Tuesday, April 10, 2012
There is Always Something Worthwhile:Contest Judging
I’m lucky enough to have participated as a judge in a number of writing contests over the years. Each time I volunteer I wonder what types of things will come my way, and what I’ll learn as well.
Well this year I’ve made an emotional realization about judging- it gives me hope.
I was feeling a bit down about my own writing. The evil voices of never being good enough were smacking me around. So, I took a break to go over some judging materials.
During my break from wallowing in self-pity, I thought about past contests I’ve judged, as well as the ones I’m involved with this year. Some of the pieces were amazing, we are talking “should be on the shelf NOW” amazing; some were strong, but still need a little tinkering, and some honestly had quite a way to go.
Now the “should be published” group gave me hope because it means that even really good books sometimes can’t find a home (at least not yet ;)). These folks were very publishable, yet didn’t have an agent or a contract at this time. *Yea for me! That might mean my stuff isn’t completely drivel just because I’m not published yet!*
The almost there folks gave me hope because you could SEE the diamond there- just a few tweaks and that author has a great book on their hands. *Yea for me again! I can tweak my work! I need to see the uncut diamonds in my own work too!*
The needing work folks gave me hope too. No matter what was wrong with them- EVERY entry in EVERY contest I’ve judged has something worthwhile in it. Maybe an amazing character, a unique and interesting premise, or beautiful writing. They just need to dig a bit deeper to flesh everything out- but there has always been something in the entries to make me sit up and think “wow”. *Yea for me yet again! My work also is most likely not completely hopeless, there will be things in there that I do very well. I need to believe in myself and Make It Work.*
So thanks to all the people who have entered the various contests over the years-you have given me hope in my own writing by allowing me the privilege of reading yours.
And for anyone involved in an RWA chapter that does writing contests- I strongly recommend you volunteer as a judge. The person who gains the most from it may just be you.