Coffee and Conversation: Looking Back on the Alphabet

Grab a cuppa and a comfy seat, and let’s chat a while.

It’s Monday again – time for Coffee and Conversation.

When I was six, my familywas driving on a highway late at night. Streaks of headlights and taillights painted the dark. For the first time, I realized that each car held people living lives as important to them as mine was to me.

I wanted to know what those lives were, and to share my own…

It’s the last Monday of May, and, as I move through the final week of my Story A Day challenge, it seems like a good time to do a little online hometending. One of the things I’ve been meaning to do is to write a reflection post for this year’s Blogging from A-Z April Challenge, now that I’ve had a little time and space from the intensity of the challenge itself. Read my pre-challenge Big Theme Reveal post.

  • I chose to do this challenge because it was a perfect vehicle for a writing project that had been swirling around my mind for a year, and was ready to be born. This challenge, whose only requirement is to write 26 alphabetical posts, allowed both a framework, and the freedom to explore in whichever ways my creative impulse carried me.

  • I chose to do it because there’s something satisfying in participating in a challenge with a group of others, pursuing the same goal, each in their own unique way. This meant others sharing in the journey. New blogs to discover, new friends to make. New ideas to ponder, and be expanded by…

  • And the excitement of writing and stretching myself to complete and ship my post, 26 out of 30 days.

So, did I get what I wanted out of this challenge?

Let’s take a look.

  • That nascent idea became Kifo Island Chronicles – 26 stories of characters residing, for various reasons, on a no-cost private hospice island. Some are dying; some are mourning; some are desperate for a chance to live.

  • By the end of the month, I knew that I want to use this source material to create a series of novellas. Each will contain between 2-5 interwoven story arcs. There will be some recurring characters, and themes and arcs may encompass more than one novella, although each will stand alone.

  • For each character, I have a brief character sketch, and a rough outline of their story arc. I can see many intersection points, and ways in which diverse characters will intertwine in various ways.

  • I have 17,915 words of story; and plans for much more. For each of my characters, I have one crystallized story that captures them and their conflicts.

Yes, it’s a long way from a completed series – or even one completed arc. But every project must begin somewhere – and I began with play, and now have a solid beginning.

And how about that group participation?

I discovered some wonderful blogs and bloggers during the challenge. This seems like a perfect time to introduce a few of my very favorites:

Badge of Honor!

Obviously, there’s lots of ideas and creative fodder here! =)

I’ve also picked up a few new blog followers, myself!

But, more importantly than the stories, or the camaraderie, or even the challenge, is the fun, the feeding my own creative life, the pouring forth of my daydreams…

Will I be back next year, for another take on this challenge?


Enough about me – how about you? Have you undertaken a purposeful challenge, lately? What were your goals and hopes, going in? What inspired you? Did you get out of it what you wanted? Expected? Were there unexpected benefits?

I’ll brew up another pot with the new coffeemaker, and set out some tasty treats (we have muffins!). Why not tell us all about it? =)


    • Kassandra,

      Oh, I hope you do! I will definitely stop by to visit! It’s really a fun way for me to noodle with things that are just beginning to take shape. The stakes are just to finish the challenge, and that gives me just the right amount of nudging. And the short turnaround means that my creativity gets more playtime than my inner censors. Things I write in these challenges tend to be more intuitive, uninhibited, and filled with imagery and connections I’m not sure they would have, otherwise.

      If you play, I hope you get even more than you anticipate from the experience! =D

  1. Awww, thanks for the shout out! So glad I happened to stop by today to see it. 🙂

    It’s awesome that you were able to write posts that will launch a new project. Best of luck with it!!

    • Jocelyn,

      It’s my pleasure to give you a little publicity. I loved your A-Z posts, and might even get back to explore them all, after May’s creative extravaganza is over. =)

      I try to pick challenges to play with that will feed into a larger project. Fun now, preparation for later.

      I’l be posting more about it as time passes and I move into the next phase of the project…

  2. Phew! You are so hard to keep up with, SJ! My current personal challenges are mostly in the musical category, and they are competing with each other a bit chaotically. I’m going to work today to write down my specific musical goals so I can devote a section of practice time for each of them. A year ago, though, I committed to blogging every 3 days, and I have held to that schedule rigorously. Sometimes I get several responses, sometimes only one, but I’m finding the discipline itself worthwhile. Sound familiar? Speaking of which…Wing’s World is calling! Have a great day…

    • Gretchen,

      I’ve definitely benefited from a regular blogging schedule, too. And by getting the hang of how my mind works, and how my life works. I’ve been getting more comments, of late, but, even when I don’t, you’re right. The process has its own rewards.

      I hope that writing out your musical goals helps you to achieve them. =)

      Heading over to check on what’s going on in Wing’s World, right now!

  3. Oh how wonderful that A to Z is going to be a launching point for a series of Novellas! that makes your A to Z effort a real success indeed! Glad to hear you enjoyed the month too 🙂

    • Celine,

      It is pretty wonderful, at that. I knew I wanted to explore these stories, but not what to ultimately do with them. The stories seemed to lend themselves to the idea of novellas. I’m giving them some percolation time, now, while I work on other things, but I’m also looking forward to getting back to them, in the not far-off future.

      I love this challenge (third time I’ve completed it), and it’s even better when I can use it to help me attain a personal goal.

        • Celine,

          Years and years and years ago now, a former coworker introduced me to the concept of “work smart, not hard”. She was dedicated to her work, but not enslaved to it.

          I find writing, while often strenuous and challenging,to be a delight more than work…but I still think it’s a matter of “Delight smart, not hard”. There are, after all, only 24 hours in a day, and there is All The Rest of Life out there, too…

          So I’ve gotten to a place where I tend to seek out challenges that not only inspire me, but also give me a playground for some delight I was already contemplating indulging in.

          The Kifo Island stories are so much richer and more textured than I imagined, at the beginning of the month, and they opened me up for the writing that has followed (and that yet to come, too). That’s a pretty big gift, right there! =D

          • Do you know I’ve only recently come across the phrase “work smart, not hard” and it is a saying I plan on living by. I read somewhere that it’s the difference between the fly banging its head against the window pane repeatedly or looking around and finding the door to get out.

            Glad you’ve found something that really inspires you, as you say, a pretty amazing gift!

          • Celine,

            I’m very lucky to have been introduced to that concept in my late teens. My understanding of it continues to evolve as I mature, and it remains a philosophy I strive to live by.

            At this point in my life, it means not working at cross purposes to my life and my own nature, and that I focus on those things that bring fulfillment. I’ve got one finite life; why waste it?

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