I’m a Judge in a Writing Competition

Yes, really!  But not a writing judge as you know it, Dear Reader.

Scales (of justice)
From http://pixabay.com/

Not poetry, though.  Oh no.  Charlie doesn’t do poetry.

It happened like this.  Some time ago, I paid £12 entry fee to enter a story for the Poetic Republic’s 2015 Short Story Competition, for which the first prize is £2000.  Not to be sniffed at.  When I subbed my story, I read that Poetic Republic’s comps weren’t like other comps, in that there would be no panel of judges (professional or otherwise) and that judging would be carried out by the short story ‘participants’ themselves.  So that’s how it’s all happened.  In the past, I’ve been a member of several different online writing communities, on which I have been encouraged to comment/review other members’ work, and my ‘judging’ is pretty much like that.

After the submission deadline, there are two rounds of judging, followed by a final shortlist.  For both of the first two rounds, you have to log in, click on  ‘judge entries’, then click on the link for the comp you are interested in, whereupon the system throws up seven random competition entries (never your story, obviously), for you to read and comment on.  Then you select your first, second and third choices.  We have just finished the second round.  It has been illuminating, because, although you always read round a mag before you submit or, in the case of a comp, last year’s entries, you never normally get to see what you’re up against in real time.  Obviously, I would love to win this one, but, having seen the quality of some of the other stories, I don’t expect to.

As I keep saying, I’m not doing much writing at the moment, unless you count that other sort of judging – marking students’ work, giving ‘feedback’ as we now call it.  I don’t know about you, Dear Reader, but I loath and detest the term ‘feedback’; it makes me think of regurgitation.  However, only 18 days now until the end of term and 13 weeks until the day I actually retire, in the sense of no longer being employed – not required to do anything, or be paid (except for my pension).  This last bit is quite scary btw.  In the meantime, it’s teach-teach-teach, mark-mark-mark, cover for colleagues who are off sick, chase students who are absent, worry about results, go to useless meetings.  It’s strange to think that all the fevered activity will…  Suddenly.  And.  Abruptly.   STOP.

Visual Basic logo
From http://visual-studio-2013.en.softonic.com/

One of the crazy things I will have to do before the end of term is learn enough Visual Basic to support a class of students learning VB (with another tutor, who’s running out of time).  You remember that one of my new year’s resolutions was to learn some programming?  Code Academy, here we come!


6 thoughts on “I’m a Judge in a Writing Competition

  1. A really clever concept. Like the idea that all the participants will get feedback on their work. Might have a go myself next year, although the fee is a little steep. Perhaps you could put a link, on your blog, to the winners so we can gauge the standard. In the meantime, good luck with your entry.

  2. Yes – feedback – nasty squeaky sounds at concerts! I don’t know about you but the idea of being retired terrifies me – I AM NOT RETIRED- I keep telling (yelling at) my sister who refuses to believe that writing is work. OK so I’m not what you might call earning a living by it… yet! Good luck with the marking.

  3. I’ll go for nasty squeaky sounds at concerts. Better than regurgitation.

    Regarding retirement, I’m absolutely sure that now is the right time to go (even though I do worry about not having much money). At my last appraisal, my boss asked me if I was still passionate about teaching, to which I answered an emphatic no. I find I’m out of sympathy with what my college is trying to achieve (an ‘outstanding’ Ofsted grade) whereas I’m more interested in sharing what I know with students. I hate the qualifications my students have to study and hate myself for having to put them under such inhuman pressure. I shall however miss my wonderful colleagues enormously.

  4. Yes, Julie, the fee was a bit steep, thinking about it. The final round of judging has just started by the way and I’m not on it, nor were some of the stories I regarded as very high quality.

    If you look on their site, you will see the winners of previous comps.

  5. Interesting way to run a competition. I imagine participants could learn an awful lot from it. Noticing what helps you decide which of your random 7 is best or worst should give pointers for your own work.

  6. The selections of 7 stories were quite random. I’ve probably missed some treats. Mine was not in the final 7 though.

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