Until recently, I dreaded being a contest judge. However, once I earned my PRO¹ status, I sucked it up to help my chapter with the Linda Howard Award of Excellence. We had the happy misfortune of more entries than expected, and not enough judges.
What I didn't expect was how much I'd learn from the experience.
- It turns out that I've picked up a lot about writing in the last year (though I still have a long way to go), and even though I'm not an expert at applying it, I can often spot the good elements and the problems in others' writing. Being a CP has been instrumental in teaching me the art of critique (still learning that, too).
- Judging is good insight into the quality of other writers' prose. It's easy to assume that everyone else is light years ahead of you in the writing game, but the reality is that contest entrants fall all over the scale. It's helpful to get a gut check.
- Judging is more time consuming than I expected and is forcing me to manage my writing schedule so I have time for the hour (at least) needed to read and score each entry.
- It helps to have been on the other side of the judging and to know what contestants are looking for. My chapter put on a class to discuss that very topic, and it was a good reminder, but I wouldn't recommend judging to anyone who hasn't been on the receiving end of a score sheet before.
Judges have the opportunity to nurture and teach. To provide both help and encouragement. I only hope that I can live up to that ideal.
¹PRO status is granted by RWA to members who have submitted at least one completed manuscript to a publisher or agent, but have not yet been published.
The Daily Squirrel: secret
Loving Robbie Howe was foolish. All the girls swooned in the presence of the quarterback, track star, and honor roll student. How could you not love the tall blond with the lopsided smile and friendly charm? But since the night he'd changed her flat tire after soccer practice, her schoolgirl infatuation had grown into something more.
And now, somehow, the whole school new about it.
She dropped the schoolbooks in her locker with a loud thud and turned away right into a broad chest. When she looked up, Robbie's crooked grin stopped her heart and she struggled for air.
“I hear you have a secret,” he said, his deep blue eyes never leaving her face.
Oh God. Her cheeks heated and she fought back tears of embarrassment. Her legs wouldn't cooperate with her desire to run.
“I have one too,” he said. Then he leaned forward and kissed her.
Suddenly, running was the last thing on her mind.