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The below story is not real. It is a work of fiction. And no, it's not based on my own experience. Any courses or writing groups I've been a part of bear no resemblance to those in the story. 

F - Fable

Copyright Alison Clifford 2023

‘fable—n. Fiction, falsehood, romance, fabrication, parable, apologue, fantasy, allegory, untruth, novel, invention.’ Roget’s Thesaurus, 1990, Ottenheimer Publishers Inc.


Once upon a time, there was a woman who wrote a book. She had always wanted to write. Writing lived inside her, rolling and tumbling, surging and ebbing, until one day it found a tiny way out. One word at a time, she poured out her imaginings, building a story word by word. Until she reached the end. Then she read over what she had written. And it was awful.

But she could see the beauty in what she had created. It lived in her. The characters meant something. The story filled her soul. She had to find a way to make it perfect.

Well, we all know how that went. There is no such thing as perfect. And yet she believed. She had to share her story with the world.

The woman searched for the answer, for the way to let the beauty shine from her story. The more she read and searched, the more her hope dimmed. There was so much information, so much advice, so many ways to bring about the perfection she craved. A whilst the woman was a dreamer, she was also a cynic. Being sceptical would not get her far, though. One day, she would have to trust someone to help her bring her story’s beauty out.

Then she lost hope. She read her story again and there was a little less magic in it now. The ugliness overrode the beauty she saw in her story. Was there any way to let it shine, or had she been fooling herself?

She had to try.

Her research had led her to a website promising to help. A good person, a skilled and kind person would read her story, her precious, precious story. They would find the magic and show her the way.

The woman sent her story to the person. She paid the fee. The amount alone convinced her she was doing the right thing. Her story was in trusted, talented hands. It would be okay.

A week later, she got an email back from the person. It told her the person had read her story. The issues with it were big. Too many to fix for the original fee. But here was a link to a course that would train the woman to write better. Then she could take the manuscript—with some notes the person had made about it—and make the story truly great.

The woman shed a tear. She had known her story had been shrouded in ugliness. Then she smiled, because the trusted person had shown her the way to enlightenment. She would do the course and then make her story shine in its beauty. The course had great reviews. With the trusted person running it, how could it not? She handed over more money and put her story aside. She promised the story she would make it perfect.


Once she had done the course.

The woman studied and practised what she was taught. Then the course told her she must join a writers group. It even gave her the group to join. She was nervous. They would share writing and critique it. This is what she wanted, right? The chance to talk about writing with other writers and receive constructive criticism. So she signed up and went to a meeting, and handed over a short piece she had worked on for the course.

Each of the other writers shared their critiques. They told her she still needed to learn. They told her how she what she must do to make her short piece good. She wrote it all down. She read their stories, some good and some bad. The woman found something nice to say about each piece. Who was she to give negative feedback when her own work was so flawed? The meeting ended, and she went home and cried. How would she ever make her story shine when she couldn’t write? She looked at her original story and dried her tears. It was a good story. She just had to bring the beauty out. She could do this.

The course finished. The woman had managed to get some positive feedback from some writers in her group. She felt perhaps she could make her story shine.

Then the course tutor emailed her. The woman’s writing had improved and the tutor could see potential in her writing. But it would be best if the woman took the advanced course. To make her writing even better. The woman looked at her bank account and hesitated. Of course she wanted to improve her writing, but was this the best option? The only option? The dreamer slid back and the cynic stepped up. Maybe she should try something different. Get another opinion. But from where?

Maybe she should go over her story now and submit it to a publisher and see what they said. What did she have to lose?

Pride, she found out. The publisher was kind and gave her some advice. Things to work on. The woman looked at the advance course information and sighed. Then she did what she’d heard writers do—she poured herself a glass of wine. And then another. The woman sat at her computer and searched for someone else who might help her. She was ready to take a chance, so long as it wasn’t too expensive.

She found that chance after the fourth glass of wine. The dreamer pushed the cynic out of the way and sent her manuscript before she changed her mind.

It was weeks before she had an answer. The chance returned the story, with good feedback and lots of things to correct. And with lots of tips and other helpful ideas.

The woman cried again. Tears of joy. She worked hard on her story. She made it shine; she brought out the beauty.

And she gave a free copy of her bestseller to each of her past writing group members, and a signed copy to her tutor.

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