Friday Fable: The Once-Published Writers and the Un-Published Writers
Posted on November 30, 2013
by Catherine Austen
You may know the old story of The Hares and the Frogs:
Once there were three hares who were always stressed out by all the predators in the fields. If it wasn’t a fox in the grass, it was an eagle overhead. Hare life was an eternal grind of freezing and fleeing, with the odd frolic in between.
It wasn’t just being low on the food chain that depressed the hares. It was knowing that there were thousands more just like them–that’s what really ate away at their confidence. They were tasty little nobodies in a world of sharp-toothed somebodies. Every moment of every day, some poor hare was having his guts torn out. One day their turn would come, and nobody would even care.
“I can’t take it anymore,” the first hare cried.
“We’re the most pathetic creatures on earth,” the second hare agreed.
“We should put ourselves out of our misery,” the third hare declared. And off the three hopped, to throw themselves into the lake.
But when they got there, they found three frogs on the shore, half-submerged and hyper-alert. The frogs felt the ground thump at the hares’ approach. It scared them out of their wits. The first frog dove into deep water. The second frog hopped onto a far-off log. The third frog sunk into the shallows, too scared to move, and stared up at the hares in awe and terror.
“Holy smokes,” said the first hare. “Those little green dudes are more miserable than we are.”
“They have enemies on land, in the air, and in the water,” the second hare agreed. “They must be stressed out 24/7.”
“They don’t ever get to frolic,” the third hare said. “Compared to them, our lives are easy.”
And the hares no longer felt like doing themselves in. They hopped over to the strawberry patch and frolicked for a couple of minutes, until a jogger came by with her Rottweiler. “Could be worse,” they all thought as they ran for their lives.
And the moral is: There is surely someone worse off than you, so don’t feel so sorry for yourself.
That is a good old tale, but if Aesop were a modern slave to the written word, he might have called his fable, The Once-Published Writers and the Un-published Writers:
Once there were three writers who hadn’t published anything for years. They’d all been working for half a decade on what each inwardly called his masterpiece, but none was yet finished. The writers liked their work, whenever they got around to it, but they were terribly stressed out whenever they passed a bookstore. Their old titles were never in stock and the shelves were always lined with books by best-selling authors who churned out something new every season. At those moments, the once-published writers’ lives felt like an eternal grind of revisions and writers’ block, with the odd paid reading in between.
It wasn’t just being unknown that bothered the writers. It was knowing that there were thousands more just like them–that’s what really ate away at their confidence. They were quiet little nobodies in a world full of breakaway somebodies. Every moment of every day, some poor writer was having his copyright reverted and his book going out of print. One day their turn would come, and nobody would even care.
“I can’t take it anymore,” the first writer cried.
“We’re the most pathetic creatures on earth,” the second writer agreed.
“We should put ourselves out of our misery,” the third writer declared. And off the three hopped, to throw their unfinished masterpieces in the fire at their favourite cafe.
But when they got there, they found three unpublished writers at the fireside table, up to their eyeballs in caffeine. The unpublished writers heard the words “editor,” “contract,” and “Canada Council grant” in the once-published writers’ conversation. It impressed them out of their wits. The first unpublished writer said, “Let me buy you a coffee and pick your brain.” The second unpublished writer said, “Where can I buy your book?” The third unpublished writer stared up in awe and said, “Would you have a look at my novel?”
The once-published writers no longer felt like giving up. They drank free coffee, got a boost of confidence, dredged up some advice, and went home feeling rather accomplished. They picked up their mail at the door: the first received a fan letter; the second found a royalty check for $122.08, and the third opened a pretty card scribbled in her editor’s handwriting: “Are you getting close to done yet?“
“Could be worse,” they all thought as they returned to their masterpieces.
And the moral is: Just get back to work.
And that’s my Friday Fable for today. (And yeah, it’s Saturday. I meant to post this last night but, well, did you notice the name of the blog? Yup.)
I was lazy this post and borrowed all the photos from FreeDigitalPhotos.net. The rabbit is by artemisphoto; the tree frog is by BJWOK; the books are by Gualberto107; the coffee is by Keerati; and the typewriter is by thaikrit.
Love any blogs about persistent writing. Keep up the good work. I will, too.
Thanks! Motivation sometimes wanes, but always returns eventually.
I’ve just come off a book-chain site and have been shaking my head at… Amish romance? This is a genre now? I think I’m going to try my hand at comic erotica — and they said it couldn’t be done. No, wait: they said it shouldn’t be done.
So, thanks for dragging me out of despair. It could, indeed, be worse.
I think we need more comic erotica in this world. (Comic as in humour, right? Not comic book? I think there’s plenty of comic book erotica already. Not that I’d dare hold you back.)
Definitely humorous erotica. I really wonder if it can be done (not that I’m about to try…) Who said something about sex being the most fun you can have without smiling? Woody Allen, I think.