I was honored to be one of the second-round judges for the humor category of the 2020 Erma Bombeck Writers' Workshop Writing Competition alongside funny folks Nancy LaFever, Bill Scheft, and Jerry Zezima.
When organizer Debe Tashjian Dockins invited me to be a judge, her pitch was that I could read the essays at any time, at home in my pajamas, with My Cat. Clearly, Sir, received the same email and curled up in my lap when I began reading. Easy.
What was tougher, was figuring out the right reading-to-petting ratio.
Mere human that I am, I didn’t always get it right. I’d get caught up reading and not petting, and Sir would shift his position just enough to give me withering feline side-eye. Then I’d be reading and absent-mindedly petting and he’d get toothy.
Apparently, he likes focused petting. I like not being bitten. I am of the opinion that a simple “meow” would suffice to communicate his displeasure but we’re working it out.
It’s not easy submitting your work to be judged. The writers who made it to the second round of the contest we’re quite good. Naturally, some folks need a little work (don’t we all) and some folks just really nailed it. I don’t envy the task of the finalist judge; a task I had several years ago, so I know how difficult it is. Good luck and continued success to everyone who wrote and had the courage to submit. As Erma would say, keep writing.