I haven't been posting these last few weeks because I've been assigned the role of first-round judge in a literary competition. I've spent my evenings reading through manuscripts of varying literary quality. Some were downright crappy, some were overly-ambitious or pointless, others were just plain dull as dirt. One manuscript has finally emerged however, as a clear favorite to send to the second round of judging.
The experience has been an odd one. I was happy at the start when I could confidently eliminate a novel after reading only one chapter. Then I dug a story out that was beautifully written, but just too similar to a memoir I read last year. At this point, I started dreading equally, on the one hand, having nothing from my batch to send on, and on the other, finding a gem that would require me to write a competent defense of its merits.
The gem was found and the defense is written. I feel really good about my choice and am looking forward to seeing how far it goes toward the prize.