Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Alrighty then...

Sooo…I got a set of scores back from a contest this week regarding my current WIP. As is not uncommon when only two judges read an entry, I had wildly differing scores. I can handle that; not everyone likes my voice or appreciates my jokes.

Judge One had some good criticism and gave me a couple of things to think about. Judge Two…well, let’s just say she didn’t like it much at all.

She called my writing “stiff” and “mechanical” and told me I needed to get a good critique partner (if my CP were a cat, she’d be arched and hissing right now). She advised me to join an RWA chapter. She insinuated I needed a thesaurus. She also didn’t like my hero’s name.


But a good portion of Judge Two’s comments revolved around the fact that I am obviously prejudiced against an entire geographical region of which I knew next to nothing about. If I knew anything about the region and its people, I’d know these people were not “low lifes” who “swung from tree to tree” (her words, not mine).

Talk about your low blows. I've been called a lot of things in my life, but never a racist. And, just for the record, I do know a bit about that particular region (gee, I’ve even been there), and looking over my entry, I’m not quite sure what fueled her statements.

Yes, a couple of the characters may look down their noses at these people, but the views of the characters do not necessarily reflect the views of the author. (Heck, those characters would think I was a backwater barbarian who swung from a tree, and I’m not even from that same part of the world!)

Now, this same chapter the judge took so much offense to has been read by at least four people I don’t know (another contest), most of the Playfriends, my CP, a published author, and an editor (who requested the full). Surely one of those people would have mentioned if it sounded racist, right? Maybe at least the other judge in this contest would have said something?

The Playfriends are convinced the judge is simply off her meds at the moment. Counselor Shelley reminds me there are folks who will take offense at pretty much anything. The Darling Geek insists I’m a good person, and my CP is righteously indignant on my behalf (and pretty insulted herself). They all say I need to just ignore this judge and shake it off.

But I’m having a hard time shaking it off. I lost almost a whole day of my writing challenge (which I needed to catch up with SP since she’s leaving me in the dust) worrying about this. I found myself re-reading the first chapter (again, after promising myself I’d leave the first 50 pages alone and quit futzing with them until the book was finished), looking for whatever I may have said that made this judge think I’m some kind of racist. After all, if she took offense, there’s a chance someone else will. Is everyone who read this chapter secretly thinking I’m a racist and just didn’t bother to call me on it?

Yikes. Scary thought.

I’ve got to let this go. Chalk it up to… I don’t know…something and get one with my WIP. I like this story. I like the characters. And I like my hero’s name just fine.

People say you should always write thank you notes to contest judges. I’m big on the writing of thank you notes (just ask the Playfriends), but I don’t think I could quite bring myself to write one to this judge. She probably wouldn’t want to be subjected to my stiff and mechanical writing again anyway. And I’d be hard-pressed not to mention how if she wants to pick apart my writing, she should watch her own spelling and grammatical errors while doing so. (Meow.) Since my grandmother would insist the phrase “Bite me” would not be appropriate in a thank you note, I’m honestly at a loss for words.

Hey, there’s a first time for everything.

Off to write more of my offensive manuscript. I at least want to put in a good showing in this challenge…


Happy Anniversary to my Darling Geek! You're still the one!


Nini said...

You have my ~~hugs~~ for today! Shame on her! Are we sure it's a her? Not a lower life form?

You keep doing what you're doing. I was once asked:

Who are you writing for? If you can't put yourself first, then you can't write.

So when i write, i write for me, making sure i would buy the book by the blurb on the back.

You can do it!!!!

As an afterthought or aftermention....and Angel, this is for you...

I wrote for 30 minutes yesterday. Not on my WIP, not on my short story, but a small 250 word challenge on the eH board. It was difficult to put all the 'other things' out of my head, but write i did and i loved it!!!


Today i'm going to write for 20 minutes. This time though, it's on my short story!

Nini :)

Rhonda Nelson said...

1st, stop entering these bleeping contests!!!!! Enter the Maggies and the Golden Heart and THAT'S IT. I have read your stuff. You're writing is *not* stiff and mechanical. And racist??? Sweet God. Seriously, PC. Protect the work and protect your sanity. I'm so sorry about this--I know it hurts.

2nd, Happy Anniversary! Hope you and DG have a wonderful day.

Maven LJ said...

Too bad you can't send her an anonymous thank you note filled with misspelled words and wrongly used words and perhaps a few observations about her judging style. Might be fun. Hm. Write it and don't send. That'll make you feel better.

The first contest I entered as a published author got a very low score from one judge, and her only note was "Not very realistic." I was crushed, until the DH looked at me, puzzled and sympathetic, and said, "It's supposed to be realistic?" :-) Well, no, not really.

Obviously this judge is off her rocker. You hit a hot button, maybe. Trust me, they're out there, and this won't be your only brush with the type, I'm sorry to say. They write reviews at Amazon and other online bookstores and message boards. They will, on occasion, even write letters, if they have an address for you. It has taken me years to learn not to take these negative comments personally, and you will learn, too. In time. Long story short, she doesn't get it. That's her problem, not yours.


Pat L. said...

Yes, try to let it go; it may take a little bit. Judge sounds like an idiot - no need to be nasty.

Happy Anniversary; hope you have a wonderful day. Today is my daughter and sil's 2nd anniversary today!

Smarty Pants said...

Compared to the uppity characters in your book, we are all "low lifes" that "swing from tree to tree." Don't let it get to you.

And honestly...if anyone needs a thesaurus or a dictionary, its ME, not you...

I can just envision your CP hissing. :)

Darling Geek said...

