Here Comes the Judge

I was asked to judge a national contest for book writing. I’ve helped with this contest before; I thought about the schedule in prior years and decided the judging wouldn’t take place until April. Sure, I said. I can do that.

Then I responded to a request to judge a scholarship contest. It was a cause I believed in, and it was still a few weeks away. I was sure I’d have time for it.

Then a friend emailed me to say that an high-school essay contest judge had backed out at the last minute; could I judge student essays? There would only be ten of them. Of course, I had to help her out. I’d have the entries in just a few days, leaving plenty of time to judge those before the next contest started.

So yes, I agreed to judge three different contests. And then I realized that I was wrong about the timing of the first contest, and it would happen sooner than I’d expected. That pushed the judging deadlines much closer together than I’d thought. And then those ten high-school essays ballooned into thirteen. And then I learned that I’d have to make time before the scholarship judging to work my way through an online training program before I could judge the entries.

But that’s OK, I told myself. I’m a fast reader; I can do this. So I jumped right in and judged those high-school essays. I picked my three top choices and passed them on to the next level. Then I downloaded the digital files for the three book entries and sped through reading them in a few days, submitting my rankings for first, second, and third place. Now I will find time in the next few days to do the scholarship contest training, so I can judge those applications next week.

Yes, I really can do this, I told myself.

And then today, the book contest director emailed to say she was in a bind and could I judge another contest category, with two book entries this time. She’s a friend, so of course I said yes. Maybe I should have refused, but I think I’ll really enjoy doing it. And this time, I won’t have to judge that category right away; the deadline isn’t until next month. I can do this.

Part of my brain is saying I’m an idiot and should learn to say no. But the truth is that these are all contests I’m happy to be involved with. I just wish they weren’t all happening at so close to the same time.

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