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!