Little Black Book by Rosemary C Feld


Chapter 1

Scrolling through Facebook, I see a writing contest ad. A $20,000 prize stands out in large digits, catching my eye. I scroll past, and then a few moments later begin to wonder if it’s worth checking out. I go back and click on the link. The rules look simple enough. So, where’s the catch? I start reading through the rules, looking for the catch.

I knew it! I have to be a plus-member to enter the contest. Figures. It’s always a money scheme. I sigh, feeling disappointed. Twenty-grand would have been nice. Not that I expected to win it. But at least I didn’t waste my time writing a story first and finding out later that I have to be a paying member to enter the contest.

* * * * *

I leave the page, but a short while later, I start thinking that it might not hurt to at least check out what the plus-membership entails.

Wow! I discover that it’s not very expensive at all, and there’s a discount for the first three months, and I can change my mind at any time. I can afford that, and with a chance to win twenty-grand, it definitely would be worth it. Well, if I win.

Still, my mind goes to ideas of how I’d spend the money. It sure would be nice.

* * * * *

Okay, I will read through the rules before I get carried away. When things look too good to be true, they usually are.

Oh great, now I have to be part of this money exchange program. Let’s see if it’s even in my country. If not, then the decision is made for me. It is. But I wonder if it’s safe to use? Excellent, more research to do. So much for simple. Is it worth it? I mean, what are the chances I’d win?

Before going back to the rule page, I hesitated to check out the writing site’s details. Ugh, Terms of Service. I don’t particularly like reading through all that crap. Is this worth it? Just researching if this is even a legitimate site seems a bother, let alone coming up with a story. What would I even write?

Oh great, here comes the writer’s block.

Chapter 2

Twenty-four-seven, my mind is inundated with stories passing through it. I have dozens upon dozens of entirely written, unpublished books on my hard drive. But ask me to write a specific storyline and nothing.

Even if I do come up with an idea, the doubt sets in after I write it. It’s why I have dozens of unpublished stories on my computer. I get excited while writing, and then when done, I start thinking that no one is going to like it, let alone buy it.

After all, I have published a few books on Amazon, and yeah, a few people have bought them, even a few strangers, and they have all left good reviews. But why aren’t more people buying them? It’s not like I haven’t done the marketing. That’s another whole nightmare. I’ve sent my books to publishers, but none were ever interested. My writing doesn’t appear to be good enough or interesting enough. So, why bother?

Eh, if a story idea comes to me, then maybe I’ll do it. I won’t force it.

* * * * *

An hour later, I find my mind trying to force it.

Maybe a cute story of a little girl finding a little black book. Okay, so what is in the book? Perhaps a scavenger hunt that leads her to twenty-thousand dollars.

Or maybe a story about someone living on the street, struggling to find food and shelter, finds a little black book. Perhaps it has inspirational messages written in it which the person tries to follow, but nothing seems to help. It all seems so pointless to him, so he tears out all the pages out of anger and frustration. He finds a folded piece of paper in the spine and discovers that it’s a Cashier’s Check written out to Holder of this Cashier’s Check, with an amount of $20,000.

But what inspirational messages would be in the book?

My mind goes blank again.

Chapter 3

I return to the contest page, thinking even the second or third prizes would be nice. It would sure be nice actually to earn some money from my writing—my passion.

Sighing, I put it aside again.

* * * * *

Lying in bed, I get a flash of a visual of my mother, half hiding behind a door, and the part that I can see, she is shaking her finger at me. Why the heck is my mom shaking her finger at me? I can’t think of anything that I’ve recently done wrong where she’d be shaking her finger at me.

The image keeps coming back throughout the day. What does it mean?

* * * * *

Later that night, I get an inspiration—the vision of my mother half hiding behind the door is telling me to stop hiding, get out there, and write and share my writing. It’s true; I have been hiding. But I already put myself out there and failed.

I feel depressed.

* * * * *

Okay, I’m going to write, but what? I hate trying to force a story. That never works for me. I need to let it come to me. So, I decided that if an idea comes before the deadline, it comes. If not, then it isn’t meant to be.

