Friday, June 03, 2005

I have my Level 1 Motorcycle License!!!
Yep - I passed those tests with flying colours. In fact my ONLY mistake came on something that WASN'T in the book! Oh well. So now I have the piece of paper in my hot little hand, I start the practical side next week. Wednesday night there's a classroom session, then I suit up and actually learn to ride next Saturday and Sunday! I'm soooo excited about this. I figure I'll have lots of fun and find out if I'm meant to actually drive a bike or be a passenger only. I've been itching to try it for the last couple of summers and even talked about it. Now I'm actually going to DO it :-)

Elsewhere in Blogland...
Lynn has a great new look for her Road to Writing Blog, now titled A Jolt of Reality. Hop on over to see.

Gina Welborn now has a blog and the entry that caught my eye is one on Judging. Yep, and she hits on some of my pet peeves about Judge Training.

Now don't get me wrong, like Gina I think that training judges is a GOOD idea. BUT, sometimes there are absolutes included that I just can't agree with. Years ago on a judge training listserv I was almost drummed out of the corps for daring to suggest I would actually USE the lower two scores on the scale. We were told it wasn't a good idea as it discouraged the entrants. Well, I'm sorry, but if you only use the top three marks in a five mark system, those at the higher end are going to receive absolutely perfect scores, which, IMHO, isn't generally realistic. Nor is it fair to those writers who show some talent but genuinely still need a lot of practise before their work will be at a level that won't send their submissions right to the circular file. Letting them BELIEVE their work is already at a near publishable level when it's not, is just plain mean. Far meaner, I believe, than using 1s and 2s backed up with specific and helpful comments.

Note the conditions I place on using those lower scores. As a judge, you have no right to score people low and not explain WHY you're doing so. The only way they can improve their writing is to LEARN. As a judge I've seen some amazing stories buried deep underneath poor prose, bouncing pov and a plethora of romance fiction clich�s. So yes, I do use the lower score range, but I also make my reasons for doing so clear. Interestingly enough, the nicest thank you notes I've received from contest entrants have been from those people I've marked low.

Gina brings up one thing I'd like to address. Her judge training tells her NOT to comment on non-American spellings. She contends she'll do so, but not score anyone down, but it's something she likes to mention they need to be aware of. Well, being a Canuck, I can say that the majority of non-US writers are only too aware of the differences and the need to use US spelling when submitting to American editors and agents. My feelings aren't hurt when a judge points it out, it's more like I'm annoyed that they think I'm an idiot for not KNOWING. For me it all depends on HOW it's pointed out, but in general it's not an issue because I've learned to change all my spellings to US before entering American contests. However, please do keep in mind that we foreigners are aware of the differences in spelling and grammar.

That said - her commentary is insightful and something anyone thinking of judging should take note of, along with contest coordinators and those who train the judges. Giving us absolutes isn't any more helpful than just turning people loose with no direction at all.

Ok - I have lots of work to catch up on now, so I'd best be off :-)



Lynn said...

WOO HOO on getting that license! I'm so proud of you.

Thanks a bunch for the plug on my new blog look. I'm feeling pretty darn proud of myself for actually getting it up and running.

Isn't Gina's post wonderful? She has an amazing capacity for articulating her thoughts, and it makes me jealous. I wasn't aware those things went on in contests...could be because I've never entered one.

Gina Welborn said...

LOL. I feel so special now. Thanks, Tess, for the mention in your blog and Lynn for the compliment. If a story is obviously not written for a US market, say the setting is Great Britain, then I probably wouldn't mention US-Brit spelling and punctuation differences. But if the entry has a US publisher listed as the target pub, then I'd mention it.

I just received my GOLDEN GATEWAY entries. One is an entry I've judged before. Should be interesting.