Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Judging Flashes: Part II

Well, @TheGlitterLady's #TuesdayTales has come and gone. There were a record 24 entries -- and all were well done.

I have officially decided that judging is only marginally easier than performing a root canal on oneself. I ended up with about... oh... 24 favorites. But one can't just say "everyone's a winner!" Life ain't perpetual kindergarten, yanno.
Every contest needs a winner. That's kind of the point...

There were so many good pieces that I ended up focusing on writing-craft things to narrow the field. I made myself get nitpicky about stuff like spelling, grammar, and word redundancy just to help whittle down the contenders. Sadly, this affected some of my first-glance favorites. But it helped me make my decision.

To see the entries and to try your hand at choosing the "Best" one, visit the Tuesday Tales #5 Challenge. I'll wait...

See what I mean? They're good, aren't they?

To see if you agree with my choices, see the posting of Tuesday Tales #5 Winners.

Judging wasn't new to me. We all do it every day -- though, perhaps, not in as public a forum. But each day I decide whether or not to pick up a book.

Once I pick a book up, I judge whether or not to read it all the way through.

Once I've finished reading it, I judge whether or not I thought it well done and worthwhile.

But I LOVE that car! My opinions are mine alone.
Something I love may leave another person as cold as a Michigan winter.
To illustrate: one of my best friends is taking a college literature course. An early assignment was to read Shirley Jackson's classic short story "The Lottery." Which my friend hated.

First published in The New Yorker in 1948, "The Lottery" was loathed by many. Readers cancelled their subscriptions (never a good thing in a managing editor's mind), the story was banned in South Africa, and Jackson received hate mail for months after publication. Her own family didn't like the story. But it's still here. It has been adapted for television, radio, live theatre, and (weirdly) ballet.

When I tweeted about the BFF's reaction, responses were predictably mixed. Some remember loathing the story and begrudging the time it took out of their high school lives to read it. Others remember liking, if not loving it. It stuck with them over the years. It bothered them. It made them think.

I guess the point is, different readers judge a story's merit on different criteria. One person's Thumbs Up is another's Thumbs Down Kill-Him-And-Get-It-Over-With. Our goal as writers isn't to make everyone love us. For starters, that's impossible. And it's not healthy.

Our goal, instead, is to first write something that we love. Then we can take it and share it with the world. With any luck, we'll find readers who share our opinions and judge us worthy of their time. We're writing for them. The rest can find something else to read...

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