Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Here Come De Judge

by Rachael Phillips

I know, I know. The Genesis judges aren't perfect. I, too, upon receiving my critiques and scores back, have said something like this:

  • "I can't believe I paid money to have you read my stuff!"
  • "Aha! [leafing through ten dictionaries, the Chicago Manual of Style, Strunk's, and the Bible] "I knew you were wrong about that apostrophe!"
  • "You made exactly one comment about my manuscript. Did you even read it?"
  • "Can you read?"

The most saintly of us competitors fall back on praying for our judges--if not for their salvation, certainly for their walk with God. Obviously, they don't know Him very well, or they would recognize the superior talents with which He gifted us.

I never quite reached that plateau of generosity. Usually, upon scanning scores, I threw my manuscript into a drawer until I had undergone my official detox process. It consisted of swearing off writing forever; throwing a few books; pounding a few pillows; and eating a few bags of chocolate while crying more than a few tears.

Eventually, I did look on the bright side. Checking out the judge's publishing credentials, I told myself, "Well, if she/he can get published, anyone can."

One year, however, properly prepared with books to throw, pillows to pound, and bags of chocolate to snarf, I stared at my scores and received a phone call: I had finaled. Instead of detoxing, I celebrated--and even more when at conference I won my category.

The following year, however, I discovered that past Genesis winners were strongly encouraged to serve as judges.

Me? A judge?

I thought of the scripture, "In the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you."

I heard God laughing.

Since then, I have judged the Genesis several times, and I know other authors who have wedged critiquing manuscripts between sorting socks, working a day job, baking birthday cakes, visiting in-laws, surviving root canals, soothing angry spouses, attending kids' plays (three times), shopping for prom dresses, spending time with amorous spouses, starting potty training, attending traffic court classes--and somewhere in there, too, she/he probably is trying to write a book or two or three. Or edit a few dozen.

No, Genesis judges aren't perfect. A few sadistic egomaniacs no doubt have sneaked into our ranks, as they do in every profession, organization, or ministry. Sometimes, when called upon to judge, we say "yes" mostly because we're really bad at saying "no." Still, many of us judge the Genesis because although we, too, cringe at receiving critiques, we know we would not have progressed this far without them. In other words: we care.

Are we perfect? No. (God's laughing even harder.)

Please feel free to pray for our walk with Him. And pray that with His help, we'll do the best job possible.



  1. I would be more nervous about judging someone's work than being judged! Good for you for giving up your time to give back.

    Wagging Tales

  2. It's a humbling thouhght, but yes, when we pray and ask God to guide us, we can't go wrong

  3. Thanks for commenting, Charmaine and Holly. The process isn't easy for anyone. May the Lord direct all our efforts in becoming better writers!

  4. Yep, definintely wrong about that apostrophe!

    Contest judges are unsung heroes, and probably get extra stars in their crowns in Heaven.

  5. It's so funny when you're not the one going through it.

  6. Yes, Ann, I've had nightmares about that apostrophe every year since I first entered the Genesis :-) And yeah, Mary, like slipping on a banana peel, much funnier when it applies to someone else.

  7. Hope this comment doesn't get missed due to its tardiness.

    I'll give another interesting POV. In my case, I'd rather be a judge than a contestant. But what are my reasons? Because -- either due to my personality, my Spiritual gifting, my Toastmaster training, or all of the above -- I'd be looking at judging as an opportunity to encourage rather than to criticize (which I'm sure is the norm among Genesis judges). Maybe that's why I find it easier to find time to critique than to write stuff to critique, which I'm well behind on.

    Have a blessed day.