Pat Dilloway posted a query on his blog the other day, and asked us to weigh in on whether he was crazy or not in pointing out its flaws. For what it's worth, I agreed with what he said. But it started me thinking about the weird way in which some "things" in our society (and world at large) get support and some just don't. It's like trying to figure out why some things go viral and some things don't. There doesn't seem to be any rhyme or reason. And because of this, it seems like a colossal waste of time to even bother giving advice on things that have to do with writing as everyone has a different opinion on how and why it should be done.

My point in the comment I posted on Pat's post was that the query probably is a terrible query unless for some reason it has support. If (for example) it does have a freakish amount of support, then it probably makes it an excellent query because it has support from lots of people who believe in it. Weird, right? The fact is, you can say that about almost anything. For example, a movie can be can break all the rules of dialogue and plot and everything else...but if it has support, it can be a smashing success. That's just the way things are. But why?

I've thought about this for a couple of days now, and I think it boils down to the fact that industries in a democratic society lack a centralized authority. That's pretty much it. There's no one person that says "this is right" or "this is wrong." Instead, what you have are industries vying for your economic vote in the form of dollars. But everyone is not on the same page, and they never have been. If one thing ends up getting a lot of economic votes, it might be easy to say "it is because they did this right" or "they're just brilliant," but I don't think that's the case. However, I'm not sure if I can name the answer myself. I've seen many things that I thought were stupid achieve astounding success. It could be as simple as appealing to a person's narcissism. In other words, this thing is about me so therefore I support it, and I don't support that other thing because it isn't about me.

We live in strange, strange times. People get their "facts" from different news sources. People who have no scientific background claim to know more than scientists who've devoted their lives to studying just one thing. There are religious exemptions for everything. There are people who have entire careers destroyed by accusations of crime and people who are bulletproof to the exact same accusations. The difference all seems to be driven by support. Having "support" seems to be the goose that lay the golden egg. You can be wrong infinity x 10, and it doesn't matter if the "wrongness" is supported by a wide number of people.

I can't explain it, and it baffles me so much that I've actually stopped correcting things done by other people when I know them to be wrong. For all I know, the wrongness of something may have support. To clarify, it doesn't have support from me, but I am a drop in the ocean. I have no idea anymore what is wrong to everyone else.

To sum this post up, I think that getting support from other people is the single most important thing in just about any endeavor, and that includes whether or not the endeavor is actually any good. If you can get a bunch of suckers to buy into something, then the endeavor doesn't have to be good at all. It can be extraordinarily bad. I think P.T. Barnum once said, "There's a sucker born every minute." It may sound absurd, but the endeavor itself doesn't even actually need to be real as long as the support for it is.

Maybe (as far as the human race is concerned) the only thing that ever mattered was having support for ideas, because ideas that don't have support seem to have a special place in Hell where they go to die. If that ends up being true, then our entire lives are spent in finding support from others for all the things in our lives.

How the heck did we get to this point? Was it lack of accountability? Was it lack of a central authority? Did we become spoiled for choice?

I have no answers, other than to point out, this is what I see happening in our world today. So to take this whole thing full circle to all the writers out there that might be reading this, I say go ahead and publish everything you write. Get it out there. Send out your excellent queries and your terrible queries with both fists full. I have no idea what if anything you do will get support, nor if its even repeatable. All I know is this: some people will get it and others won't.

Post a Comment