Monday, April 30, 2012

26 Letters Later (A Meta-Blogging Post)

According to the official instructions, I'm supposed to post about my experiences with the A-Z Challenge on May 7th. But honestly? I don't want to wait that long. I'm ready to move on from the challenge and go back to my ordinary blog format.

Thank you to the organizers and co-hosts of the A-Z Challenge! You've created a very busy and engaged blogging community, and you should be proud of that.

Did I follow the rules?
  • Post daily except for Sundays? Check!
  • Visit at least five blogs each day? Check!
  • Write a recap at the end of the challenge? Check!
  • Feel overwhelmed and then berate myself for it? Double check!

What were the benefits?
  • 64 new followers on Google Friend Connect (from 118 to 182). It was really exciting to watch that number increase!
  • Discovered lots of great new blogs.
  • High visitor-to-commenter ratio, with a lot of interesting, funny comments on my posts.
  • Opportunity to reexamine my goals and style as a blogger. 

Did the challenge affect the way that I blogged?

I quickly realized that I would be unable to continue with my regular blogging style during the challenge. This blog has only been around for six months, but I knew right from the start that I wasn't a "blog every single day" kind of blogger. I prefer to focus on quality rather than on quantity. The first few days were overwhelming, and by the time I got to the letter F I realized that I'd need to be easier on myself if I wanted to complete the challenge.


I usually respond to every single comment. I just couldn't keep up during the challenge and I was starting to dread even opening up my blog. So I stopped responding to the majority of comments.

I usually visit - and comment on - every one of my readers' blogs. While this is still important to me, I simply couldn't do it during the challenge. I tried during the first few days, and found myself spending 2-3 hours every evening trudging through blogs without even taking the time to enjoy them. So I scaled back. A lot. I still have a list of all of the bloggers who visited me during the challenge, and I will be returning the favour over the next few weeks. I really hope that no one gets lost in the shuffle.

I couldn't keep up with my own blog reader during the challenge. There's a core group of blogs that I read daily, without fail.  But during the month of April, I found myself clicking "mark all as read" more than once, and then I would try to binge-read my favourites on weekend mornings.

Post quality:

I generally take a lot of pride in my posts. Every time I hit publish, I'm excited because I feel that I'm putting up the best clay story that I've written up to that point. I can't say that this was true in April. There were lots of posts without stories. There was no way that I could maintain my regular blog style - longer stories, lots of new clay figures, backgrounds and setting, narrative structure - and post every single day.

There were a few posts this month that I could have tweaked a bit and been happy to post at any time - Alien Abduction, Dentists, Easter Candy, Marathons, Negative Pregnancy Tests, Quiet Talkers - but overall, most of my posts this month would have been better suited for the Clay Baboons Facebook page, rather than the blog.


I put a lot of importance as a blogger on sharing other people's work. While I still tweeted other people's blog posts from time to time this month, I didn't do it as often as I normally would. I also rarely updated my illustrated blog board on Pinterest. I didn't link to anyone else's work at all on my blog in April.

Am I glad that I did it?

Yes, absolutely. While the experience was very time-consuming and even overwhelming at times, I'm glad that I signed up and I'm glad that I stuck it out.   I felt a sense of accomplishment when I hit publish on the 26th post.  The challenge was also great exposure for my blog.  I really enjoyed making some new blog friends; you guys are seriously funny.

Would I do it again?



What's next?

As of today, Clay Baboons will be going back to its regular format:
  • Weekly story posts.  Always.  Usually.  Every single week.  Most weeks. Maybe sometimes even two stories in one week, but probably not.
  • Longer posts with more of a narrative structure.
  • A wider variety of clay figurines, along with backgrounds.
  • Weekly-ish sharing posts, where I link to some of my favourite things that I didn't write (but wish that I did).
  • Sporadic micro-stories (one picture one sentence - like most of my posts in April) generally posted on the Facebook page instead of here. 
  • More interaction with readers (responding to comments, reading blogs, interacting on Twitter and Facebook).
  • Higher quality photos.  I hope.  I may have shed a metaphorical tear on April 19th when Picnik closed.  I've been editing my photos since then on PicMonkey, but I haven't yet figured out how to get the colours right.

Thank you to my regular readers who stuck it out with me over the past month!

Welcome to all of my new readers!

I'm glad that you came by, and I hope that you'll come back again.  If you're new to the blog, you might want to check out some of my older stories to get a better idea of how I normally write:

Woman vs Treadmill

Zombies Gave me Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

For Self-Loathing, Press Three

Stand Up and Be Counted

A Letter From the Teacher
(originally posted on the fantabulous We Band of Mothers)

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Z is for Zombies

And for the final episode of the Clay Baboons Alphablog (26 Things That Annoy Me, Confuse Me, Creep Me Out or Otherwise Make my Life More Difficult), I bring you the zombie.

Oh, who am I kidding.

I love zombies.


