So I’m sitting here, writing yet another prologue to my book.
Which naturally means I’m procrastinating ridiculously by returning to this poor, neglected blog of mine and spilling out yet more of the ever-tumbling crazy that I never seem to run out of.
Today, I’ve gone AWOL from my original story and stared writing something random about England in 1415. Which somehow morphed into France in 1415.
What the frak this has to do with anything I don’t know, but I feel like anytime I write something that actually sounds good, I’m happy to take what I can get.
And it does sound good, today. Well, goodish. Amazingly.
And for the record, did you know how many hours you can spend on Google looking up info on weapons from the 1400’s? Seriously. Do it and see if you leave your computer after anything less than 2 hours.
As it stands now, the Christmas wish I’ve had since I was three – an Oscar – has now been dumped in favour of a long bow and a catapult that has the potential to launch giant flaming fireballs.
Which I will then use to threaten my way to an Oscar.
I know. The brilliance is OVERWHELMING. Kneel, minions.
As for the book, the more I think about it, the more I think my main character and I are locked in a kind of war of attrition: each trying to wear each other down with potential plotlines. Sometimes it’s like she knows best, sometimes I do.
It’s kind of like having a thumb war with myself. In my head. If that makes sense.
I have an idea, I dump it, pick it up again five years later, suddenly decide it’s shiny, slap it into a random scene I’m tossing around that day, then do it all over again. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. But it’s blessed me with the lesson of knowing the value of not throwing stuff out : as long as I’ve got it, I can always go back to it. The other thing I’ve been really blessed with is great encouragement, and when I need it, opportunity.
If I need stuff read, constructively critiqued, brutalised with a red pen – whatever – I have people who are willing to do that.
So essentially, I have it good. Great, even. I write what I love, I’m supported in that, and I am in full control of 100% of the content. I don’t care that I don’t get paid for it – I am so lucky to have the opportunity to do something I’m passionate about, and come hell or high water, what I create is mine, and stays mine.
To be honest, this is something I don’t think I’ve valued as much in the past as I have learned to over the last ten months or so.
Like anything, nothing in life teaches you to appreciate how good you have it, like seeing someone who but for the grace of the Almighty could have been you. To be fair, being either of the particular guys who inspired this creative kick in the pants, for the majority of their careers, would be beyond amazing were it possible.
The first wrote all seven seasons of one of the greatest television shows ever broadcast to a viewing audience, as well as having written countless other shows that boast fans from here to Neptune.
The second has spent his career writing for and about pretty much everything, eventually ending up in writing for that curious business known as sports entertainment, only to become so disenfranchised that he decided to – rather than sit on his arse and rant about it – use his voice to do something about it.
But first, Joss.
The first time I saw Buffy The Vampire Slayer, two things happened.
Firstly, my dad banned me from watching it.
True to form, he was probably right. Rather than focus on things that matter – like maths homework, the historical nature of WWII trench warfare, and trumpet practice – I spent the majority of 1997 fantasising about David Boreanaz’s glory hair and Sarah Michelle Gellar’s ability to successfully wield random weapons at whim.
Actually, I’m pretty sure that’s why to this day I can’t sight read (or pitch) any music harder than Three Blind Mice and the Moonlight Sonata.
Damn you, Angelus. You and your Classic Captain Coif hairdo.
The second thing that happened, however, was that I realised for the first time exactly why I wanted to be a writer. I was fascinated to the point of obsession with the idea that someone could come up with a character in their mind, write down their words and actions on paper, get someone to act it out, and somehow then manage to affect the pop culture psyche of a generation of TV viewers.
To this day, I still have epic conversations with people regarding Vampire Willow, blowing up Sunnydale High after the Mayor turned into a giant demony dragon thing, how much we all hated Riley and the pros and cons of choosing Spike over Angel if we were Buffy, depending on whether the world was in a state of peace or apocalypse…iness.
Joss Whedon, I suspect, has had this effect on many writers. He is the man who made us believe that the geeky kids with the fantastical imaginations, comic book collections and beaten-up-by-love library cards could rule the world, through great characters and stories that remind us of the power that lies within our humanity.
Last year, I had the privilege of hearing him speak at the Opera House for a one off interview with Australian comedian (and diehard BTVS addict) Wil Anderson. For those of you who are Joss fans, you’ll know that since the glory days of Buffy, this amazing writer has been subsequently screwed over a number of times by network executives who wouldn’t know quality television if it bit them on the arse, punched them in the face and tattooed its phone number on their foreheads.
And never more so than with Whedon’s beloved and short-lived series, Firefly.
Cowboys in space.
Essentially, that’s what this show was. What it was about however, was life. Darkness, sacrifice, love, joy, wit, death, betrayal, courage, pain, bravery, stupidity, stubbornness, passion, identity. Humanity.
These were characters, he said, that were as real – if not more so – than sometimes actual people were to him. These were the stories he had lived his whole life just to tell, and he had already proved time and time again that when it came to stories, he was a master teller.
Firefly was Joss Whedon’s creativity at its magnificent best. And it was cut short, cancelled after a bare 14 episodes, because of a network’s pathetic lack of faith. Now, to you, this may all seem like rather an overreaction.
After, it’s not exactly like the FOX executives accidentally shot Archduke Ferdinand and started WWII.
