I had a lovely thing happen to me this morning. I was asked to judge a prestigious writing award in its final stages.
Unfortunately, I had to decline. I have back to back deadlines looming.
But you know what? If I’d really wanted to do it, I could have found time. We do. When something occurs in our busy life that excites us, we find the means to do it.
I declined because of the deadlines, but hiding behind that excuse was another reason.
I’m a lousy judge.
I really am. I have some preconceived notions that prevent me from being impartial:
- Characters matter to me more than anything. You can have the greatest plot under the sun, but if I don’t like the characters, the book is meh to me.
- Common sense matters, too. In any book, things should make sense. Romance is not an exception. Sex does not take the place of thought. You don’t have sex in a bush when there are people with machetes looking for you. You don’t suddenly lose your mind when you see a guy with his shirt off.
- I like to see the evolving of love in a relationship. I don’t think two strangers look at each other across a crowded room and suddenly fall in love. Lust, yes. Love? Not so much. I love watching two people realizing that someone cares for them, that they have lots of stuff in common, that the other is a port in a storm, so to speak.
- I have absolutely nothing against erotica. If it floats your boat, go grab a pair of oars, but as far as being classified as romance? Eh, not my thing.
Trust me when I say that it’s a true compliment to be asked to judge, but it’s a far, far better thing* (and much fairer to the contest entrants) to beg off.
(*With apologies to Dickens.)