Nightmare Reflection: 2020 AtoZ Blog Challenge


Reflection #atozchallenge 2020




The AtoZ Blog Challenge 2020

Writing In Captivity

The AtoZ is a challenge. I take that seriously. Since 2011, my first foray into this, I have changed gears from year to year. I like stretching beyond my comfort zones. Some of it has been well taken in both Stats and comments. Others, like this year, not so much.

I am pleased with what I chose to do:  write 26 Lyrical Poems under the theme title. Write every day in April, except Sundays. I have written poetry before, many well received by the readers. But, I write in that style intermittently.

This was truly a challenging April.

If you’ve followed from April 1st  with Awakenings to Zealous O’er the Seas, you’ve experienced my venting, wistfulness, wishing, observations, and anger through my words. Some I rhymed on purpose, some I just let the words loose.

Every single poem was written with a genre of music or musician’s styling playing in my head. I did not intend to appropriate any specific song; it’s the overall mood they convey and are masters of. I’ve written songs before, but I have no knowledge of musical notation and I don’t play a musical instrument. I hear it inside and then turn to someone to collaborate with. From humming it out, setting the beats (as I see them), hearing it played,  gets me going. Seeing how the meter is off from one (or many) line(s) starts my rewrite of the lyrics if needed. Tweaking the piece, scrapping whole verses, you know: first to finished draft.

The music that drifted around me as I wrote the poem daily (I don’t pre-write) is varied:

  1. Big Band/Crooners; Folk music; Rap (as I understand it); Sea Shanties; Rock; Heavy/Thrash Metal; Alt Rock & Alt-Country; Punk; Romantic-ish; Blues; Singer/Songwriter.
  2. Artists:  Tom Waits; Leonard Cohen; The Kinks; Joni Mitchel; Peter Gabriel; Kate Bush; Sousie and the Banshees; Alestorm; Dean Martin; St. Vincent; later Beatles; Beck; The Clash; The Cure; and others that my mind can’t latch onto right now.

Nightmares from an Unbleached Soul

Why Nightmares from an Unbleached Soul? What does that mean, to you? What do you think it means to me? I asked that question near the end of the month and got one response.

Noor Anand Chawla wrote:

I think your title alludes to the fact that you lay yourself and perhaps your worst fears, bare to your audience, through these 26 pieces. “Nightmares” refer to your worst fears, and “unbleached soul” refers to the absence of restraint and being absolutely honest about your feelings.
Perhaps my explanation is too simplistic? What do you think?

Noor pretty much nailed it. I feel that nightmares go beyond our sleep. They are all around us. It could be people, situations, personal fears, perceived fears, and hurt that you feel has been done to you, or that you have done to yourself.

Noor also got the “Unbleached Soul” part. I would add to that when we follow the crowd, stop thinking on our own (or made to stop), refuse to look at things from another angle = Bleached. Soul or Mind: interchangeable.

Overall, I am a non-conformist. I despise the statement “We’ve always done it this way!” For me, there is no box for me to think out of. It’s been imposed on me time and again. Not my thing. I’m creative. I don’t always follow mindless rules, inflexible, with no desire to even listen to a different POV. Sometimes I’ve done that: those are the times I get headaches constantly and down more aspirin than I should.

Try Noor’s blog (link above). I think you’ll enjoy her writing.


I love the AtoZ Blog Challenge. I’ve come across some amazing writers, and many have become online friends. Their pieces are varied from all types of fiction to creative non-fiction to reviews and more. That’s a big part of why I come back.

As I mentioned above, I like a challenge when writing. This gives me that opportunity with the potential to reach well beyond the people who follow me. I’m not hawking for new followers. The performer side of me wants people to want more, for the readers to take what they will from the piece that can touch them &/or make them think.

I am disappointed, again already mentioned, with my stats and comments this year. This was the smallest audience of all my years participating. I went out on a limb, poured a lot of what’s inside of me (as Noor mentioned), and while getting some amazing feedback I wonder what didn’t connect with others. Normally, I’ve had serialized stories that are long in length. I get that. Long posts are sometimes passed over, especially when you are blog hopping.

If I join in again next year, I have a lot of contemplation ahead of me.

Big thanks to Arlee Bird and all the other hosts who worked on this year’s Atoz Blog Challenge. It is obvious how much work they have put in. It shows in many ways.