But that twenty-thousand dollars sure would be nice.

* * * * *

Tossing and turning as I lay in bed, I start thinking of a little black book I have—a drawing book, but it is “little” and “black” and cute. So, I start thinking it would be fun to write a story about a little black book in a little black book.

Maybe my writing is just meant to be for my enjoyment. Perhaps I’m not intended to be a published writer. Yet, I have a passion for sharing my stories. I have a desire for others to enjoy my writing. But then the doubts set in.

Why do I care what people think? I shouldn’t care. I should do it, and if people like my writing—great. If not, oh well. Except I do care. I guess I believe my stories are an aspect of who I am, and when they are not accepted, I feel like who I am—the core of who I am—is rejected. But the reality is that not everyone will like me, even as a person, so to expect everyone to like my writing is naïve.

So, I talk myself into it, and I finally decided to get the little black book out and, at the very least, jot down some ideas. Then I suddenly get the idea of writing a story about my thoughts and reservations about writing: the doubts, the frustrations, the hope of success, the fear of failure.

Is it that simple? Is that my story?

* * * * *

Okay, I’m going to do it. I’m going to read through all the rules of the contest again. I’m going to read through the terms of service and all those things I hate to read. And I’m going to write my story, and I’m going to win twenty-thousand dollars.

Chapter 4

I did it–I wrote my story!

Now for the editing. I’m not too fond of that part. But it has to appear professional; otherwise, people aren’t going to want to read it. Editing is the part I dislike the most about writing, marketing a close second on my list. I only want to write. I wish my stories were popular enough to where I could hire an editor and marketing professional. But that’s not the way it works. You have to do it all yourself in the beginning.

All I want to do is write the stories that come into my head without worrying about grammar and punctuation. Thank god for Grammarly and Spellchecker. I am thinking back with amusement to the days before the internet. Remember the days with a dictionary and thesaurus at your side?

* * * * *

Finally, my editing is complete. I have read and re-read, edited, and re-read, and edited again. How many times now? I lost count. How is it possible to keep finding errors, using Spellcheck and Grammarly, and reading through so many times?

Okay, one more time through; this is the last time. If I find any more errors, I’ll fix them, but that’s it; no more read-throughs. It’s time to submit my story.

* * * * *

My story is submitted!

I wonder if they will accept it? Probably not. It was a stupid idea. Is what I wrote even technically fiction? My thought processes? Are thoughts non-fiction?

No, I think thoughts are fiction. Though I suppose if I’m acting on those thoughts, then they might not be fiction. I don’t know.

Oh, wait!

What I’m writing now hasn’t happened yet. I haven’t submitted my story. I’m still writing it. So, that makes it fiction.

Chapter 5

I put the contest aside for a time now that my story is submitted. Or at least, I try to. It still pops into my head from time to time, wondering if it will even be accepted, wondering if I’ll win if it is. Will someone read it, let alone like it?

But then the day comes where it is accepted.

Excitement, hope, doubts preparing me for disappointment while secretly crossing my fingers all pass through me.

Days pass.

Weeks pass.

The deadline finally arrives, and I wonder how long before I find out if I won. It could be months. Will they tell me if I lost? Or will they leave me wondering? There are likely thousands upon thousands of entries: budding writers hoping for a break, hoping to win twenty-thousand dollars, experienced writers wanting a nice chunk of money.

How can my story compete against all of those other stories?

Chapter 6

Oh my god! I won! I won!

I just won $20,000!

They liked my story, and I won!

* * * * *

A smile crosses my face. I do a little happy dance around my living room.

I sit down, take my little black book out and start making a list of how I want to spend the money. I created a mental checklist before, but now that it’s real, it’s time to make an actual list. I can’t believe this is happening.

Fiction turned to reality.

* * * * *

My heart is racing with excitement and exhilaration.

Maybe it is time to stop hiding.

I’m a writer, an honest-to-goodness writer.

* * * * *

Holy crap! I won $20,000!