So, today I’m going to tell you a story about how surprisingly subjective opinions about your creative work really are. Now, I have known this about my artwork for a long time. I absolutely accept that a painting can appeal to one person and not another. However, I always felt that writing was somehow different. That because of rules of grammar and structure and character and plot, etc. that judging was more easily quantified, either it was good writing or not.
Recently, I entered a children’s writer’s competition. (I know,”Children’s?’. Yes, I forgot to tell you, I’ve gone off on another tangent though I prefer to think that I”ve simply added another string to my bow.) Anyhow, I’ve written some children’s stories and decided to send one off. This competition is one of the few where they actually give you the judges feedback. I love that! It is so helpful, usually.
The first part of the judging sheet consists of the usual – compliance with conditions, spelling, grammar, suitability for target age group, etc. The good news is my spelling and grammar are right up there. (I hope I don’t blot my copybook in this post.) Then, there is a whole slew of questions, each marked out of 10, on plot, characterisation, writing technique, reader enjoyability, readiness for submission and last but not least the X Factor (An overall mark out of 10) and finally the judges comments.
My story’s title is ‘Earth to Jess’. Obviously I thought it was ok, otherwise I wouldn’t have sent it.
Judge 1 gave me 10’s all the way, apart from one 9 (Even the X Factor was 10). Whoo hoo! And, of course, they made some nice remarks at the end. Giving me a score of 97.66%.
Believe me I was grinning from ear to ear after reading that one! I puffed my chest out and eagerly read the next scoresheet for more kudos….
3,3,4,4,3,3,3,6,4,3,4,2 and on and on it went. 6 was as high as it got and that only twice. X Factor 4…The comments were kind and tried to be encouraging. Giving me an overall of 42.99%.
Gutted! Ah misery! My world collapsed. How would I ever show my face to the world again? Hang on, the other Judge gave me 97%. What’s going on here? (I used stronger language than that, but I’m trying to be a children’s author after all.) I have since re-read both papers over and over. I still don’t get it. What can I say,,,different strokes, different folks.
When I feel stronger, I will go back over it an edit/re-write. Lol. I’m not really all that upset but I am bemused and confused.
All of the above is written to reassure myself that it is all a matter of opinion after all and ALSO to let any other writer out there who happens to read this that they shouldn’t take a bad review too much to heart. Yes, use it to push you to make improvements, but don’t let the bastards win. No, no I didn’t mean that! I mean, don’t give up, your next submission may fall into the hands of someone who loves it and you’ll win and/or be published in no time. Good luck my friends…Ciao for now Rosa.