Ah, it's that time of year that all teachers hate. My eyes especially hate it because I feel like I'm going cross-eyed marking grammar tests. Is that a comma or a semicolon? Is that comma inside or outside the quotation marks? Actually, the grammar tests are easy in comparison to the novels. We spend all this time, reading, assessing, thinking about what's down on the page and whether it's enough for the reader to create the scenery, whether the characters are alive on the page, whether the narrative is rising in tension and the writing compelling, how fresh and original it seems, whether there are POV violations or not, whether the dialogue is believable and what it adds -- myriad things to consider -- and craft our comments accordingly, and the student gets the paper back and focuses on the mark. The mark to me is the least important thing. But I know as a student I was the same. This mark will tell me whether he or she really likes it or not. And of course it doesn't necessarily -- especially if there are specific assignment criteria that haven't been met. But I guess that's part of the writing game as well as the student game. I had one friend who entered a short story in a big writing competition and said, "Oh, well, if it doesn't win anything I'll know it's a crap story and isn't any good." I was horrified and told him he must never think like that. And having done some judging I know that sometimes it's like comparing a good curry to chocolate: they both tast great but give you totally different experiences. But that's part of the fun of it all -- you just never know what's going to turn up in that assignment tray.
Oh, well, better get back to it!