Saturday, July 12, 2008

Never Volunteer!

This golden rule is engraved deep into the psyche of every service person, yet I seem to observe it more by breach than observance and have seldom regretted the act.

My latest fall from grace saw me judging nine entries from a writing competition for unpublished authors and they were a mixed bunch. The hardest thing in these tasks is tempering criticism with encouragement and imposing neither your voice, nor your style, on others. The gross errors (over-writing, dialogue tempo, poorly realized images, etc.) are easy, but how do you tighten writing where the voice and the style are the antithesis of yours? Do you fall back on generalities,which are useless...or give examples, which are misleading at best.

I did my best with them all (one took eleven hours and it was only twelve thousand words of synopsis and first two chapters) and hoped that my imitation of Solomon was not too frayed at the edges.

As an aside, isn't it odd how certain tasks call naturally for quotations from the Bible? It seems to fit the act of judgement better than the Koran, or the Analects, or the Vedas. Shakespeare, and certainly Machiavelli, don't quite cut the mustard, but my correspondence in this venture have been peppered with Biblical quotes.

It's an odd life.