Any word you have to hunt for in a thesaurus is the wrong word. There are no exceptions to this rule.
- Stephen King

And a happy anniversary to you too!

Kelley St. John said...

I absolutely LOVE Darling Geek's quote from Stephen King!

And for the judge, burn the scoresheet. It'll make you feel better, and I'm speaking from experience. You've already hit the goal -- the full request from the editor. And look at it this way--now your elephant skin is ready for that one reviewer who doesn't quite get you when THIS BOOK IS PUBLISHED :)


Angel said...

Awww! How sweet of Darling Geek!

Hugs, Sweetie! I know it is tough, but you've got to keep plowing on. I think the overwhelming numbers of people who read and liked it, compared to the one person who didn't, tells you everything you need to know.


Jen said...

PC, I'm not much of a hugger, but I'd give you a hug if I could get to you. What ridiculous feedback -- actually I don't think it merits the term feedback. When something is that skewed you have no choice but to dismiss it. Honestly, when someone crosses the line of rational and begins to sound vitriolic, they lose credibility with me.

Shrug her off and consider yourself having survived yet another round of training because this won't be the last time you will read something like that about your work. Why? Because it's true or because you're a bad writer? Nope. Because there are people out there that will delight in tearing you down, unfortunately.

Playground Monitor said...

Focus on these words: an editor (who requested the full).

SHE can buy your book; that judge can't.

I really had to laugh at the "join an RWA chapter" part. You're about as joined as they get -- local officer, serving on national committees, plugged in all the way.

When the aforementioned editor buys this book, then you can send the judge a note and thank her for making you mad enough that you didn't give up. And ask how many books she has published. I'd almost be willing to bet my IRA that the answer is zero.

Happy anniversary to you and DG! My son and DIL celebrated their 2nd anniversary yesterday.


Lynn Raye Harris said...

Hugs, PC! I've had those before. I had a judge in one contest telling me about how my sentences were all passive (she thought -ing constructions were, without exception, passive -- huh?) and how I needed to practice, join a chapter, and learn to write. I safely ignored her, and even sent the thank you, because hers was the score dropped in that contest. My entry was a finalist and requested by the editor.

I wonder how she felt when she saw my title as a finalist knowing she'd ripped me to shreds. Probably thought the other judges were stupid. But, I could tell from her comments that SHE was the newbie. Sometimes, you just get the newbie. Other times, it defies explanation.

So big hugs and get back on the horse! I can only agree with what everyone else is telling you.

Happy Anniversary, btw! Today is a big day for me too. But it's just me getting older, not the marriage (that's next week). :)

Smarty Pants said...

Is it your b-day Lynn??? Happy Birthday! I'm awful with dates, just ask my Citibank card. :)

I should've sent a card to the judges that scored me so low I got to drop theirs and average my other scores. I finaled in 2 contests that way. If they'd given me one or two pity points, I'd been in the bottom of the heap!

Kathy said...

Happy Anniversary, PC and DG!! Wishing you many, many more!

Happy Birthday, Lynn!!!

I agree with what everyone has said, PC. A racist? P-l-e-a-s-e! Give me a break! Plug into a RWA chapter? What? Are you whacked? This is a lesson for all of us who judge contests. We must be careful to consider the author's voice, genre, and style with optimum care. I once had a judge tell me that a certain gun wasn't invented during my story's time frame. E-x-c-u-s-e M-e! I researched it. I know it's true. And yet, I went back through my research to double-check allowing the judge to make me feel as if I was stupid. Let's face it. Sometimes you get a judge, like LJ said, who just doesn't get it or a judge who doesn't know anything about your genre. That's unfortunate but it can't be helped. You know that judging is offered on a volunteer basis. No one can control what that judge is going through, what failures they've incurred or what problems they're dealing with. And yes, sometimes they take it out on you, the poor author who's work, as a result, may get side-lined because of it. That must take a lot of anger and aggression. Pity the fool.

Gee, I don't think anyone gets my writing but I'd like to believe that sometimes visionaries come before their time. LOL. Hang in there! When the claws draw back in, you'll see this for the trivial nuisance that it is.


Lynn Raye Harris said...

Thanks for the BD wishes. Didn't mean to hijack the day. :)

You know, I think I've been the bad judge before. Didn't mean to be, and thought I was being helpful, but I know when I was a gung-ho newbie and learning all the "rules", I probably focused on them too much. I regret any hurt feelings I caused by being too harsh as a contest judge. I don't know for sure that I did, but it bothers me that I might have.

So now I just try to pay it forward by always pointing out the positive. Every entry has something good to commend it, even if you have to search for it.

Not, of course, that I'm suggesting PC's writing needs to be searched for something good! Really, don't sweat that racist stuff. I once had a judge tell me that my heroine had down's syndrome. Really? How did that happen and I never noticed!? And this was a published author, so it's not always the newbies who don't get it. :)

Angel said...

My favorite was the contest judge who told me I needed to take a certain class to help with revisions on my manuscript, when I have taken that class and used it to revise my entry before entering. :)


Instigator said...

I'm chiming in late due to a stint of jury duty this week....

I agree with a lot that's already been said. You need to absolutely ignore this judge because she doesn't know anything. DON'T let her take any more of your creative energy and focus away! You're giving her power when she deserves none. You're a wonderful writer! And an editor has requested this project. That's more important than anything anyone else has to say. You don't know this judge's credentials but you sure do know the editor's.

Happy Anniversary!


Nini said...


Happy Anniversary!!

Nini :)

PCCP said...


Could you please send me that judge's address? In lieu of your thank you note, I would like to send her the big hairball I just hacked up:-)