When the Wave Function Collapses

Published by Banzai in the blog Banzai's blog. Views: 95

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According to quantum physics (or at least, as far as my no doubt confused and flawed understanding of it goes), if it is not observed then an objected exists in every state that it is possible for it to exist in. Then, when it becomes observed, the “wave function” collapses, and it assumes one of those possible states. Now, aside from giving you another reason not to turn your back on anything particularly creepy looking, this is a pretty good metaphor for fiction submissions.

Now, I realise that strictly speaking that’s a load of bollocks. There’s still an observer, so the submission remains in one fixed quantum state, but shut up and let me make my point!

From the moment I, as a writer, press the send button on the email containing my story, addressed to a publisher, it is out of my hands. From my perspective, it is unobserved, and for the period of time until I receive a response, it is in a quantum state of both accepted and rejected. (For the record, I’ve only ever not received a response on two occasions, and one of those was due to Royal Mail ballsing up going on strike. The other had no excuse, and I won’t be submitting to them again).

Now I’m new to the world of published writing. So, as you might imagine, most times when the wave function collapses, the result is bad news. It’s disheartening at times, but each piece of feedback I get (and I’ve found that most editors, particularly with small press publishers, give at least a single line reason for rejecting a story) helps me improve a little, and gets me a little close to the kind of success I’m aiming for.

This morning, the wave function collapsed once again, and I awoke to two emails in my inbox. The first was a rejection. A disappointment, since I’m quite proud of that particular little story (about shop mannequins coming to life), but not altogether surprising. The second was that rarest and most sought after of things- an acceptance.

Yeah, I’m pretty excited about it, and it really did make my morning. It’s not often that quantum physics comes down in my favour. But this time I’ve come out on top, and “The Mystery of St. Mary’s Morgue” will be published in Silver Moon, Bloody Bullet: An Anthology of Werewolf Tails, from Pill Hill Press. I’m not sure exactly when it will be in print, but I’ll post the link in my Bibliography, and on my Twitter feed, when it is.

But my point in posting this is not to blow my own trumpet (well, okay it is, but it’s not just to blow my own trumpet) but rather to make a comment about rejections. They happen. Everyone gets them. Sometimes it’s because the story isn’t good enough- that might be due to the high quality of submissions in general, if it’s a professional/semi-pro market, or it might be because the story needs to be improved. Sometimes it’s simply because the story isn’t right for the anthology. The important thing is that rejection really is a step towards acceptance.

When the wave function collapses, as a writer, the thing to do is brush yourself off, read any feedback that’s given, see if you can improve your story, research what markets it’s best suited for, and send it on to the next publisher. If you carry out this process every time, then you’ll naturally improve. And if the result of the wave function collapse is a congratulations. Now go and write a new story.

Which is exactly what I’m going to do now.
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