Play Ball in PA!

For me, one of the best times on the sports calendar is here. In Williamsport, Pennsylvania, the Little League World Series is here. Some of the best youth baseball teams from around the country and around the world are competing for something resembling immortality. I’ve watched this for years, and it’s always great to watch.

Why do I like this so much? I think the reason is because of the innocence of it all. When you’re watching this, you’re watching a tournament with no baggage, no allegations of steroid use or anything else that you may hear on ESPN. It’s just baseball in its purest form. It’s almost like you’re seeing yourself as a kid. You don’t have a care in the world and the game is all that matters. I kind of have the same feeling of having a sense of seeing the sport in a pure state when watching college football, but that’s a post for another day.

As for the baseball on the field? It’s really good. I saw the regional qualifiers earlier this month and there was some great stuff. Great hitting and a few bombs of home runs were some of the highlights from my time watching. I honestly believe that if you watch the Little League World Series, you can convert any baseball haters out there. And I hear you saying that Little League isn’t MLB, and you’re right. In addition, the Little League field is smaller, which makes it seems like there’s a lot more action happening. I’ll give you that one, but I still think that there’s a way you can convince anyone that baseball is awesome if you watch the action from Williamsport.

So, the Little League World Series begins, and it’ll go on until the 27th of August. I’m excited. And I hope to see as many games as possible.

The Past

As I write, I find myself thinking of something that’s been on my mind for weeks now: backstory. Or more specifically, what should I include and not include.

Let me explain it to you this way: You know the Star Wars prequels? A series of movies that I consider the most hated things on the Internet from what I’ve seen? I think that the reason that they’re hated is, among other reasons, they gave an explanation to The Force and gave Darth Vader a backstory. The Midichlorians destroyed any mysticism The Force had to some people, and Darth Vader wasn’t the mysterious badass people had come to love for decades. Personally, I haven’t seen the prequels, but I know enough Star Wars to understand where the anger was coming from. George Lucas messed with perfection according to some people, and two of the greatest things in science fiction lost their luster to them.

I’m not sure if I’ll ever get to the point where I’m that big, but I hope to get something resembling a following. When that happens, I may get questions about my inspirations or something resembling sequels…or prequels. I’ve thought of this when thinking about my screenplay Wrath and while writing my book Welcome to Life in California (a writing process I can say is going pretty well at the moment), and I think that the idea of a backstory could make me think that too much stuff explained could ruin anything. I’m a guy that likes to read fanfiction and look at good fan art on occasion, and I think for some fans, the fun is creating their own lore. I’m not good enough to create headcanons as intricate like that (such as explaining why one character is actually another character’s father), and I think that destroying that possibility could hurt my work in the long run.

I guess the main point of what I’m trying to say is that the idea of explaining and giving a backstory is a tool for a writer, just like whatever a writer writes on, be it a laptop or a typewriter. And while the questions and fan community may not come anytime soon, I’m just thinking that maybe a sense of mystery could help my characters and my worlds (that’ll probably be set in something resembling reality) resonate and make people think “hey, this story by this Martin White II guy is pretty awesome.” Let’s hope there are people that think the same.

End Of The Road

This past Tuesday, my screenplay Wrath was named one of the top 6 screenplays for the action adventure category of the Las Vegas International Screenwriting competition. And yesterday, the category winners were announced that would go on to be in the running for the top 5 overall feature screenplays to compete to be the overall winner.

And the winner of the action adventure screenplay is…not me. That honor went to a screenplay called The Devil’s Gun. I didn’t make one of the two runners-up positions either, which went to the screenplays Black and Blue and Devil’s Valley Justice. 

The one thing that was noted was that in each and every one of the categories, the difference between top and bottom was separated by only a few points. In the action adventure category I was in, the difference between number one and number six was 3.5 points on a 100 point scale. That means, for example, that if the winner got 100 points, the #6 winner got 96.5 points. But that’s just an example. I have no idea what the actual scores are and I just wanted to give an idea of how close the scoring is. And while I have no idea what the winning scripts are about, I have no doubts that they are incredibly good.

So, what does that mean for me? Well, I feel pretty good about my performance in this competition now that it’s all over for me. I went a lot further than I thought I would. And what does this mean for Wrath? Well, I’m going to finally get a chance to look at it and see if I can apply some feedback that I received from another contest to fine-tune Wrath, though my thoughts on that endeavor could be another blog post entirely.

Anyway, I would like to sincerely thank every single person who has congratulated me and supported me throughout this entire contest. It feels great to have people who think the stuff I write is really good.

And now, I return to working on other projects.

My Process

As the months change, I think that it’s a better time than ever to talk about something some may be wondering: My writing process. It’s not that elaborate or anything. It’s not like anything you see in the movies, so if you’re wondering if I go to some cabin in the mountains, prepare to be disappointed. Anyway, here we go.

