Recently, one of my colleagues at work (my *day job*), who knew I was also a writer asked if I would serve as one of the judges in a writing contest for kids. Proceeds from the contest, as I understood it, were destined to help educate children in India living in some poverty.
I was really touched to be asked to do this, honored, and just a little bit freaked out. You see, I've never been asked to judge anything in my life, and certainly not the writing quality of kids from elementary to high school.
Sure, I review my own kids' writing homework. I supposedly have two talents for which I am expected to provide my services at home. When my son or daughter has some essay or report, the wife looks at me and says, "You're the writer. You look at it." The other skill I possess has to do with scooping ice cream, having worked at a Carvel ice cream shop in high school. All ice cream in this house must be scooped by me, although this is not my general idea.
So, there I am with a thick manila envelope chock full of essays about what somebody would do if they were president, or what they think of their parents, and so on. Rubric in hand, I set to work. How did they do? Well, kids are like adults, only younger. Some do a great job, and some mail it in. I can't help but remember the essay accomplished via one paragraph, somehow spanning three pages. Quite impressive, really.
Being a writer, and not a teacher, I really had to resist things like "Too many adverbs!" or "Watch the passive voice!" Fortunately, I simply had to grade them on a rubric, and in the end this was all for a good cause. There were some really intriguing ideas in those essays, especially the one about forcing parents to work much shorter weeks so they could be with their family, while still making beaucoup bucks. I'm ready for that.
This was great, though. And as a writer, if anyone asks you to do something like this, I highly recommend it. Now if I can just get my own kids to edit their own writing as well as some of these kids did.