Big thanks 2, to all of my readers, commenters, and supporters. Too many to name, but know your interaction is priceless.

Stay safe and healthy, everyone.


16 responses »

    • Sue, I have a number of people “requesting” that I do that. I’m just starting to get focussed again. We’ll see. Thanks for reading along, and congratulations on surviving as well.


  1. Hello Stu, Thanks for having “Liked” my Reflections post. It brought me to your blog and I’m glad to have discovered it. There was only one day during the month when I had the time to browse the whole list freely and visit bloggers who hadn’t visited my blog, because it took more time than I had just to write my own posts and reciprocate when people visited. Congrats for having completed the Challenge!


  2. Congratulations on coming up with something unique and doing it so well. I loved sitting here reading your words whilst tapping out the rhythm and trying to imagine music playing in the background! I must agree with you about long posts being passed over which is why I ensure mine can be read in around a minute. I also tend not to follow serialised stories as I can’t guarantee reading each instalment. Once again, well done and no doubt I’ll see you around!


    • You will, Keith.
      Thank you for your kind words in regards to the lyrical poems. I hope that one day I’ll be able to youtube the songs, one by one. Strangers things have happened.
      Hmm…I wonder what Bjork is doing? 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Hi Stuart,
    Thank you for visiting Beyond the Flow and checking out my A-Z. Like many years, I spent much of April writing my posts and I usually do most of my reading afterwards when I can relax. That said, I did read a few posts throughout. I’m now sitting at my desk with my morning porridge, cup of tea and looking out the window of our newly salvaged back lawn and there’s the occasional chirp of Rainbow Lorrikeets. It’s a great way to read A-Zs.
    I felt that visitors were down this year during the challenge. Prior to the challenge, I had quite a lengthy blogging break, which was purely unintentional. However, I’m researching and writing a series of books and it’s been pretty all-consuming. I decided to spend more time blogging again after ending up in lock down due to the coronavirus. I have a couple of acute medical conditions including lung disease and so I’m at high risk and don’t expect to really come out of isolation until there’s a vaccine. So, I decided to strengthen my blogging connections again which have more than sustained me through the last five years or so. While doing this, I’ve also had the rest of the family home and have also cancelled my support workers to reduce the risk of transmission.
    That said, I would’ve thought lock down would’ve brought more readers.
    Well, to use an Australian colloquialism, that’s “my two bobs’ worth”. A bob was a shilling in pre-decimal currency and means of little consequence. My husband just gave me a good one: “madder than a two bob watch”. In this context, the bob refers to cheap. He’s parents were the same age as my grandparents, so he’s pretty good with some of these older sayings.
    Well, after all of that, this comment, should count for a few.
    Best wishes,


    • Thanks for the response, Rowena. Please stay in until this has been entirely beaten and globally opened back up. Lung diseases + this pandemic= not a good combination.

      As I’ve been reading through the reflections of the other AtoZers, the low stats and comments were voiced across the board. Originally, I thought that the opposite would happen. Such is life.

      Stay safe and healthy. Again, thank you.


  4. Wonderful reflections post Stu! Perhaps the most honest I have read as yet.
    I thoroughly enjoyed your musical pieces and a raw glimpse at your soul.
    Thank you so much for sharing my thoughts and my blog- it’s just so nice of you!
    I hope you participate next year too because you’re good AtoZ company. Till then I look forward to more from you.


    • Thank you, Noor. I look forward to your posts as well. Honest? I guess so. This was a hard to handle month; can’t hide behind it say everything was peachy-keeno. You’re welcome. I felt validated that you and others have given me. I need a cooling down period; then I will go back for rewrites. Then I’ll do my darndest in finding that musician.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I can appreciate your musical eclecticism–a music fan in the same vein as I. I think you did a great job this year. I hope you find someone who can help you with your songs. Hope I can find someone like that as well.

    Thanks for participating once again and for being such a strong advocate for A to Z. Hopefully when the next one rolls around you will be renewed and ready to go again. Maybe we will have better circumstances next April. I hope so!

    Arlee Bird
    Tossing It Out


    • Arlee, I appreciate all the kind words for me and what I’ve written. This AtoZ was no exception. Staying supportive and having to take care of your share of the blogs and whatever else life throws at you are inspirational.
      I hope you find a musician as well. Maybe if one of us scores, we can see if that individual would like to connect with another lyricist. Stranger things.
      Get some needed rest, and stay healthy.


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