At the start of the month, when I write for the first time, I get everything I want to work on in a composition notebook. Just a simple composition notebook you can get for dirt cheap. And then, I pick one to work on. It could be a short story, or a chapter of a novel that I have in my head. Although recently, I’ve gone on to work on notes for my stories because I feel I need to streamline the bigger things I want to work on because it would help me figure out the story and where I want to go with it. While I have a lot of ideas for writing that could take me months to develop, write down, and edit, when I start writing something, I won’t write anything else until I finish that thing I commit myself to writing. It could take a few days for me to complete a chapter or a short story.

After I complete the writing, I take the day after completion as a breather day. What do I do? Watch TV, do laundry, just do anything except writing so I can recharge and think about what to do next. For now, at least. I think that once I have to deal with deadlines and release dates, I won’t have these breather days. At least I’m appreciating not having to deal with deadlines and release dates because I won’t have to deal with the worry of rushing something out, and the only expectations I have to meet are mostly my own.

And finally, one thing that I may do that’s a cliche writer thing: yes, I listen to music when I write. My choices are either the music on my phone or a channel on my Pandora account. If I use my phone, I arrange the songs that are in the “Up Next” section of music so I can just write without having to fight the urge to just pick a song every few minutes. As for the Pandora situation? I just pick a station and write with the only choice to be either be listening from my phone or my laptop. In either scenario, the only thing I listen for is if a song particularly catches my attention, which will lead me to looking to buy it on iTunes, either after I finish my writing session, or when I’m about to go on vacation.

And then I write until I’m done. Or if I’m tired. Or if my laptop’s battery life is low and needs to be connected to the charger immediately. Whichever one of those things comes first.

As for what I’m writing currently? Well, that’s kind of top secret at the moment, and the only time you’ll hear about details is if I talk about it in a “What Am I Working On?” update. Or if I announce the completion of a project. But, I will tell you this: when I finish a long work, be it a novel or a feature length screenplay, I’m going to make plans to go to an anime convention to celebrate. I went to one in my junior year of college, and it’s a great way to forget about the thoughts of an editor you hand your work to.

I hope that this post was informative and helped you understand how I write. Thank you for reading it.

 

The Disconnect Between WWE and Sports

I found this video on YouTube showing the most iconic moment for each MLB team. And while I’m not enough of a baseball watcher to judge, I did have one thought: How can “Daniel Bryan winning in the main event of WrestleMania 30 compete with any of these?” And that led me to think about something that’s been on my mind for months: How can WWE compete with actual sports?

So, there’s a critic I follow on Twitter that also talks about WWE pretty regularly (I won’t name him because I don’t want to drag him into this if it gets messy.) Whenever his favorite baseball team loses, he always tweets about it saying “This is why I don’t complain about the current state of WWE”. His line of thinking is that WWE, no matter how good it is, can never compete with actual sports like football, basketball, or baseball because no matter what, you can’t hide the fact that pro wrestling is fake and it always has been, even way before Vince McMahon started branding WWE as “sports entertainment”. He also stated that the reason that WWE is looked down on is because in the promotions before the McMahons, promoters would present the scripted product of pro wrestling as real, which caused people to think wrestling fans are stupid hicks. Also, the fact that the results are pre-determined can turn people off from appreciating the supposed artistry and ability of people like Sami Zayn, Finn Balor, and AJ Styles (even though a lot of people in the industry have skills, even experience in actual sports) because they can’t get into something where the result is decided ahead of time when they can just watch a sporting event where the result ISN’T predetermined and anyone can win.

To the critic I’m talking about: the preordained result is the thing that’s the rub to people. Think about some of the biggest scandals and controversies in sports and you’ll notice one thing they have in common: the notion of trying to manipulate the result a certain way. Whether it’s the Black Sox Scandal of 1919, point shaving in college basketball, match fixing in boxing, Game 6 the 2002 Western Conference Finals between the Los Angeles Lakers and the Sacramento Kings or the fact that the NBA Draft Lottery is the sports equivalent to The Kennedy Assassination, fixing/rigging/cheating/whatever you want to call it is seen as the cardinal sin of sports, regardless of what sport it is.

Do I agree with this? I’m not sure?

Which brings me back to Daniel Bryan. I’ve said before that I feel that the reason a lot of people get over and loved is because of meta reasons, namely that Braun Strowman destroying Roman Reigns is catharsis for Roman being shoved down fans’ throats, and that the pop for Shane-O-Mac’s return was partially for the fact that Shane represented a chance for change in the way WWE was being run, and I think one of the reasons that moment resonates with people is that it was what people love about sports: the underdog winning it all.

And since then? ESPN is following WWE to the point where you can get notifications about matches on your phone (though on TV interactions I’ve seen are non-kayfabe things, such as Seth Rollins talking about being the cover boy for WWE 2K18, or Stephanie or HHH talking about WrestleMania or SummerSlam), and some of the biggest rumors here on Cageside that gets people talking is UFC and WWE crossing paths, especially when it comes to Ronda Rousey. So, it seems that actual sports are starting to take WWE kind of seriously, even if it’s as a company and not as an in ring product.

