My brother is an English teacher–not that you’d guess that having grown up with the guy. Regardless, he gave me a unique opportunity to support young Georgia authors through judging his school’s entrants in the Young Georgia Authors’ Writing Competition.
It’s amazing the quality of most of the work. Students from 9th through 12th grade–about 25 entries in all–inspired me with their work. What rose to the top in my humble opinion were the pieces that spoke of personal experiences, which ran…sauntered, sashayed, and even sprinted the gamut between euphoric and tragic.
I look forward to seeing how the other judges rated the works. It’s a thrill of sorts to be asked to judge a competition like this. I guess it’s a kind of high-water mark in my career, being asked to judge someone else’s writing. But truth be told, it’s all subjective.
Sure you can check grammar and syntax and spelling as I did as a freelance proofreader, but in the end that stuff is second fiddle to the question of the writing’s quality.
And who can define quality? We all can, but only for ourselves. FromRobert Pirsig’s Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance:
“Quality . . . you know what it is, yet you don’t know what it is. But that’s self-contradictory. But some things are better than others, that is, they have more quality. But when you try to say what the quality is, apart from the things that have it, it all goes poof! There’s nothing to talk about. But if you can’t say what Quality is, how do you know what it is, or how do you know that it even exists? If no one knows what it is, then for all practical purposes it doesn’t exist at all. But for all practical purposes it really does exist. What else are the grades based on? Why else would people pay fortunes for some things and throw others in the trash pile? Obviously some things are better than others . . . but what’s the betterness? . . . So round and round you go, spinning mental wheels and nowhere finding anyplace to get traction. What the hell is Quality? What is it?”
Writing is like wine–it’s like a coworker said when I worked at Hal’s Package: “If it tastes good to you, it’s good wine!”
To all of the writers out there, cheers.