Reflecting on My ‘Survivor’ Designation – #atozchallenge

survivor_[2013]I can’t help but think that earning this #atozchallenge ‘survivor’ designation sounds like I made it to the other side of an ordeal. Nothing could be further from the truth. I consider the experience a break through in my writing life,….a pearl of great price. I began to blog after publishing an e-book with no prior experience in how to navigate, a steep learning curve ahead. I’d been writing posts about English gardens and famous English gardeners; my passions dictating the subjects. These posts were infrequent and too long.

A friend alerted me to the #challenge through her Facebook page, posting the #challenge logo. I took the organizers advice about preselecting a theme. I used the names of my Pinterest Boards where possible. I was forced to plan and focus; a good discipline to be going on with.  Writing these A-Z posts taught me to write less words and still say something worthwhile. I realize now that asking a reader to plow through a long post isn’t realistic. It was the shorter posts that called to me on sites I visited.  The people who share my enthusiasms are busy people who are also gardening, reading and sitting at their desks writing. With an eye on the word count, I began to post brief posts with lots of editing, allowing each post to rest in my queue before scheduling publication. I would rereading them with the benefit of a cold eye.  I hoped my readers would feel respected sensing that I had cared enough to care.

Imagine my chagrin when someone pointed out near the end of the #challenge that there was no ‘follow me’ button on my page.  Hoping to attract more followers, only those who could click the follow button on their own page were able to join me.

The difficulty in leaving comments on many of the blogs is my one complaint. Some of the shenanigans called for made it more trouble than it was worth. I was sorry to have visited the site only to slip away, unnoticed, never to return. I think more should be made of the fact that if you participate, it behooves people to make it as easy as possible to comment. ( sent comments to my spam, which I could allow or trash.) I would add that the tittle a participate lists when signing up is more important than I realized. I used the tittle of my novel, lovely as it may be, which had little to do with what? I on the other hand explored only those tittles that said something to me about what I might expect to find. I look forward to exploring more of the blogs that participated in the #challenge. The #atozchallenge organizers have my appreciation, because the #challenge allowed me to write myself into a more authentic voice named Stepheny.

About Stepheny Forgue Houghtlin

Stepheny Forgue Houghtlin grew up in Evanston, IL. and is a graduate of the University of Kentucky. She is an author of two novels: The Greening of a Heart and Facing East. She lives, writes and gardens in NC. Visit her:
This entry was posted in A to Z Blog Challenge - April 2013 and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to Reflecting on My ‘Survivor’ Designation – #atozchallenge

  1. Hi Stepheny, a persistent problem with leaving comments on non-wordpress blogs is my one complaint too; I found some brilliant posts and tried repeatedly to comment on them but the system would not accept either my wordpress details or my email address. Please read the new Awards and Badges page on my blog as I have nominated you.

    • I was so appreciative of your nominating my blog! Putting the house on the market April 2, and all that goes on, took up most of my energy and attention, which is why you haven’t heard from me. I found the #challenge a great learning experience, but didn’t visit as many of the blogs as I’d hoped. Now that we are on the other side of this move, I have returned to my blog and making connections once again. I hope you will have time to come back and read what I am up to now. Thank you for including me on your Awards and Badges page. I hope to continue writing an interesting blog now that I am back!

  2. orneryswife says:

    I love how you stated that the survivor badge made it sound like you had made it through an ordeal… I agree. It made my writing more fluent and concise, and my thoughts align with yours on the shorter posts–they were easy to read.

    Congrats on finishing with a flourish!

    • Putting our house and garden on the market April 2 kept me from answering your comment. I appreciate your taking the time to leave me a note. Now that we are three weeks in our new “Cottage for Two.” I will look forward to visiting your blog too. I have just returned to posting and it felt so good to return to the writing and creating a new theme. Hope you will have time to visit again now that I am back from the land of moving boxes.

  3. Tina Downey says:

    Your observations are exactly what I experienced as well. Commenting was nearly impossible to do at many places, following very hard on non-blogger blogs, and those that STILL had CAPTCHA ON? Unbelievable, after all we said about it. However, it sounds like your experience over all was a very positive one, and I’m glad!
    Tina @ Life is Good
    Co-host, April 2013 A-Z Challenge Blog
    @TinaLifeisGood, #atozchallenge

    • Replying several months after your comments. An impending move had most of my attention.Now we have arrived and getting settled. The #atozchallenge was one of the most instructive and satisfying things I have done since beginning my blog. Posting everyday became a great discipline and addictive. I missed the structure of the challenge when it was over. Just in the last few days I have returned to writing and getting some post in the queue. I’m very grateful to have participated and to maintain a relationship with the other bloggers. Come back and see me when you have time.

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