But how would you feel if something so close to your heart was stolen away, just because somebody else didn’t believe it was worth the time of day? How would you feel if suddenly, you were silenced from ever telling the story you were born to tell by people who deemed it important only if it made money in its first five minutes of air time?
Joss himself said it best when he remarked that there are some things in life that are painful enough, heartbreaking enough, that you know life after what you’ve lost will never involve getting over it. Just finding a way to live with it.
Hearing this, from such a man, made me realise something. That there is no publishing deal in the universe that will ever compensate you if you lose the ownership of the precious things you have spent a lifetime creating. I knew the answer even before I asked myself what price I would be willing to pay to let my characters go and be controlled by someone else. The answer was no price, because not even the richest man in the universe could afford that much.
So he taught me very early my reason, but it was only with age that he likewise taught me the rhyme of what it was to be a writer.
Second, of course, is a man that unless you travel in particular circles, you may not have heard a lot about. But whoever you are, be thankful, because chances are that show you love probably involved Dave Lagana at some point.
By now, if you’ve read any back entries on this blog, you’ll know that I’m a bit partial to (read: abso-frakking-lutely, grin-like-an-idiot love) contact sports. Particularly wrestling.
That ‘fake’ stuff people are randomly on about. That thing that made Hulk Hogan famous. That strange place The Rock existed before he decided he could act and made The Tooth Fairy (You know. That movie for which he owes the world a bazillion dollars and an apology roughly the size of the former USSR). That place where big bulky dudes in lycra undies and sporting burnt sienna tans wack each other in the face with chairs and yell a lot.
It’s bawdy, gaudy, athletic and wildly over the top. And I LOVE it.
As to Dave Lagana’s involvement in all of it, I’ll be honest and say that I didn’t really know all that much about it, until one night (again with the procrastinating) I happened to find myself flicking through the more recent podcasts of Colt Cabana’s Art of Wrestling, and discovered the aforementioned was a guest.
If you love wrestling and you’ve never listened to Colt Cabana, for Pete’s sake GET YOUR ARSE TO ITUNES and download him now. Aside from the salt-on-ice, cuts-through-the-crap, grinning Chicago-flavoured humour (that may at times cause you to usher small children and family pets outside before you press play), he speaks with honesty and integrity about a business that he both loves but knows is in need of a serious shake up. And it’s great.
Lagana, was to that date, the only non-wrestler to have guested on the program. He was, rather, a former member of the most evil conglomerate on earth, known as WWE Creative, aka the WWE writing team.
(That said, be honest: you all thought of Starbucks first, didn’t you.)
After a career writing for top line TV shows including Friends, he broke into the business to which he’d always aspired: sports entertainment. As everyone will know (well, everyone except those dedicated and insane few who refuse to believe the conspiracy) that wrestling as seen in the WWE is scripted up to the hilt. Dave Lagana was one such member of the writing team behind some of the WWE’s biggest shows, primarily SmackDown in the mid-2000s.
What, you might ask, does he have to do with giving me a new found appreciation for the struggles of a writer? Put simply, to be in the business he aspired to, he was forced to work in an environment where new, out-of-the-box ideas and promising talent were stifled, in favour of the boss’s whims and the bottom lining of his already fat pockets.
Me, sitting here, whinging after hearing him talk about what this was like…well I would have deserved a kick in the arse had I done so.
I think about all the writers who have compromised on the quality of their work in order to just pump another novel out in order to make money, sacrificing great writing rather than taking the time to create something genuine and intelligent, that forces the reader to sit up and take notice.
I mean, people like Dan Brown.
I read The Da Vinci Code in one day and finished it realising it would make a better beer coaster than a movie. Yet you continue to put out book after book of utter crap, making millions, while infinitely greater writers than you languish in oblivion.
It’s people and attitudes like this that I’ve really come to hate: when the bottom line in an already rich industry is deemed more important than pushing the boundaries of creativity, in order to create a better product.
In regards to wrestling, put simply, it’s become an business where you seem to either sell out, or get sold out. And how sad is that, in something that used to be so good at heart for so many generations of fans.
It would be like…I don’t know…J.K. Rowling filling up her last Harry Potter novels with references to Coke, Nike and Windows Vista in order to make more money from her already best selling books. Books that began and became successful in the first place by appealing to a reader’s senses of imagination and grandeur and wit.
As for Dave Lagana, what makes him so impressive to me is his choice to become an active voice in the wrestling community with a view to seeing programming developed that shows respect for the fan base AND raising the creative bar. Not treating viewers like a bunch of hillbillies with the collective IQ of a fork.
And whether wrestling is your thing or not, this kind of attitude as a general rule – one based in respect and creativity – is too valuable to not be important. To not be an attitude that matters in the world.
Whinging achieves nothing. Having a voice and making it count for the betterment of a bad situation? That’s where you nail your colours to the mast and declare what kind of person you have decided to be in the world.
So wherever you are gentlemen, thankyou.
For pertinent distractions, and for reminding me of the power and importance of a writer’s voice in the increasing white noise of a homogenous, modern world.
And to Colt Cabana. Who is both funny and can rock a unitard like a BOSS.
To visit these guys’ sites wunderbar sites, go to:
www.iwantwrestling.com (Dave Lagana)
www.whedonesque.com (Not by, but the best site for all thing Joss Whedon)
www.welovecolt.com (Colt Cabana’s Art of Wrestling)