Schrödinger's Email


I have an email from an agent sitting in my inbox.  It arrived sometime on Wednesday... I haven't read it yet. 

Right now, it's like Schrödinger's cat: it's neither an outright rejection nor an eager request to represent me. As long as I don't open it, it's a nebulous cloud of probability encompassing all possible answers.  I'm taking my lead from quantum physics and allowing myself to live in a space where the answer could still be whatever I want it to.

One week before this message arrived, I'd received another reply from an agent. It was a polite form rejection, which is not anything particularly special or catastrophic. In fact, it's just par for the course really. But each rejection temporarily strips my soul a little bare, shakes my confidence, and weakens my defenses for a time.

"Regrettably, I don’t feel sufficiently excited about the writing to take it on, but please remember that reactions to fiction are entirely subjective, so I do recommend that you try some other agents."

Of course, I know that agents are people too and they'll each have their own tastes that may or may not align with mine, but having someone you respect tell you that they aren't excited about something you're over-the-moon about is rattling, to say the least. It makes you question your objectivity and your sanity a little bit. And when that happens, I just need some time to reinforce my "armor" before I'm ready to put myself out there again.  

This latest (as-of-yet-unread) reply came too soon on the heels of that last rejection, and I needed to let myself regroup before opening it. So I spent the last few evenings deliberately procrastinating: doing my budget, geeking out with SpaceTime on YouTube, binge-watching Supernatural on Netflix, taking my daughter to see Captain America: Civil War (sooooooo good, by the way), and finally writing this blog.  

I have high hopes for this particular reply so the stakes feel a bit higher with it. It's from an agent that committed to providing a personalized response from a special querying session run in advance of the #DVpit twitter event. I'm positioning myself to expect a rejection. It's not just a protection mechanism or pessimism on my part, the submission I sent to this agent was very similar to what I had sent to the previous agent and I don't expect much difference in their reactions to it. But I am hopeful that this letter will give me some specifics about what I can do to make things better for any future submissions. So, in that respect, this particular email has the potential to be invaluable to me (or utterly soul-crushing).

Pointers on Editing ScenesA few nights ago, the thought occurred to me that my novel might simply be opening too early in the plotline, that if the narrative came in just a little further into the mix of things then that might be more impactful. That same thought was reinforced by a post I saw on Facebook the next day (at left).

So if the comment comes back that my first ten pages aren't as attention-grabbing as they need to be then at least I have a concrete strategy to address this (and frankly, if I'm even considering that this change might possibly be required, then I know that it mostly likely is).  *sigh* 

Going into this email with a plan for my next steps already in mind makes me feel a bit more pro-active and in control in terms of dealing with whatever she says. Of course, that assumes that her criticism isn't too harsh and lines up with what I'm thinking...

As Emily Dickenson wrote, "I dwell in possibility." That sounds more positive than "I'm avoiding disappointment." I like her phrasing better.  

Either way, I think I'm finally ready to open that email now.  

I dwell in possibility -Emily Dickenson



two Responses to "Schrödinger's Email"

  1. Eric Thomson
    Eric Thomson on 10-05-’16 19:36


  2. A. Lee Ripley
    A. Lee Ripley on 11-05-’16 18:08

    I’ll make a follow-on post with the details. But suffice it to say that I got it right (which is somewhat of a relief… if I’d been completely off the mark in my guess then I think I would have taken up the fetal position under the table for a few hours). :)

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