* That last bit is actually a lie. I like to pretend that I'd be a kick-butt zombie hunter should the opportunity arise, but the truth is that I'd probably die in the first wave, cowering and blubbering in the corner.

* * * *

And with this post, the A-Z challenge is officially DONE!

Anyone care to join me in my happy dance?

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Y is for Yo-yos

Why is it that every yo-yo I try is defective?

Only one more sub-par post to go, and this alphabet challenge is done!

Friday, April 27, 2012

X is for Xbox

I have a love-hate relationship with the Xbox.

I love watching Dexter on Netflix or playing LEGO Indiana Jones.

I hate pretty much every other game.

When I try to play any first-person shooter game, I get motion sickness and my blood pressure rises to unhealthy levels. I can never find the X button or the Y button and just end up pushing buttons wildly while shouting out "How can I make him go to the other side?" over and over again. The more sore my thumbs get, the more stressed out I feel about playing.

JP used to try to convince me to play Xbox with him all the time. I would usually whine a bit before giving in. Then I'd either blow myself up or accidentally kill him. Most of the time, the evening would end like this:

I'm not sure why he doesn't ask me to play anymore.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

U is for Urban Wildlife

Raccoons - especially urban raccoons - are not cute.

Raccoons are aggressive little monsters who will break into your house and eat your toothpaste if you leave a window open.

One morning, there was a single muddy raccoon pawprint on the glass of my parents' backdoor. It was like the cover of a B Horror movie:

Raccoons!! They come out at night!!

In the movie, I'm pretty sure that they'd use mechanical raccoon puppets to terrorize an innocent family who just moved into a new house. Probably in the first scene, a little girl would squeal and point at a cute raccoon with shiny eyes, and ask if she could keep it as a pet. Her mom would laugh and shoo it away. But it would come back. I'm pretty sure that the little girl would survive until the end of the movie, so don't worry too much. The family dog, unfortunately, wouldn't stand a chance. I think I'd probably cry when he died.

I'm also not a huge fan of urban squirrels, skunks or gophers.

Monday, April 23, 2012

T is for Tarantulas (and Other Large Spiders)

For the most part, I'm not scared of spiders. In fact, I would go so far as to say that I like them. I like watching them build their webs, and I think that there's something inherently cool in being able to walk upside down.

I have standards when it comes to spiders, though: I like them small and friendly-looking and not too fuzzy.

Giant, hairy, man-eating spiders, I can do without.

I realize that this doesn't look like a tarantula. It is, however, a spider. And it was remarkably hard to get those flimsy legs just right, so I won't be making any more arachnids.

I once got into an epic battle of wills with a tarantula in Brazil. It was a huge, furry mother of a spider and it had all eight of its hairy legs spread over a giant egg sack. I wanted to take a picture of it with my hand in the photo for reference. I kept reaching out my hand, and it kept lunging at me when I got too close.

In the end, the spider won. I didn't get my picture.

That night, I dreamed that I was bound tightly in spider silk, hanging upside down from a tree. The mother tarantula and all of its babies were climbing the trunk towards me, clicking and humming. It was one of those dreams where you realize that you're dreaming, but no matter how hard you try, you can't force yourself to move or to wake up. (Note: being awake and not being able to move is frequently a sign of alien abduction. Not that I'm saying that's what happened, or anything. But it's something to think about.)

And ever since that day, I would really prefer that large, hairy spiders stay far, far away from me.

Cute little friendly spiders, however, are more than welcome to stop by and say hello.

Friday, April 20, 2012

R is for Rattlesnakes

Rattlesnakes are creepy, scary, dangerous, terrifying.

OK, so I've never actually seen one, but rattlesnakes are also really easy to make out of clay, especially if you don't bother with the rattle.

And I'm tired.


(I thank you in advance for not telling me he looks - literally - like a pile of crap.)

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Q is for Quiet Talkers

JP is a quiet talker when we're out in public.

Arguments with JP can be really unsatisfying.

Flounce over to the next aisle to stew for five minutes.

Decide that it isn't worth getting upset about.

Flounce back over to the next aisle to stew for five more minutes.

Decide upon my return to pretend that it never even happened.

I should just stay in the next aisle.

. . . .

Editing to link up with Yeah Write 54 - one of the web's best writing communities!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

P is for Pyjamas

When I wasn't working, I bemoaned the fact that this chart pretty much illustrated my dressing process in the morning:

Source: my life. And my ninja MS Paint skills.
Disclaimer: this is a shamelessly recycled flow chart that I made months ago. Sorry.

And now that I am working every day, I think wistfully of the days when I wore draw-string pants with pictures of sleeping dogs on them until 2:00 in the afternoon, and hid in the kitchen if anyone knocked on the door.

I wish that it were acceptable for adult professionals in non-medical fields to wear scrubs to work.

Made out of flannel.

And also fuzzy socks and no shoes.

If I start a petition, will anyone sign?

. . . .

A Clay Baboons Alphablog: 26 Things That Annoy Me, Confuse Me, Creep Me Out, or Otherwise Make My Life More Difficult.