Monday, September 08, 2008

A small voice.

A few months ago I wrote this post, which I ended with suggesting that the Sunday Star-Times short story competition, which is arguably New Zealand's highest-profile competition, should perhaps think about employing a different judge. I was worried that employing the same judge year after year would lead to writers tailoring their stories to one person's taste, and that the fact that those stories get published in the newspaper and exposed to so many readers might produce a uniformity in the types of stories that are considered excellent. I was worried that diversity might be at risk.

This year, Owen Marshall is no longer judging the competition; Stephanie Johnson is. I am delighted. No doubt she will have different ideas to Owen as to what constitutes good writing, and I for one welcome the change. Who knows why they changed, whether they had intended to have someone different all along, or whether Mr Marshall wasn't available this year, or whether the organisers had heard my small mumblings from cyber-space and it gave them some food for thought.

11 comments:

a cat of impossible colour said...

Yay, I definitely think this is a good thing.

You know, I actually think they should have a panel of writers to judge the submissions, rather than just one. Surely that's the best way to get a good and objective decision?

Anonymous said...

But is there any real difference, aside from gender, between Owen Marshall and Stephanie Johnson?

Rachael King said...

It's a fresh pair of eyes and that's the most important thing.

writer ready said...

I agree with the above as long as it is recognised that Owen Marshall would be able to substantiate the 'good wood from the bad' as it were. He is, disputably, the best short story writer in the land. As such I am sure he knows what he is doing....

writer ready said...

Racheal, are you saying that Mr Marshall doesn't have a fresh pair of eyes...

Rachael King said...

As I said in my previous post, it was nothing against Owen Marshall, who has done a fine job. But we all have our little pet hates when it comes to reading fiction, and one person's pet hate might be another's gold. I'm just looking for a bit of diversity.

Rachael King said...

Writer ready - not unless he's had an eye transplant that I didn't know about.

a cat of impossible colour said...

Writer ready - I think your use of the word 'disputably' in your first comment supports what Rachael is saying. It's all a matter of opinion, right? Owen Marshall is an exceptional writer and a very good judge, who would definitely be able to tell good writing from bad, but he brings his own set of tastes and prejudices to his judging. As would we all. And as would Stephanie. But at least it's a new set of tastes and prejudices. This will give people with different styles a chance.

Rachael King said...

Well said! That's exactly what I meant.

surfergirl said...

Rachael, can we take from this that you will be entering...???

Rachael King said...

Ha ha! No this isn't a case of sour grapes - I stopped writing short stories a long time ago to concentrate on novels. But who knows, maybe I'll dust off an old one and send it in.