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