Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Chatty Cathy, Contests, and Critique (Oh, My!)

It took a while, but I finally got a Chatty Cathy doll.

Now, you're probably thinking that a girl named Cathy would of course have a Chatty Cathy. You'd be wrong. You're probably also thinking that I moved on past that whole Chatty Cathy deficit in my life. Wrong again. There has always been a Chatty Cathy hole in my life.

But no more! Now, Chatty Cathy sits (technically, CC can't sit. She can only stand.) on my desk, keeping me company as I type away. And if I pull the little string behind her head, she says clever things, like "I'm hungry!" or "I love you."

Sigh. I love you, too, Chatty Cathy. And maybe it's my imagination, but I think my writing's improved. Especially the dialogue. So a big thank you to my friend, Donna at Donna's Book Pub. She sent CC my way as a thank you for being a judge for the Saturday Writers chapter of the Missouri Writer's Guild Flash Fiction contest.

I love flash, and reading the entries was as much fun as pulling Chatty Cathy's string. Judging the entries was not as much fun, because of course, there were more than a few winning writers and it was difficult to choose the top flash pieces.

Still, I'd judge again (and not just because I may get another swell perk out of the deal). Judging those flash entries made me think critically about the elements of flash, what worked in a piece and why another piece of flash didn't quite work as well. And thoughtful critique makes Cathy a better writer.

So if you're asked to be a judge for a writing contest, sey yes! It's not just about giving something back; it's also about improving critique skills and ultimately, your own writing. And now, let's pull the string and see what Chatty Cathy has to say to brilliantly wrap up this post:

"I'm sleepy."

Um, I guess even the coolest doll ever can have an off day. (I still love you, Chatty Cathy.)