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Words Are Important

When Rob and I met, he told me he was a writer. And although he says he has a book started, or two, I've yet to see them <ahem>. At one point when cleaning out his house he'd feared all his work was lost forever (pre-computer days) but he found it so all's well.

Except he never writes.

I encourage him to write of course. Aside from eloquent Facebook comments and a lovely poem he once wrote me, he doesn't write.

That's why when he heard about a short story (250 words max) competition a few months ago, I told him he should enter. Sure there was a fee to consider (I don't think it was much) but it would get him writing.

I am a firm believer in creative outlets. No one says you have to be good at it. No one says you even have to share it with anyone if you aren't comfortable with it. But I also believe we are often our own worst critic and maybe a few words of appreciation can boost your confidence.

And who doesn't need that?

I sometimes think we have a collective misunderstanding that if your art isn't amazing - if it cannot be monetized - then it isn't worth sharing.


So anyway, Rob entered the contest. I think once they announced his parameters he had 24 hours to submit his entry. Or was it 48? At any rate, it wasn't much time. His task was to write a historical piece that included a choice and flipping a coin. In 250 words or less.

I think he wrote a great story. Maybe I am biased. You tell me:


CHOICES by Robert Held

He spins the radio dial, changing stations quickly. Bobbie singing “Blue Velvet”. Presidential change in Algeria. Traffic in D.C.. With a deep breath he turns it off and reaches for the intercom box on his desk, flipping the switch to his secretary.

“Send them in.”

“Yes, Mr. President.”

The door opens to a group of men in thin suits, thinner ties, and thick stacks of papers in their hands. They jostle for position next to the President.

“Mr. President,” the first man begins, as the others wait their turn. “We need to finalize the Texas tour to bolster the campaign. Starting in San Antonio then Houston, then… Dallas or Austin after that?”

“Er- yes, Kenneth. Texas needs our attention and we need their money. And their votes.”

“What’s your preference, sir,” he asks.

“Your choice.”

Kenneth looks at his papers, unsure of his decision, his pen flipping back and forth between his options. He tries to avoid the impatient stares from the others. “Sir?”

“We need all we can get,” the President says as he stands up from his desk. “We barely took Texas in ‘60. We need to secure votes. People are still upset about The Bay of Pigs. The civil rights movement weighs heavily on their minds. And there is less than a year until the election.”

“Agreed, Mr. President.”

He reaches into his desk to reveal a quarter. “Hell… Heads: Dallas, tails: Austin.” He flicks it into the air to let it land on his desk.


He received his critiques from the 3 judges for his group and they were overwhelmingly positive. Even the negatives were positive (basically they wanted more). Except one judge that said it would have been better if he identified the President. Because (s)he couldn't tell from context.

BTW one of his positive notes was how well he identified the President without spoon-feeding the information (I'm paraphrasing).

Unfortunately Rob did not make it in the top 10 to move to the next round but he did make honorable mention (13th place - so close - out of several hundred).

I think it is a great story. I know he was disappointed to not make it to the next round, he was really close.

I can't wait to read what he writes next.

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