Forestry Competition: Judge’s Report


Judge’s Report

Reading the remarkable range and variety of entries, I was encouragingly reminded that there are still those, in an increasingly utilitarian world, who are willing to put time, effort and creative flair into producing in written form unique gems of thought and expression. I sincerely thank the organizers and the entrants for allowing me the opportunity of this refreshing realisation.

What, in this competition, made the successful entries? a) Maintaining focus on the competition theme. b) Being bold enough to experiment with new words and new combinations of words. c) Having a clear plan of action, followed through to completion of the essay. d) Being brave enough to revise, cut and re-phrase until each sentence says exactly what the writer intended. e) Taking the trouble to carry out careful final editing before presentation.

And what factors led to a lack of success? a) Predictability of topic and expression. b) A lack of careful preparation and planning. c) An unexciting and pedestrian use of words. d) Failure to grab and hold the reader’s attention. e) A noticeable lack of self-editing.

But to those whose entries have not this time been successful: don’t give up! There is no real writer who does not have a box full of work that did not find acceptance. That is part of our discipline; part of our trade. The trick is to use those boxes as steps up to better performance, higher goals. That’s what writing is all about: never giving up; keeping on in spite of setbacks.

One of the most interesting features of many entries was the willingness of writers to experiment with new words and phrases, using language creatively to paint complex pictures, or express deep emotions; having the confidence to venture beyond the traditional confines of classroom English. Words are, after all, our common tools in seeking to express and explain our profoundest thoughts and deepest feelings. And, as with any tool, only repeated use and practice can lead to the development of complex skills and the production of intricate creations. And at the root of all this lies our search for die juiste woord, the mot juste, the precise phrase that will convey exactly what we wish to say on the subject under consideration.

In conclusion, I must thank and congratulate all those who have put time and effort into organizing this most valuable instrument for stimulating and encouraging the creative use of language at a time when there are many influences seeking to ‘dumb it down’. Long may your work continue!

Robin Lamplough                                                           14 September 2015