Before I deliver the one-two punch of today’s post, I just wanted to give a big ol’ heap of THANKS to Jonny over on the Jaunts & Haunts blog for his recent absolutely humbling reviews of my short stories “Space Walk,” “Testing the Waters,” and “A Feast for Sight.”
You can read the reviews by clicking on the titles above, and if those kind words leave you curious, you can grab your own copy of the first two stories for only 99c over on Amazon (or free if you’re in Kindle Unlimited) by clicking HERE or HERE. As for that third story, well, it’s an exclusive goodie that you can only get HERE.
Okay, now onto another short story, which turned out not only to be very short, but to deliver a welcome and unexpected surprise!
The Story’s Back Story
Several months ago, I came across a writing contest in which you had write a story about a painting. I scrolled down to check out the painting and thought, “There’s no way I can come up with anything for that.”
The painting was “Down and Out” (pictured below) by Barnet Braverman. Created in 1937, the painting is part of New York’s Genesee Valley Council of Arts collection and is currently undergoing renovation.
Okay, keep in mind, I know NOTHING about boxing. Well, I do know you want to protect your ears if go up against Mike Tyson, but that’s about it.
I’ve also never tried writing a story from a picture, but the entry fee was small and I was taking a break into between stages of a larger project, so I thought I’d give it a try.
Borrowing a first-line prompt from another source, I took that first line, kept staring at the picture, began seeing how the line could become an opening scene, then an idea for the story slowly began taking shape.
Then, I wrote, and I wrote, and I wrote.
I ended up telling a tale about a kid whose father gives up everything for him to become a boxer. It sounds sappy, and I agree it’s a bit more “normal” than what I usually write, but don’t worry, in my usual style, I threw in a little twist at the end.
I wrote well over 9000 words… the longest short story I’ve ever come up with by a long shot. Finally, it got to the point where I did my edits, polished it up, edited some more, and sent it off.
Then, as I usually do, I completely forgot about it.
A few weeks ago, I got an email from the arts council. As ever, I wasn’t expecting anything other than a generic “Thanks for entering, but you didn’t win.”
Well, inner pessimist be damned, that’s NOT what it said. I’d nabbed second place!! Granted, it’s not a complete knock out, but I was super happy.
Also, after the research done for the story, I now know more boxing lingo than I ever thought I would.
If you’re interested in the story, I’ve tossed it up on my Payhip Bookstore. There’s also a brief sample below. I hope you enjoy it as much as the arts council did!
Sample from Champ
Sometimes the name they give you changes your life. Other times, it rules your life. Oh sure, if you’re born a Hank or George or something common like that, you don’t have much to live up to. You’re a blank slate as they say. You can go to school, make good grades, and no one’s going to pigeonhole you into becoming a mechanic, a shop clerk, or even a doctor. You’re your own man, your destiny hasn’t been set by the name your parents placed on your birth certificate.
Not so with me. I can’t blame my mother, she was pretty weak after enduring ten hours of labor to get me into the world. She’d done her fighting for the day and had no energy left to stage a battle of wills with my father. And so it was my pop — a Frank, in case you were wondering — who told the doctor what name to inscribe on the official document.
“You sure about that?” the doctor is reported to have asked.
“Quite. Won’t have nothing else for my little man,” replied my father who had started a whisky-fueled celebration of my birth the moment someone told him I had crowned.
The doctor, the same one who would diagnose my father with lung problems in eighteen years’ time, touched his pen to my record of birth. I swear you can see his doubtful hesitancy in the cramped lettering as if he thought maybe if he squeezed the letters tightly enough that somehow someone else could come along and jot down a different name in a bigger, more confident script.
And the name he wrote in that cramped scrawl? Champ.
Ready for more? Click HERE to get your copy of Champ today!