My Little Black Book

I admit it, and I’m not even embarrassed about it. I don’t hide it. I carry it with me wherever I go, right out in the open. It’s sitting beside me right now, as a matter of fact. In the guise of full disclosure, I’ll even confess that I had to purchase a new one because I had thumbed the other one raw. Besides, it was full, with no room for new additions, and there’s always new additions. I needed more space. Lots of it.

It’s my little black book.

Don’t worry; the girls know all about it. They’re not pissed or jealous or packing my bags to send me on my way, even though, sometimes there are lonely nights while I’m making use of the little black book. Actually, they’ve told me it brings a smile to their faces when they see me caressing it, contemplating the endless possibilities that hide between the leather covers. They urge me to open it, write in it, explore it, this little black book.

I even tell them about the people inside, the places we’ve been, the things we’ve done. It excites them. They ask deeper, probing questions, and I write some more. They help me fill up the lines, adding even more people. They’re excited to meet them as well, wanting to hear their stories of adventure and anguish, eager to hear all about their lives. The girls ask me daily, “Did you add anyone new to your little black book.” The answer is almost always yes.

They don’t see it as being unfaithful. They see it as exploration. There’s only one who sees my little black book as my being unfaithful—my current manuscript. You see, this little notebook is an odd assortment of ideas, character sketches, future projects that distract me from the one I’m supposed to be meeting with right now. Their siren call seduces me away from my committed project, begging me to explore their plot lines, delve into their subplots, and thrust into their backgrounds. They’re not satisfied being on the side, waiting for when I have time to slip an arm around them, spare them a little attention. They want to be the main squeeze, the right now.

And there’s a lot in there. I currently have enough ideas to last me thirty years at four books a year without ever adding anything new. Yet, there’s always something new, some new call to pull me away for just a little while. There’s always a new mistress whispering in my ear that they’re the one to replace the current project, they’re better, stronger, fresher. It’s all a lie, however. While the stories vary in their strengths and offerings—this one a paranormal with ghosts, this one a lover who returns to find their family slaughtered, this one an elf that wants to steal Rhychard’s betrothed—they’re not necessarily better than the one I am with right now; they’re merely the distraction.

It’s easy to become sidetracked, to allow the temptresses of new stories to cause me to take my eyes off the manuscript I am committed to at the time, especially when the manuscript and I have hit a rough spot. There isn’t much communication, the characters have ceased speaking to me, the plotline has gone off the designated path. It’s a loveless marriage, but one that just needs time to work things out. It will happen, things will come together, that spark will reignite and the story will burn across the keyboard. It always happens, the return of the muse for a story. It takes work, commitment, and my little black book.

I have discovered the best way to deal with the distractions is to write them in my book, jotting down notes and ideas for the story that’s trying to steal away my attention, then close the cover, silencing the call for the moment, so I can snuggle with my main manuscript. They’ll get their time, their moment in the spotlight, some sooner than others. For now, though, I need to return home to the story I’ve committed to, the one I promised “whether inspired or not, through writer’s block and long nights, until publishing do us part,” and see where we’re going next. It’s always an adventure. One that I’ve gladly committed to—for better or worse.

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Until next time, keep chasing your fantasies!

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