You might know the old slave’s tale, “The Milkmaid”:
A girl was on her way to market carrying a jug of milk on her head. As she walked, she began to daydream about the money the milk would bring her.
“With the money I make from the milk, I’ll buy a basket of eggs,” she thought. “The eggs will hatch into hens. I’ll fatten up the hens and sell them for a piglet. When the piglet grows big and fat, I’ll sell it for a calf. I’ll let the calf browse the fields before I sell it. With all the money I get for the cow, I’ll buy a beautiful dress to wear into town. All the boys will stare at me and I’ll toss my head haughtily.” With that thought, she tossed her head, and the jug of milk fell to the ground and broke.
“Goodbye milk, goodbye eggs, goodbye hens, goodbye pig, goodbye calf, goodbye love,” the milkmaid thought sadly to herself.
And the moral is: Don’t count your chickens before they hatch.
That’s a good old tale. But if Aesop were a modern slave to the written word, he might have called his fable “The Would-be Writer”:
A writer went out walking, trying to generate ideas for her next book, when a fallen tree caught her eye. “I should write a story about some new virus that affects trees and makes them all fall down,” she thought.
“I could sell the story to a speculative fiction magazine. The story would be so popular it would get included in an anthology of the year’s best science fiction. An agent would read the anthology and offer to represent me. The agent would win me a lucrative contract for a three-book deal based on my story. The trilogy would be such a success, I’d sell the film rights for five million dollars. My favourite actor would be cast as the lead. I’d be invited to the film shoot and I’d meet him and we’d fall in love.” With that thought, the writer walked into the nearest Blockbuster and rented two movies starring her favourite actor. She wasted her entire evening in front of the television instead of writing her book.
“Goodbye story, goodbye anthology, goodbye agent, goodbye novels, goodbye film rights, goodbye love,” the writer thought sadly when she dragged her lazy butt to bed.
And the moral is: Don’t count your royalties before publication.
And that’s my first Friday Fable.