Friday, May 13, 2016

A to Z Challenge 2016, Reflections

A to Z Challenge 2016
I dragged my feet as is often the case with a new project. First there was some enthusiasm, a warming to the idea, a quickening that said, "why not give it a try?" But then the doubts crept in.

"I don't have anything to say." "What if I start and can't finish?" "Wow, what a commitment. When was the last time I produced that much writing in a month?"

"Tell me again, why am I doing this?"

Yet the day came when the pull to do grew stronger than the push to not. And so I signed up.

I'm talking about the A to Z Challenge 2016, 26 posts in April corresponding with the 26 letters of the alphabet. My subject of choice: haiku, posted from the viewpoint of a new student. My overall impression after the fact? It was a really good experience, well worth the time and effort.

The A to Z Team who sponsored the challenge has encouraged those of us who completed the challenge to write a reflections post about the experience. Many participants have already done so (see list of links here). So, a few of my thoughts:

Why did I sign up? challenge myself, first of all, to write. No excuses. see if I could actually make a deadline. No pressure there, ha! apply myself to learning more about my subject, and to share what I was learning. interact with others and learn from them on their subjects along the way.

What did I discover?
...time management is key. (Duh!)
...obstacles will present themselves--but so will surprises and unexpected words.
...there's a huge supportive community out there--both new friends and long-time close friends.
...more people signed up for this challenge than I could ever meet.

Jane Reichhold in her article Haiku Rules That Have Come and Gone, Take Your Pick shares a list of 65 "rules" for haiku, many of which are contradictory. While the article was in itself educational on the subject of haiku, it also presented what I think is a good take-away for the A-Z Challenge. "You've heard Robert Frost's saying that poetry without rules is like a tennis match without a net and it is true also for haiku..." Ms. Reichhold writes. "As soon as you get proficient (you will notice your haiku all sound alike), it's time to raise the tennis net by picking a new rule or so..."

Well, it might be said that the A to Z Challenge 2016 was my tennis net. It raised the writing bar a little higher--and certainly made me work a little harder. Yet rewards abounded, including learning, stretching, celebrating small accomplishments, and 'shaking hands' with others along the way. And so, to round out the challenge, a final haiku reflection:

when words begin to 
sound the same take up challenge...
raise the net higher :-)
--Kenda Turner


  1. I'm surprised that most of you haiku was recently written. It is very good. I read a great deal of poetry on blogs. Your haiku stood out as excellent. It was quite refreshing.

    I know I am laying it on thick. But we all need the unvarnished truth when it is good. I'm glad I met you during the challenge. I plan to go back this summer and check more blogs if possible.

  2. Ann, thanks so much for your kind words. Much appreciated :-) I was learning as I went, that's for sure. I had played around with writing haiku for a couple of years but at the beginning of the challenge only still understood it from the framework of 5-7-5 syllables in three lines. Now I see it as so much more, in so few words. Amazing what a challenge can do for you!

    Thank you for your support--I'm glad I met you during the challenge, too. Wishing you all the best in your writing in the days ahead. We'll "see" each other again, I hope :-)

  3. I think you should examine those haiku, write more, and compile a chapbook.

    1. Elizabeth, I've started looking into chapbooks since you mentioned this in another post, and I'm very interested in the idea. Thanks for suggesting it! And I am continuing to write haiku, even after the challenge. Actually, because of the challenge :-) I've discovered that I love the form...

  4. I enjoyed your haiku immensely. I also like the idea of a reflection. I'm sure we writers reflect as much as anyone, but it's not as focused as this. I can see real value in it.

    Even though your challenge is officially over, perhaps you'll give us a haiku gift from time to time?

    1. Peggy, I'm so glad you enjoyed my haiku--and I enjoyed yours, too, when you added them in the comments! And sharing more haiku here? Hmmm, maybe so :-) I do plan to look into 'chapbooks,' though (see Elizabeth's comment above). Stay tuned!

      Wishing you a good week ahead...

  5. I enjoyed your posts for A to Z (well, and always too). One of these days when I get some extra time I'd like to go back and read the ones I missed. Thanks for sharing your reflections. Glad it was a success for you! :)