Monday, May 7, 2018

Reflecting,,,A to Z

Today is Reflection Day.

As part of the A to Z challenge, we are to post reflections of our experience.

Writing is a bizarre process.
Some things just demand to be written.
Others refuse to let loose of the space they are hiding in and must be pried loose like a dried out wine cork.
I first learned of the A to Z challenge two years ago after reading another writer's post. The idea sounded fun so I followed along unofficially. Last year I started the challenge but didn't make it to the end.
Too many of those metaphorically stuck wine corks.

In March, it occurred to me that the challenge would be starting soon and perhaps joining in would be just the thing to get me back in the habit of writing consistently. Writing had dwindled for me over the previous year to the point where I wondered if I really wanted to continue.
But, the thought of giving up Coast of Illinois made me unreasonably sad.

And, since April is such a transitional month – one day winter, the next, summer, then back to a drizzly autumnal feel, joining the A to Z Challenge seemed the thing to do. 

I chose to use sailing as my topic. It was a little bit of a challenge, finding posts for some of those 'unusual' letters but ultimately having that topic really helped me to organize my thoughts and on days when I didn't feel like writing I had a kick start place from which to begin. As usual, I didn't prep ahead. Well, that's not true. I had three whole posts written and ready before April 1. Once April 3 rolled around I was pretty much barely keeping up. 
Rob really helped keep me focused and me, being me, was motivated to not disappoint that mystery reader who is hanging on my every word. 

As best I can tell, the folks who run this show do it out of the kindness of their hearts. There is no fee to join. There are no monetary rewards for finishing. There is an awesome T-shirt for sale, which I will model once mine arrives. All that is asked is that if you post then in return you should read some of your fellow participants works.

This brings me to one of my favorite aspects of the writing community.
It is just that.
A community.

The A to Z folks posted an encouraging blog daily through the month. Fellow writers stopped by and left encouraging comments. The closer the end was, the more enthusiastic the 'you've got this' chant became.
And in the end, I did finish the challenge and came away with a feeling of accomplishment that I haven't felt in a very long time.

So to that end, I would like to send out a very heartfelt THANK YOU to all the folks over at the Blogging A to Z Challenge! You brought me back to feeling a part of a wonderful community of writers. Dorothy Parker had her round table. Hemingway had his ex-pats. We have this wide world of internets. I have been a part of other on-line writing groups and while they have dissolved over time, I have been left with some wonderful writing friends. I hope to maintain some of these relationships kindled here. 

Which brings me to my next appreciation speech.
Don't start that orchestra music just yet...

I would also like to say Congratulations, Great Job and THANK YOU to the following writers. They consistently visited Coast of Illinois and left wonderful comments and I, in turn, tried to always make a stop at their sites.
D.B. McNichol - DB approached the challenge with a word-picture association which produced a series of wonderful flash fiction stories. She also maintains a blog about her Doods-two rather large poodley looking dogs...
Iain Kelly - Iain wrote an alphabetically fueled fictional series inspired by England's decision to leave the EU. They were insightful, informative and entertaining. I look forward to seeing where Iain's writing takes us next.
Leanne - I have followed Leanne's work for a while now through Women of Midlife, where I found her Cresting the Hill blog. She filled the challenge with an A to Zen of life coaching questions that were sometimes fun, sometimes difficult but always informative.
Alana - Another of my Midlife writers, she did a fun, informative series on Florida outside the theme parks. Her quirky, rambling blog is such fun and it is well reflected in her A to Z challenges.
Please, take a moment to stop by these folks pages.
Each one has a different approach and goal to their writing which reveals a wonderful talent. There were many others who either stopped by here or I visited, but these four made a strong impression on my. As have the other writers listed on the sidebar. 

And while I am thanking folks...
THANK YOU to all who have been reading Coast of Illinois, whether you were here at the beginning of Start Seeing Hairnets or just happened over for the sailing posts, your stops and clicks and comments mean the world to me.
Me. Reflecting...
Come on back later this week for 'Bottom Job' - it's not just a stripper move...

And if you are a nurse, know someone who is, please take the time to check out my It's a Living tab. This is National Nurse's Week and I have several posts there which reflect my 34 year experience on the business end of a bedpan. 


  1. The A-Z is a huge challenge! I enjoy the creativity those who undertake it show!

  2. Hi Laura! We did it! We made it to the end, we reflected, we shared the love for each other (you're on mine under "sailing") and it was so good to have done it all. I'm actually already pondering 2019 and what I might write about (I think I need my head examined!) I must say that it's lovely only posting a couple of times a week again. Don't forget to pop over to our #MLSTL party on Wednesdays if you have a personal post to link up xx

    Leanne |
    AtoZ Reflections and Farewell

    1. Yay us! I was hoping I was the ‘sailing’ mention!! Lol! Enjoy your more relaxed schedule!

  3. Finding inspiration in a group is the best feeling. So glad you found not just writing inspiration but a community.

  4. Great wrap-up! Thank you so much for the shout out. Glad we connected and Iook forward to following you blog throughout the year. It's been a blast!!

  5. Congrats on finishing and on a wonderful Reflections post. (By the way, the fact that you included a shoutout for my blog has nothing to do with my opinion of your wonderful post. THANK YOU.) I have to admit to some exhaustion and I didn't give credit to the blogs I enjoyed - but great minds - we each discovered a couple of the same blogs. I hope to find time to give a shoutout to them, too. From the Coast of Upstate New York to your coast I remain....Alana

    1. Oh I agree! I am so glad the 30th was a Monday. It was nice to have the weekend to pre-collapse!!

  6. Not only done, Laura, but very well done! I enjoyed ever post!
    So glad I stumbled onto your blog through Leanne!

  7. The "three posts ready by April 1st but scrambling after April 3rd" would be my experience if I were to every take on this challenge. I'm in awe of you who carried through and had so much fun with it! I will happily check out the blogs you mentioned! Very well done!

  8. I loved this meandering reminded me of the way I approach what I write. A stream of consciousness with a little organization.

    Well done.


  9. I just found your blog via the A to Z Reflections list. I'll have to go back and read some of your posts. Being an Illinoisian must have been a challenge to do sailing. I was born and raised outside Chicago. Out beach was the local rock quarry. It was rumored there were a few bodies at the bottom. Good fodder for a story one day. :-)

    Congratulations on making it through!!!

    Here is my Reflections if you're interested....

    1. So glad you found your way here! Sailing is certainly an adventure here, but I wouldn’t trade it for anything! Except a beach house and a 55ft Beneteau!


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