A New Blog

Well, I decided to start up a blog. A side project if you will, where I can focus on random creative work unrelated to my serious fiction. I consider it “the other side of the coin” to this page, and hope you all enjoy it.

Be sure to drop by and check out the opening post, and keep an eye out here and my other usual channels for future posts down the road!

Ars Gratia Artis
The Official Opinion Blog of J. Chris Lawrence

Unbound

What is easily the shortest work of Fiction I have ever completed, “Unbound” has gone live today at 50wordstories.com.

When I first discovered this site, I took the very specific word limit as something of a challenge. I hope you enjoy the results of my first attempt. As always, comments and rates are appreciated.

A Work of Progress

As it turns out, “A Good Use” has gone live today at Every Day Fiction magazine!

This piece, which marks the final acceptance of the three I submitted, has come with its fair share of struggles for me. From the first writing to the last, it has undergone several transitions at the mercy of a growing writer’s understanding of the craft, and I would like to thank EDF for their patience with all of my edits.

(Warning: Spoiler alert!)

When I originally had the idea for this piece, it spawned from the question of what it takes to cut the tape between stereotypical right and wrong. Would it be wrong to kill a man that you caught killing your wife? I began my attempt to craft a chilling scenario where a good man is given the freedom to make this choice with the evil man at his whim. This brought to mind the question of whether it is every victim’s wish to be free of oppression, or if it is truly our nature to dream of oppressing the oppressors; if given the opportunity, would we be any different?

Of course, this idea is nothing new, and it didn’t feel quite as organic or original as I’d have liked. While most horror lacks a certain realism or originality, and as a genre can be somewhat formulaic, I felt it needed something more. So as the writing began, I soon found myself throwing in the twist of “Billy” and the confusion with a doctor; where the guilty became innocent and the innocent guilty in an effort to add depth of character and circumstance.

Such changes, it seems, come with their own demands.

Much of my rewriting and edits came through careful consideration of suggestions, but all of them focused on the actual writing itself. How could I capture all of the new content that was required to make this intricate plot work in such a short span of words? The original idea was simple enough, but with the complexities now ingrained, it became a test of my eye for detail to polish a story seeking to accomplish this impossible task.

Though easily a reflection of an author new to the craft, I’m proud of the outcome.

“A Good Use” was originally written nearly a  year before I started “A Widow’s Tale“, and I feel that much of the progress seen in her story came from lessons learned through this one, at least as far as writing flash fiction is concerned. It’s certainly not my best work, but I’m glad to see it available for those interested in following my progress as a writer. It has certainly been a great opportunity for me to improve my craft, and I owe much of this to those friends of mine that grudgingly reread the same story over and over, as well as the EDF staff for the patience and time they gave this polymorphous piece.

An Unconventional Tale

UPDATE (12/2/11) — “The Widow’s Tale” has been nominated by Every Day Fiction Magazine for the Pushcart Prize, 2013.

 

I’m very pleased to announce that “The Widow’s Tale” is now live at Every Day Fiction! I’m rather proud of this piece, and hope you all enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed putting it to paper. Or screen as the case may be these days.

One of the features of this story that I’m most excited about, however, isn’t even a part of the story itself. It is the opportunity to tell the story behind the story; the inspiration for our little widow’s tale of unrequited love.

Spoiler alert! You should read the story before going on with this. Go ahead! Don’t worry about me, I can wait.

 

 

Well, did you read it? Good.

See, it started a couple years ago, when I set about the toilsome task of cleaning out my garage. Naturally, I hadn’t made it out there much that year, so it became dominated with all manner of eight legged freaks. I was of the mind that I should rent the space for scientific research on arachnid studies, but with one stern point of a finger from my wife, I rolled up my sleeves, and soon found both myself and a can of spider spray hard at work.

I should say now that I don’t like killing spiders. I don’t like killing anything really. I suppose this probably lent a hand to me sparing its life when I came upon a tiny, dark critter on the garage door. It was in a rather remote and inconspicuous location, so I let it go. Later, standing at the door to the house, I surveyed the narrow passage I managed to clear betwixt the mounds of clutter, and with a self satisfied smile, I slapped the dirt from my hands and called it a job well done.

As time moved on, I would pass through the garage, every so often stopping to glance at the spider that lived. I found myself flabbergasted by the growing mound of flies on its small web and littered about like scraps below. I actually counted out over fifteen at one point. After a while, I started to muse that it was my pet of sorts. You know, the kind of pet that you would never touch lest you be reduced to the squeals of a frightened eight year old girl.

I remember as it grew, I was stricken by its deepening obsidian color. I began to wonder if it was a black widow, but I hadn’t seen any red markings on its undercarriage, so I assumed not. One day, as I passed by, that all changed.

So I did some research, and discovered that, not only are there many different kinds of Widows, a good bit of them start off without red spots or even the infamous black coloring. My little spider was just a maturing adolescent. But as it grew older, it became unquestionable that I did in fact have the source of all nightmares living in my garage.

I had a pet death machine!

I also read that they aren’t the death machines that they are made out to be, and that in this day and age, most of their bites could be readily treated so long as it’s medically addressed. Nevertheless, I have kids! I could take no risks! So out came the spray. But just as I unleashed the liquid fury, my spider was gone. It moved like a fleeting thought, leaving behind a web, abandoned to the dripping poison.

I never saw it again.

Just about a month or two ago, I lay half asleep when the story came to me. I tried seeing life from that spider’s perspective, and I found myself driven to write. As the words flowed, more and more came out of my little widow. She took on form and personality, having a reality all her own.

Looking back now, I think perhaps I’ve given her vindication by allowing her voice to be heard. And, well, letting her potentially kill somebody. It’s only fair.

So that’s it, the story behind the story. Not so epic, but hopefully entertaining. And may that little widow’s life be immortalized, if only through fiction.