so different, they were also so similar.

    Well done. And please sign up for it again next year!

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    1. I expect to see you there. Start your list now!

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  3. It amazes me that you could keep up with the demand, but you did and entertained us in the process!

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    1. Well, I just hate to be defeated.

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  4. I enjoyed your reflection and your A to Z this year. It was my first, but I'm already planning next year! I'll be checking out some of your previous year ones!

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    1. I really enjoyed your theme and wish I had such vivid food memories.

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  5. I loved reading about your life in Cradock - it was fun reminiscing with you. You inspired me to get at that book my kids bought me, where you fill in your life - like a baby book for adults!! Hahaha
    Thanks and you are welcome - hope we can tough it out together again next year!

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    1. Oh gosh, I just remembered - I have one of those books too!

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  6. I enjoyed reading your blog and reminiscing about my own memories that were sparked by reading yours. I also appreciated your comments on my blog during the challenge. You always said something thoughtful and specific to the post.

    I had pretty much the same experience looking for random blogs and think it's much more fun to read and comment when I find blogs that touch me in some way. Even if they don't give us a category next year, I hope we will continue to post links to other genealogy blogs ourselves.

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    1. I saved the list, so if nothing else, we can go looking for those folks again next year. Did you complete the A-Z survey? I did. One question was to make suggestions for next year and so I chimed in on the idea for our own category.

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  7. That would be neat if the organizers did include genealogy as a group for next year's challenge. I did run across several genealogy blogs as I was going through the list.

    Good for you for 5 years accomplishment! I dropped out one year right before the challenge due to family problems, otherwise this would have been my 5th one too!

    betty

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    1. Sometimes a break is just what you need to come back energized.

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  8. Wendy, I think you are too hard on yourself at being disappointed at your efforts in this year's challenge. I enjoyed reading your posts and you were inventive with many of the letters. It was amazing how those of us writing on the theme of childhood memories came up,with different topics for each letter. There were at least two instances this year where I took inspiration for my posts from your contribution. I look forward to seeing you take part in 2017!

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