📚 Story of the Week #15
I wrote my first book aged four.
It sits in the drawer of broken dreams at home, dusted with time, its potential wasted. I wondered if things could have been different, the stars aligning a few degrees to the left, and unlocking a world where lucky readers would care for my first book, dog-ear the pages, carry it on their commutes.
I imagined what an online review might say:
WHAT IS THIS!?
I’ve been refunded, which is the only consolation, otherwise this would have been my first zero-star review. The book is a lie. The description says, 'warrior princess overcoming the feudal lords in shogunate Japan'. All I got was this (see pictures attached).
It’s just a load of paper stapled together to look like a book. The front cover is a pencil sketch of a person that looks like they’ve been punched with a potato masher, and the story...
Obviously words couldn’t describe the story, because the author didn’t use any. They’ve just scribbled wiggly lines on every page – as if that counts!
Unimpressed, as is my book group.
When we want to start something, emulating those we respect is a great strategy. Finding our feet, we can then start adding our own flare to the task.
At four, I‘d committed the cardinal sin of emulation: mistaking the signs of success for the substance, which is somewhat fair because I didn’t know what the alphabet was yet.
Peacocks have bright feathers to impress peahens. Great fortresses have well-tended lawns to flaunt their power.
These are all signs of success, not recipes for success. A peacock painting its feathers won’t make it a good mate, and a Lord won’t become powerful by starving his people to plant grass instead of wheat.
Develop your eyes to look past the signs, and see what’s left. Is that noisy president hollow inside? Is that humble supermarket clerk concealing a treasure chest of wisdom on the art of living?
P.S. Signalling theory was the inspiration for this story, and will leave you thinking about all the signals you’re sending to those around you – knowingly or not.