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Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Queries, Validation and Schrodinger's Cat

Currently reading - Soulless by Gail Carriger

I've been on a roll with the concept of validation this week.

Sunday, we talked about Pat and the Golden Heart, where an award only validates a certain level has been achieved but does not guarantee success down the road.

Yesterday, the writer I mentioned was seeking validation for the advice an attorney gave her young relative. Granted, she went about it incorrectly.

Today, we going to talk about queries, and why writers get so upset when they don't get an answer from an agent.

The request for a partial or a full creates its own sense of validation. "My story is good enough for someone in the publishing industry to read it!"

Even if the writer receives a rejection, his/her work has been acknowledged as existing.

However, when no answer is received, writers have this tendency to turn into a state of quantum superposition. For those without a physics background, quantum superposition postulates that a subatomic particle (in our case, a query) exists in all states (both accepted and rejected) until the moment of definite measurement (the opening of the e-mail or snail mail), at which point the subatomic particle falls into a definite state.

The most famous example of this quantum superposition theory is Schrodinger's cat, where the poor kitty could be both alive and dead until the moment the experimenter opened the special box the cat was in. Then the cat would either alive or dead.

(NOTE: Before the ASPCA or the Humane Society gets their panties in a twist, this is thought experiment. Erwin Schrodinger exchanged a series of letters with Albert Einstein over a 1935 paper Einstein co-wrote on the theory of quantum superpositions. No cats were harmed by either physicist to the best of my knowledge.)

Now, quantum physics is a fun subject for science geeks (or if you're really, really drunk), but if you try to apply it to the querying process you're going to drive yourself bonkers.

That's not to say don't resend a query if you reasonably believe your query has been misdirected. Goddess knows, several of mine have been deposited in spam filters even though I followed the agent's website to the letter.

But stop opening the box praying that any old cat's alive. You want the right cat to come out of your box.

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