This is my second #AtoZChallenge. I found the experience even better the second time around for the following reasons:
- My attempt at fiction: While my first #AtoZChallenge was a spontaneous last minute decision, the second attempt certainly was not. While I had jitters during my first attempt, I was relaxed and cool the second time around. It came from a place of ´been there, done that´ confidence. I enjoyed the experience better this time because of my Zen state of mind. But, mainly the fact that I was writing fiction like never before. Barring a few posts, all of them are freshly pressed stories especially for the #AtoZChallenge 2018 and for Blogchatter´s Ebook Carnival. I thought of the Án ode to womanhood´ theme last year with the spotlight on the modern day Indian woman. Literary fiction is one place where real women come alive unlike their stereotypical counterparts on the celluloid. Unfortunately as history reveals, women have been given the raw deal even in literature. Now, why an anthology of short stories? Because it gives me the scope to explore with as many women characters as possible as opposed to just one woman and her story alone. My women protagonists have shades of grey ranging from mild to intense dark. Likewise, my male characters are not all black or white. Since, I was dealing with an anthology of short stories, I targeted an average of 1200-1500 words per story. This was a deliberate attempt even though I knew that for the #AtoZChallenge posts, the ideal word limit is 500-600. But, I wanted my readers to savour my stories at leisure at their comfortable pace. Another advantage of reading my book will be that they can pick and begin from any chapter in the book because each chapter is complete story by itself. My bigger purpose is for my readers is to find simple joys in reading, reflection and hopefully we all change for the better.
- Sense of community: I love being part of the Blogchatter #AtoZChallenge community. Not only did it bring known fellow writers under one roof but welcomed some kick-ass new writers into the fold as well. I could really sniff the vast potential of this community this time around. I was also very impressed by the new joiners to the #AtoZChallenge and how well-prepared and talented they were. Plus, the diversity of genres in this community is mind boggling. I have no doubts that this year´s Blogchatter E-Book carnival is going to be real party for bibliophiles. Barring for one member´s challenge posts which I have read completely, I have skimmed through most of the participant´s posts and got a feel of their writings. I plan to read at leisure every one´s posts in May-June. Together, we learn, share and grow!
- Blogchatter mentor: This was a big surprise considering that I had only one year experience as an #AtoZChallenge survivor. It was such an honour to be listed as a Blogchatter mentor for this wonderful community. I have always believed in giving back what you get. And, I got so much from Blogchatter´s hosted #AtoZChallenge and Ebook carnival last year that I was too happy to be a torch bearer for talented new writers.
- Genuine feedback from the experts and laymen: I was completely taken by surprise when author Ravish Mani handpicked one of my stories ´Naked Illusions´ and gave a detailed and personalised author feedback. This meant the world to me because this is what writers seek. An honest and objective evaluation of their work. And coming from Ravish Mani who is known for his astute insight into any story and its characters, it was truly an honour. Thank you so much for this kind gesture, Ravish Mani. I couldn´t be more grateful to you. Also, brutally honest feedback from community members and non-writers who told me what they liked or didn´t. Loved that because it gives me the scope to introspect, reflect and improvise my craft.
There´s a lot of work ahead of me when it comes to the 26 short stories (6 of them were written earlier) that I have churned out in this year´s #AtoZChallenge posts. The stories range from a word limit of 750 – 3500 words. No mean feat. That´s 40,000 plus words alone. Now the triple tasks of revision, editing and proofreading awaits. It´s going to be quite a ride.
And Hoorah! Baby, we rocked the #AtoZChallenge 2018
(PS: I have intentionally not taken any individual participant names. As a Blogchatter mentor, it´s a conscious decision to be encouraging and appreciative of each and every participant´s efforts in the #AtoZChallenge.)