As for scripted vs. unscripted? While real sports aren’t scripted, they can present stories that can be as compelling as WWE on its best days, if not better. Remember when Seth Rollins turned on The Shield? Do you think that can compare to the pain that Cleveland Cavaliers fans felt when LeBron James said he was joining to the Miami Heat? And while I’m a huge Becky Lynch fan, I’ll be the first to tell you that the title win at Backlash can’t hold a candle to seeing the Cubs win the 2016 World Series after 108 years of pain, heartbreak, and being a punchline and I’m not even a Cubs fan, and the critic I talked about earlier in this will say because the Cubs’ win wasn’t “booked” and no team the Cubs beat en route to their titles “put them over”.

To add onto it, LeBron James’s move to Miami and his return to Cleveland is, in my opinion, the closest thing actual sports has had to a heel turn and a face turn. And then Kevin Durant joins the Golden State Warrior, which was also seen as a heel turn, to the point where John Cena joked about it when he hosted The ESPYs. And I think nowadays, the Warriors are the NBA’s stable of monster heels. As a result, I can see the idea of a sports fan turning off of WWE, or any other wrestling promotions, if the storylines and feuds are garbage, because their favorite team may be in a storyline of its own.

The last angle of this relationship can be best summed up by one man: Lavar Ball. Remember how outlandish he was when he was on Miz TV? If you don’t watch basketball, let me tell you, and he’ll tell you as well, that’s not something he plays up for the cameras. When Lonzo Ball was drafted by the Lakers (my favorite team), Lava was interviewed and said that he would lead the Lakers to the playoffs, and when that happens, he’d have a hat on that said: “I told you so.” And that’s when I told myself, “I’m never going to complain about a bad promo ever again because I have to deal with the crap that comes out of this guy’s mouth.” The thing is, that what makes Lavar Ball so newsworthy whenever he talks: it’s not scripted. That’s why whenever you see a coach’s postgame meltdown in a press conference (here’s a good one), it’s so gripping. It’s raw emotion, no wondering if it’s a work or a shoot, and it leaves such a scorched earth that even the most diehard CM Punk fan would have to admit that his pipe bomb can’t compete.

Speaking of CM Punk, I think there’s another way that WWE can’t compete with actual sports. Looking back, do you really think that CM Punk, a guy that moved to UFC in his late 30s after being in the pro wrestling business for most of his adult life, stood a chance in the octagon? Compare that to Brock Lesnar, who’s kicked ass in both the WWE and the UFC. One could say that his MMA success could be attributed to the fact that he spent two years prior to his UFC debut pursuing an NFL career, which helped him adapt to actual and unscripted competition before he put on his gloves. Or Brock Lesnar is just a freak of nature that makes everyone shit bricks. Either way, he’s always been presented as a UFC fighter first and as a WWE Superstar second, and I think there’s a reason why.

This isn’t to take away from the accomplishments of those in WWE, nor is it to say that things can go horribly off-script in WWE (Owen Hart and Tyson Kidd are two examples of shit going sideways and things going HORRIBLY south). I love WWE, and I watch it every week. I love the characters that the wrestlers are, I love the action, and I love expressing my opinions on the product in my own way. I just think that comparing WWE to actual sports is just a confusing mess that probably shouldn’t be tackled except by those that can be considered those wise sages that live alone at the peak of a snow capped mountain. And I’m not one of those wise sages, and I never will be.

Vegas Update

Hi, everyone. Remember when I said that my screenplay Wrath was selected as one of the Top 100 screenplays for the Las Vegas International Screenplay Competition? Well, the next threshold of achievement has come: the top screenplay in each category. And now for the point you’ve been waiting for with this post:

I have been named one of the top screenplays in the action-adventure category.

Yep, I have moved on to the next round. All that’s left in this little adventure is hearing if I won my category and if that happens, I’ll be waiting to hear if I’m one of the top five overall scripts in the feature division.

So what happens now? The category winners will be announced on Saturday, and in the meantime, I’ll work on my other projects.

If you want to read the story that’s making a path for itself and actually holding its own pretty well in Sin City, you can buy a copy of Wrath on Amazon.

 

As always, thank you all for your support! And I guess I’ll see you guys as soon as I hear about Saturday’s results.

State of my Short Stories

So, this past Sunday I put another one of my short stories up here. And while I haven’t heard much reception, I’ve heard people close to me say that I need to be careful when it comes to putting my material up here basically letting people read it for free. Going through this blog, I have published just about five short stories, and altogether I’ve written less than ten. If you ask me, that’s not enough short stories to do anything with.

That being said, I guess that if I have any short stories that anyone with something resembling professional clout could consider “good”, I could go down the route of selling my stories to magazines and the like, and then put them here once it’s painfully clear that publishing them on my blog is the only way I can hope to have my short stories exist somewhere other than my hard drive. Even then, my blog is currently in a state where the only audience I have to speak of is mostly family and friends.

So, where do I go? If I have an idea for a novel or a feature screenplay, that’s not going up here because of just how much effort I have to put into it. Exceptions are:

  • If I write a short story and I post it here to gauge interest in the prospect of the concept being expanded further.
  • If I start a long work based on a short story I write, and the long work differs drastically from the short story. The amount of difference is at my discretion.

This isn’t me saying that I’m stopping the posting of short stories here. I’d say it’s me saying that short stories are probably going to appear here probably less frequently.

Thoughts?