Welcome to the end of one of my most grueling A to Z challenges ever! When I first decided to participate with multiple blogs, Dreams in the Shade of Ink was the odd one out. I had some rough ideas on what I could do for themes on the other three and it felt wrong completely cutting out my fiction blog. If I was going to do more than two, I may as well suck it up and do all four.

The problem was I hadn't written any fiction in over a year (maybe two), aside from some random bits during the annual NaNoWriMo challenge. But I wanted (want) to write so badly, I said to hell with it and jumped in with both feet. And it wasn't so bad. At first.

My theme for Dreams in the Shade of Ink was Flash Fiction. These pieces tend to range from 250-1500 words. I really wanted to stay in the 200-500 range. What happened in the beginning was a mixture of both flash fiction and poetry. I was also keeping up and posting on time (read: just before midnight).

However, around letter "I" or "J" some "bigger picture" mumbo jumbo started to formulate in the back of my mind. A connecting of pieces, between future entries and ones I had already published, even if they seemingly had nothing to do with one another. I fought against the urge (it's a common one with me, connecting pieces of work that I'd rather remain standalone), but eventually the desire (or obsession) was too strong.

When I gave in is when I found myself falling behind, because no longer was I just writing random pieces as planned, but attempting to cohesively bind various works together. This meant I had to actually think and not rush my entries, which also meant I had to unfortunately use my "Coming Soon" placeholders more often than not.

When all was said and done, I'm happier that I took the time (still am technically) to flesh out the stories a little more than I would have normally. I still sacrificed a handful of pieces and inclusions to some of the story that I really wanted to tell for time's sake. The letter system of the A to Z Challenge also made it more difficult. I had to make last minute decisions on which letters would be used for which pieces, sometimes losing entire works in the process of the shuffle.

There would be some changes I would make, if I were to revisit and edit more closely the series in its entirety, but as I said, overall I'm happy with the outcome. I plan to write a post about this particular A to Z Challenge theme on my I, Jak blog. I'd like to let it sit for some time, though, before I get into the nitty-gritty meat of it. I'd rather not explain it all before people had a chance to experience it as it is now.

While I have a chunk of my "Z" entry up, titled Zenith, there is meant to be a total of three sections. I've so far only completed the first and plan to finish the other two as soon as I can. I definitely didn't want to rush the final piece (although it was the piece I already had planned for weeks), but I admittedly allowed the reprieve from the challenge to overwhelm me some. If interested, please check back on that final entry to catch the rest of the story. I'll try to post/share when I complete the other sections.

Regardless of the stress the challenge caused for me on Dreams in the Shade of Ink, I'm incredibly Thankful that I included it. Just writing whatever came to mind was cathartic. Then finding that I was somehow pulled into working towards a larger end game was a thrilling experience that was very reminiscent of my work during my very first NaNoWriMo in 2012.

The entire ordeal was definitely a success and a slap in the face to my ever overbearing writer's block! Maybe I can go on to tackle some of the WiP that have fallen to the wayside over the years...

"Don't get cocky, kid!"

Got it... slow and steady wins the race...

Would I participate in the A to Z Challenge on Dreams in the Shade of Ink again? That's a tough one. I may need a better game plan next time so that I don't become too overwhelmed. There were literally moments where I wanted to just quit this blog's run. I get fairly emotional about my fiction and writing in general. I think if I could nail down specifics, whether a particular story to tell or a tighter theme than merely "flash fiction", I'd be willing to give it another go. Or who knows, by this time next year, maybe I'll already be a more prolific writer and it will be a breeze!

"Don't get..."

Yeah, yeah, yeah. I get it.

Did you participate in the A to Z Challenge 2016? If so, what did you think about it? What did you enjoy the most? Dislike the most? Will you participate again? Do you write Flash Fiction/Fiction? What writing format do you prefer to write in? Have you ever suffered from writer's block? What helps you overcome it? Did you follow along with the Dreams in the Shade of Ink's A to Z theme? Did you have any favorite entries? What did you think about the series overall? Was there anything you thought would make it better?