Will someone, please, open this box and tell me, am I a writer or not?
I enjoy fiction that stimulates my knowledge and imagination. I like having strange words, ideas and concepts bouncing around in my head. The word “quantum” is one example. The Big Bang Theory and David Ignatious’s, The Quantum Spy, gave me some perspective on this scientific theory that defies all known logic.
The basic idea is quantum particles can exist in two different states at once. The go to model for explaining quantum mechanics is Schrodinger’s Cat. The cat is in a completely sealed box with a canister of toxic gas. Schrodinger purports the cat is both alive and dead until someone opens the box to see if the toxin has been released.
As an unpublished, unrecognized writer, I feel like the cat in Shrodinger's box. I can write all day, create hundreds of pages and dozens of manuscripts, but I’m both a writer and not a writer until someone observes, reads and responds to my work.
Therefore, even introverted writers like me need other writers and an audience – not to write, but to be a writer. If all my words and stories are found, widely disseminated and acclaimed after my death, then I’m a writer. It also means I spent my entire life in Schrodinger’s box, both alive and dead as a writer.
Words are meant to be shared. They exist solely for communication which by definition requires a minimum of one messenger and one recipient. That’s why I feel the need for someone to open the box and provide feedback.
While contemplating my status as writer and not writer, I remembered an episode of Star Trek, The Next Generation, which opens with Data monitoring the ship's scanner for communications or anomalies. He hears a faint voice, “Is anyone out there?”
Data cocks his head and responds, “Yes.”
This initiates the conflict for the show. Data violated the Prime Directive. The little girl he responded to is from a pre-space-travel planet. In order to avoid interference in the natural development of the planet and its culture, the Prime Directive forbids contact
But Data also discovered the child’s world is experiencing tectonic eruptions which will destroy all life. Of course, the crew of the Enterprise finds a way, with remote technology, to save her world without contaminating the aliens' natural progress.
“Is anyone out there?” popped into my mind as I contemplated my feelings of isolation and helplessness as a writer. I have joined groups and studied how-tos to build my skills and navigate the business of communicating my words through social media, agents and editors.
I still often feel like a child with only an antique radio in a world that is falling apart, trying to contact anyone with more advanced knowledge. Unfortunately, even though I have found help out there, it always seems to simply soar on by, over my head and out of touch.
Is there a prime directive blocking my path to acceptance into the futuristic world that can save me from my primitive box and inability to communicate my words before my time runs out?
I wondered, How many times did the little girl send out her desperate plea before it was heard, and she received a positive reply? She had obviously persevered until someone responded. So, I determined a new frequency and sent out my message again, “Is anyone out there?”
I went to my online writers’ association account, logged in and began searching for contact information. I wanted to reach out to local writers of poetry and children’s stories. I determined to send an email requesting assistance connecting with other local writers in my genre.
The only contact link I found was a send a message box on my personal account page. I opened it. It seemed promising. Strangely, there was no place to specify a recipient. I assumed the message would go to a general delivery box for the association.
I spent several minutes composing a heart-felt plea for help. In my mind, my writing life depended on this message. I proofed it twice and hit send. The answer I got was shocking.
A popup box immediately appeared. “Your message has been sent to Angie Raymond.”
Alone, at home, hovering over my computer, I shouted, “Oh, my God!” (I never say that.)
I slumped. “There is no one out there. I’m on my own,” I thought. If I weren’t so flummoxed, I’d have cried.
For a while, I continued in my quest for somewhere to send my message. I looked for a writing class I might attend but without success. I gave up and spent the rest of the day wondering and grousing about the inanity of having a website message box linked only to myself.
As I write this several days later, I believe the moral is, although I’m still in the sealed box, I’m putting words on paper, so I’m still alive. It’s just so difficult to feel like a writer without an audience. I know perseverance and patience are the keys. The process takes time, but my own self-doubt is a toxic canister, hence my quantum state.