Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Rationality - Overrated?

Some recent "commentary" got me thinking about a couple of things. One, what a tragedy it must be to be born humor- and irony-challenged. Two, how rationality and irrationality can inhabit the same mind at the same time.

Fundamentally, I'm a very rational person. Scored a perfect 800 on the analytical part of the GRE. Spent many years working for a Very Important Organization, regularly being promoted to positions of greater responsibility, etc. Always balance the checkbook. That sort of thing.

So of course the rational part of me, which is usually dominant, knows that finding a literary agent is likely to be a long slog that may, in the end, prove futile. But something in the process brings out the irrational side of me -- which is, I think, closely connected to the creative side. How can you write fiction, after all, if part of you is not just a bit irrational?

So, the impatience with not hearing back from agents sooner. The frustration with the query system (even though the rational side of me already acknowledged how, from the agent's perspective, it makes perfect sense). I think the immediacy of e-mail contributes to this irrational take on things. We send our query -- the lorry-load of our creativity, aspirations, fears -- off into cyberspace and it's delivered in a nanosecond, and then...and then...and then... In contrast, we expect snail mail to take time.

There were times when I worked for the VIO that I labored long and hard on a thoughtful, analytical Very Important Paper, sent it up the chain of command, and then...and then...and then...

The difference was that I had worked long enough for the VIO to know the multiple layers of black holes that existed within it into which my paper might well have disappeared. While I know on an intellectual level that the process of seeking an agent is lengthy and full of its own black holes, I haven't experienced it long enough yet to prevent the irrational part of me from hoping that I might get some kind of real answer to my aspirations before my kids are in college.

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