A Parable about Publishing

Adapted by Michael Simms

A man in a hot air balloon realized he was lost. He reduced altitude and spotted a woman below. He yelled: “Excuse me, can you help me? I promised a friend I would meet him an hour ago, but I don’t know where I am!”

The woman below replied: “You are in a hot air balloon hovering about thirty feet above ground. You are between forty and forty-one degrees north latitude and between fifty-nine and sixty degrees longitude.”

“You must be a writer,” said the balloonist. “I am,” replied the woman, “How did you know?” “Well,” answered the man, “everything you told me was well said, but I have no idea what to do with it, and the fact is, I am still lost. Frankly, you have not been much help so far.”

The woman responded, “You must be a publisher!” “I am!” replied the balloonist, straightening his tie, “but how did you know?” “Well,” said the woman, “you don’t know where you are or where you are going. You have risen to where you are by a large quantity of hot air. You made a promise you have no idea how to keep, and you expect people beneath you to solve your problems. The fact is, you are in exactly the same position you were in before we met, but now, somehow, it’s my fault.”


Filed under: Humor, Michael Simms, Prose

Michael Simms Headshot

Michael Simms is the founder of Autumn House Press and its editor-in-chief from 1998-2016. Currently he is the editor of Vox Populi, an online magazine of poetry, politics and nature. His most recent collections of poems are American Ash and Nightjar, both published by Ragged Sky Press. He lives in Pittsburgh. Find more at: www.michaelsimms.info