In this parable, you learn what happens when you start wanting visibility and fame, instead of sticking with what you need.
Tripping along the sun-dappled laneway, heading into Pixie territory, was a lovely-looking young woman with long, rippling, dark hair. She was excited about everything.
So she ought to be excited! The laneway was filled with stalls, and she had a little bit of money in her pocket.
The young woman drank in everything greedily. She’d been barely five paces past the entrance to the seductive fair before she realised how many of these things she wanted.
Each stall became more enticing than the last.
Unable to hold herself back any longer, she rushed over to a stand filled with little shining lights. As she approached the stall, the lights seemed to gravitate towards her, to shine and sparkle, lighting up her shining eyes and reflecting off her teeth as she laughed. She was wanting one so badly; and the charming, beautiful woman behind the staff was full of compliments about how these lights were so good for her, and she’d never find anything like them again.
The young woman delightedly handed over half of her money, and as she walked on, the lights surrounded her, bringing her to the attention of everyone whom she went past.
Before long, she was yearning for more of the beautiful things that seemed to whisper to her from the sides of the bustling lane way.
She saw, ahead of her, a large sign above a stall. It had no words, but it had a painting of what looked like Aristotle holding forth to a rapt crowd.
The young woman pushed people out of her way in her eagerness to get to the stall. It was filled with boxes. They looked like unassuming little boxes, and each one had the word soap stamped on them.
Frowning in confusion, the woman picked up one of the boxes. Instantly it transformed into a sparkling pink album, filled with photographs of her in influential positions, in the media, talking to people of all creeds and kinds.
The lights bobbing around her brought her to the attention of the stall-holder, a white-haired old man who spoke to her in dulcet tones about how perfectly suited she was for this product, how it would change her life, how she would finally be at the centre of attention and in a way that undisputably gave her the power she’d always craved, ever since she was a child.
She realised that she didn’t have enough money for it, but she desperately wanted it. She told the old man. After speaking with her, she handed over not just her wallet, but also her golden watch, her necklace, and one of her rings.
The woman was entranced. The lights bobbing around her made the album sparkle. It put stars in her eyes.
Then she came to the stall that was staffed by some beautiful, gossamer, winged creatures. They were selling little parcels, wrapped up perfectly with beautiful pieces of ribbon. Entrancing music was playing somewhere in the back, and two of these entrancing creatures were dancing merrily.
As the young woman approached, one of the creatures nudged one of the others. They saw a young woman with a little silver ball tied to her hair, carrying a roughly hewn box with the word soap stamped on the side.
Looking around at the parcels, the young woman asked to see what was inside one.
The silky being at the front explained that these parcels would make her meaningful to her audience.
You could see the excitement ripple over her skin. She wanted one. When the woman was asked for the money, she had to admit that she didn’t have any.
She explained how things had been tight lately, that she’d had to spend money on these little bobbing lights that brought people’s attention to her; that she absolutely had to have this soapbox that the old man had promised her would be amazing for her, and that it had cleaned her out.
All she had left was one little ring, and she’d be good for the rest.
The pretty little creature, unable to resist the finery, grudgingly agreed, but insisted on payment terms for the remainder.
Ecstatic, the woman agreed. She signed the presented scroll with a flourish, and danced away, without even reading the detail.
Then, the young woman, convinced she had what she needed to make her visible, connected, influential, and above all understood, tripped away happily.
She left the fair in the laneway.
She went back to her home. She put the silver bauble on her dresser, and her now somehow unimportant-seeming, soapbox under her bed. And she put the parcel from the pretty little creature in a drawer, and tried not to look at it. She knew she’d never be able to pay them back.
The gossamer-winged creatures, she knew, were unforgiving.
She not only had no money and no jewellery with which to bargain. She had a debt and no way to put food on the table.
What was the solution?
The solution was to stop way before she even got to the market.
Here’s the gross truth about publishing and content:
If you can’t afford it, you don’t need it. You’re wanting it, but you don’t need it.
If you can’t afford it, you have to put all of your effort into selling. All the content in the world won’t help you do that. Focus down where it counts.
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