500 Word Fairytales: The Brave Little Tailor

Once upon a time…

A tailor grew tired of the long hours sewing other people’s clothes. He tried to motivate himself by slathering a thick slice of fresh bread with strawberry jam: a reward for finishing his work.

The tailor – let’s name him Todd – worked diligently, but his treat attracted some greedy flies.

Finally, no fewer than nine flies were circling. Todd grabbed a scrap of fabric and lashed out at the flies.

“Woah! Seven in one blow. That must be some kind of record!”

Todd tailored that fabric into a belt. He embroidered his achievement: ‘SEVEN IN ONE BLOW.’ He tied the belt around his waist and felt very mighty indeed. So, Todd ate his snack, packed up some cheese, and hit the road to seek his fortune.

Along the way, a bird tried to steal Todd’s cheese. Ever dexterous, Todd caught the bird and slipped it in his pocket.

Soon after, Todd met a giant.

“Seven in one blow?” Thought the giant. “This man has killed seven people in one strike! I must prove that I am mightier.”

The giant challenged Todd to wring water from a rock. Tricky Todd squeezed his cheese instead, which emitted a thin stream of milk.

“Even better than water,” Todd taunted.

Next, the giant challenged Todd to throw a stone.

“I can throw further than you,” said Todd, and he tossed the bird, which quickly flew out of sight. The giant admitted defeat again.

“I can carry this huge tree a mile,” boasted the giant.

“That’s nothing,” replied Todd. “Together, let’s carry this tree to the next kingdom. I’ll carry all the branches.”

The giant got to work and Todd rested on the boughs. When they reached the next kingdom, the giant dropped the trunk and panted. Todd hopped off and went to the giant. The giant saw that the man hadn’t broken a sweat and ran away ashamed.

Todd shrugged. He figured that now he had bested a giant, he would try to win a princess. Todd made his way to the king and asked to marry his only daughter.

“Uh…who are you? Do you have any references?” The king was confused.

“I’m Todd the Adventurer! I’ve bested a giant and killed seven in one blow. I’m perfect for the position of heir to your throne!”

The king figured he might as well give this adventurer a test–either he’d pass or he’d die trying.

“If you rid my kingdom of the two ogres in the forest, I’ll let you marry my daughter. I guess.”

So the brave little tailor got to work. He pestered the ogres into killing each other, and returned to the king unscathed.

Impressed, the king let Todd marry the princess. In time, Todd inherited the throne. He was a wise and just ruler, always looking out for the little entrepreneurs in his kingdom.

That’s the story of the world’s first resume.

The end.

500 word fairytale: the brave little tailor

Fighting Imposter Syndrome With The Princess and the Pea

Today’s post is about the guilt-inducing, crippling phenomenon called imposter syndrome. Writers seem especially vulnerable to this, from Maya Angelou to Neil Gaiman to yours truly. Granted, the only award I’ve won for writing was from my university newspaper–but that’s just the point. Awards, publications, accolades, and adoration don’t make you a “real writer”: only writing makes you a real writer.

“What’s talent but the ability to get away with something?”

Tennessee Williams

Imposter syndrome goes by many names, but I’m not going to dissect the psychology of that today. It’s been done! I’m here to tell you what fairytales (specifically, The Princess and the Pea) can teach you about overcoming this common writing challenge.

The main conflict in the story is the princess’s redundant call to confirm she is a “real princess.” The princess proves this by:

  1. Being a princess by birthright
  2. Announcing herself as a princess at the door of a neighboring castle
  3. Looking like and acting like a princess, probably (despite being soaked by the rain)
  4. Passing a test that proves she is a princess by being physically harmed by a lowly pea
  5. Marrying a prince and surpassing her princess status to queen (perhaps analogous to graduating from being a writer to an author)

Allow me to speak plainly: if you are putting the words from your head on a document or paper, you are a writer. You can aspire to be a published author, or a novelist, or a hundred ways to define success, but you already are a writer. That is all the proof you really need for yourself or anyone else.

Another reminder for you: it may have already been said, but it hasn’t been said by you. You have your own words, perspective, and voice. 

Write earnestly.

Write honestly.

Write like you have nothing to prove.

When you feel like an imposter, look at how much you’ve written. Even if you don’t think you’ve written anything worthwhile, it’s all part of your progress and identity as a writer. Like the princess, it’s something you were all along. Now go crush some peas goals.

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Writing Advice: Fighting Imposter Syndrome With The Princess and the Pea

500 Word Fairytales: The Princess and the Pea

Once upon a time…

A beautiful princess went for a walk and got caught in an unexpected storm. With a wistful thought of home, her carriage, and her favorite red umbrella, the princess got swept away by the deluge. 

When the water finally settled, she found herself in an unfamiliar place. In the flashes of lighting, she saw a castle with tall towers and the flickering light of a roaring fire. With a sigh, the princess emptied water from her slippers, squeezed droplets from her limp hair, and squelched over to the cobblestone path.

The bedraggled princess sloshed her way through the rain to the castle door. Her knock was muffled by the heavy door; however, after a minute, the queen herself answered.

“Go away,” she told the sodden visitor. “We aren’t interested in whatever you’re selling.”

“Wait!” The desperate princess fell to her knees. “I’m cold and I’m wet and I’ve lost my crown. Please let me stay the night here! I’m a princess.”

The queen appraised the women. Could it be true? Despite the dripping clothes and ratty tendrils of hair, there was an air of royalty about her. Besides, the bookish prince needed to marry a princess: a real princess. There was only one way to know for sure if this was the real deal or an imposter.

“Right this way,” said the queen.

While the princess dried off in front of the fire, the queen ordered a room to be prepared with 20 mattresses and 20 feather beds, stacked up in one of the towers. Beneath this fluffy monstrosity of a bed, the queen placed a single pea. 

The damp princess had to climb a ladder to reach the top, no doubt wondering what kind of strange people would make a bed fifty feet high. Polite and exhausted, she settled in for the night. In the morning, she emerged from the guest tower with purple circles under her eyes.

“How did you sleep?” asked the queen lightly over a cup of licorice root tea.

“I cannot lie! I hardly slept a wink. I tossed and turned, and now I feel bruised from head to toe!” 

With that, the queen knew she had found the woman for her son to marry, because only a real princess could have skin delicate enough to feel a lowly pea under all those layers. 

The prince soon came down for breakfast and heard the whole story.

“Mother! You forced her to sleep on some precariously piled pillows? And furthermore, you intentionally inflicted bodily harm on a beautiful guest in need? My lady, you have my sincerest apologies for this mistreatment. How can I ever make it up to you?”

The princess was quite taken with the prince’s compassion. She asked for a lift home. The prince escorted her personally, and they spent an enjoyable ride in deep conversation.

In the end, she did marry the prince and become queen. The happy couple outlawed peas and lived delightfully ever after.

The end!

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500 Word Fairytale: The Princess and the Pea