I received a very nice thank you note from a contestant I judged yesterday. I gave her a perfect score, which is actually not too rare for me even though we’ve already established that I’m the hanging judge. When a story clicks, it clicks. But this letter was really uplifting because the author had been through so many ups and downs (like all of us) and had decided this was going to be her last run for the gold after writing forever. After doing so well in this contest, she decided to enter the Golden Heart® this year and I have no doubt I’ll see her sometime, somewhere…soon.
It reminded me of my contest warpath. I always forwarded thank you notes when I could. When the contests were mostly paper based, I wrote paper notes and mailed them. I’m surprised how few thank yous I’ve received for judging. Someone had told me it was good etiquette to thank judges and that stuck with me.
Sure, sometimes I get the terse “Thank you for judging. Your comments were interesting.” But that’s fine too. 🙂
In any case, I’ve actually had past judges seek me out after Butterfly Swords finaled to ask if this was me and to congratulate me. If nothing else, it’s a way to connect. This really is such a small, small world in this business.
When you’re running a marathon, random people will cheer you on by saying things like “Looking good” and “See you at the finish line.” You know they’re just trying to be nice, but it actually helps. Whenever I got a contest entry back with all those lovely comments, whether they liked or disliked my writing, and they ended with “Hope to see this on the shelves” or “This needs work”, it really helped me. The harshest judges comments are a hundred times better than getting a form rejection. Because now you have somewhere to go.
Oct 22, 2009 @ 10:48:56
I agree with your view on the harsher judges. Even though it’s painful, the harsher comments can help you craft your work better.
So while I cringe the first time I read my critique group’s statements on my prose, I’m incredibly thankful for their insight.
Oct 23, 2009 @ 14:03:21
This is great advice! A little kindness and appreciation goes a long way with people in this overworked and under payed industry.
Oct 24, 2009 @ 10:56:50
Good for you for sending the note! I’m sure she needed it. There are so many judges who look to nitpick your entries but when you have a judge who really gets your work, I think that’s the best feeling.
I’m sure she’ll always remember it 🙂