Tuesday, October 27

Perhaps eenie meenie miney moe is the best route

Whenever anyone asks me to do something for them because I am A Professional Writer and Editor, I do two things: 1) Feel smugly satisfied, 2) Accept. Ninety-nine percent of the time, these are things I want to do.

For instance, starting next quarter, I'm going to be the editor of the Forsyth County Humane Society newsletter. I love me some animals, but I'm not in a position to foster or adopt any at the moment for the next decade, so this is a great way to volunteer. Plus, my best friend is FCHS's Vice President, and she threatened to not be my friend anymore if I didn't do it.

The other day I got a call from a friend who we went to church with when Noah was a youth minister. Her kids' school is having a literature contest (poems and stories on the theme "Beauty is...") and she wanted to know if I'd be the judge.

I'll go ahead and admit that one of my main character flaws is liking the idea of sitting in judgment of others when in reality I HATE judging (unless I'm the one being judged, and I'm winning), a fact I always forget while I'm basking in the warmth of flattery. I mean, I don't even like watching the end of dog shows, because I can't stand that only one dog can win, and it's usually the standard poodle.

So why on earth did I agree to judge this elementary-school literature contest when deep down I knew that I'd feel responsible for crushing the creative dreams of those poor children who don't receive first, second, third or honorable mention?

Now watch as I equate this literature contest to a dog show: In both situations, I feel like a cruel puppet master, because the dogs and the children think they're just having fun, but in reality they're being scrutinized. "Fluffy, I know you skipped the tunnel because you like the balance beam better, but that makes you dumb and YOU LOSE."

My solution to this moral dilemma is to put this off as long as possible. Because Noah refused to do it for me.


Anonymous said...

I'm not a fan of judging either. But I'm sure you will do fine!

I got nothing else. Sorry....

Slamdunk said...

With the essay contest, don't forget to involve your husband as a helper judge.

You can have him read through the stacks of essays and then argue about which ones are the best. It makes for great quality time--not that evlauating papers with a spouse has ever happened to me or anything....

May @ Anne and May said...

I shall tell you a story. There is a French school in my city. I told a mother I know, Someday I want my kids to go to the French school.

She said, Oh no! The French school is too unkind. If one day your child draws an elephant and then the next day they draw a squiggle, they will say to your child, We are very disappointed in you. You can draw elephants.

I think I was supposed to say, Oh how terrible! Instead I thought, This French school sounds perfect!


What doesn't end them will make 'em stronger!

Dawn said...

You can take solace in knowing that at least *this* school uses normal contests to teach the value of literature. Once, my little sis had an assignment to "make" her own book (write, illustrate, and bind a masterpiece), and then the teacher gathered all the students around an oil keg out back and they enjoyed (read: tried to not embarrass themselves by crying) a good ol' fashioned book-burning. . . as an introduction to their next reading assignment, _1984_!
Besides, if you make any of the kids cry. . . it's Noah's fault for not helping you pick a different winner.

Dusty @AllThingsG+D said...

Eeek. That's a tricky one. I always cheer for the underdog, so if it were me I'd pick the kid with the most spelling errors (albeit the most heart), give him a big ol' trophy, absolutely make his day, shut his parents up, and he'd probably go on to write the next great American novel with his newfound confidence. And end world hunger.

Kimberly Stuart said...

I want you to know that I would enjoy reading even about, say, skin lesions if you are the one writing.

Love the blog. Love your writing.


p.s. True story: My mother was Tulip Queen in her home town in northwest Iowa, 1969. Her speech, akin to "Beauty is..." began like this: "Life has loveliness to sell."

Ruminate on that a bit, won't you? She gave that speech all over the state for MONTHS, clad in a Dutch costume and wooden shoes. Judge on, fair Judger.

Erin said...

Copswife—I read a few of them last night, including one that was a riddle, and it was so much fun, I think I can get over it.

Slamdunk—I've already involved him. I read him the aforementioned riddle, and he got it wrong. Outsmarted by a 6 year old riddler!

May—I know of that French school (didn't Jodi Foster go there?). Somehow I'd feel better about being pushed intellectually if someone speaking French was the one doing it.

Dawn—I...I...oh dear. And I thought my mother-in-law had the school story to take the cake: An actual teacher put a sign on her classroom door depicting a clown and the phrase "Even clowns needs to know how to read."

G+D—That is my only consolation.

Kimberly—No, *you're* the best! Seriously, I began your book last night and raced through the first four chapters. Lovin' it! Book promo forthcoming.

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