Thursday, January 26, 2006

A Darn Cool Experience

Yesterday, I finished judging my stack of entries for the RWA’s Golden Heart Contest, which is a contest known for recognizing excellence in unpublished romantic fiction. It’s one of the top competitions for unpublished writers of romance and I felt honored and excited to be asked to judge.

Wait! Before you, I’m not going to tell you what category I judged or talk about the entries and scores. LOL!

But it is a relief to have completed the task. The entries have been scored and the scores have been mailed to RWA’s national headquarters. My part is finished and I can breathe a little easier. Whew.

Believe me, I felt the weight of responsibility in getting this judging thing right—my shoulders still ache from the pressure. So many writers depend on judges to give it their best shot, and fortunately, I can sleep well at night now because I know that’s exactly what I did. And you know, I'm happy I found a way to volunteer at the national level, too.

It was such an eye-opening experience for me to do this, though. Instead of critiquing the entries (something that I’m used to doing), I had to judge them. It took some major re-thinking for me to look at a submission and decide if it was one of the best stories I’d ever read…or not. It did give me more freedom to read the story for the story’s sake, as I didn’t have to go through it and figure out how I can help this writer strengthen the story. Oh yeah, there are contests where judges critique as well, but this wasn’t one of them—thank goodness!

So, for me, it was a darn cool experience. And if you haven’t tried it already, I highly recommend you do so. Have you guys ever been a judge in a writing competition? What experiences do you want to share?

Happy Writing!

Michele Cwiertny