Leggo My Ego

I’ve been waiting for this night for seven years! I write about ego in NIGHTFALL, talk about it, how it can affect choices. I don’t actually lecture about it, making the narrative a freaking lecture, which was how I felt Dan Brown was doing in THE SYMBOL. I just weaved the affects of ego through the narrative, hoping that I’ve communicated my views through subtext.

Broke Back

Broke Back

Tonight was a historic night.

One of the most talked about UFC fights was UFC 162, Anderson Silva vs. Chris Weidman (pictured left). Silva (pictured right) has been the reigning middle weight (185 lb) champion for the past seven years. In mixed martial arts (MMA), that is unheard of because no one has accomplished that, save Silva.

I’ve always felt that Silva had an ego, though you'd never know with the words he uses. Like a shark that can sense blood from a thousand miles away, I can sense a person's ego. We see evidence of Silva's arrogance in his previous fights when he taunts his opponents, giving little respect, despite the fact that he says he respects every single opponent.

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Actions speaks louder than words. Women know this. I know this. Does this make me a woman?

Silva’s fights always starts with some form of reading his opponent, where they’ll attempt some form of attack, but Silva always evades, doing calculations like a supercomputer, reading their reach, timing, rhythm, skill, mind set, etc. And once he’s done with his calculations, he pounces and often finishes his opponents in the second round.

When the main event of UFC 162 started, I saw Silva come out, completely relaxed. Weidman charges to the middle of the octagon, also relaxed. In spite of Weidman, who is a very accomplished wrestler, taking Silva to the mat, the champion easily evaded all submissions attempts and got back to his feet. A few moments later, Silva’s supercomputer was on its way to finishing the calculations. I know this because when the champion starts taunting the challenger, he'd figured out Weidman. My body reacted from watching all of Silva's other fights, expecting a huge knock out finish of the challenger. From my point of view, Weidman seemed lost, but he also looked relaxed, a good thing. End first round.

Here’s the important part. When the second round began, Silva came out and taunted Weidman again. When Weidman tried to strike, Silva would dodge and move as if the challenger had nothing on him. The champion even pretended he was hurt when a punch grazed by his cheeks, an expert at going with the flow of punches, making him very difficult to knock out. More taunting, show boating ensued, something the fans of the UFC, and me, were used to.

Then it came. Weidman threw a combination, which was a little messy but worked because a half-hearted back fist had forced Silva’s head to flow left, and he blinked. Weidman quickly followed it with a punch to the chin, knocking down (out even as Silva’s eyes rolled up) the former champion. Weidman then followed Silva with punches to the ground to make sure he was done.

Knocked Tha Ef Out

Knocked Tha Ef Out

So this is a long diatribe about how ego can be anyone’s downfall. I’m not saying I don’t have one, but I’m aware of it enough to not let it step in front of me and control my actions. Most of the time.

Ego has brought down civilizations, religions war over which god is better killing millions upon millions, corporations have withered away when the focus is on material wealth rather than serving the people. Sometimes it takes time. I mean, Rome wasn’t built in a day, and it took a damn long time before it fell. Israel is still a subject of huge contention. Blackberry and Microsoft were caught with their pants down when Apple released the iPhone.

I’ve written how I’ve left my martial arts school because I didn’t believe in them anymore, their form of teaching, and the egos displayed in every inch of that school. They commented on my website, trying to dissuade me from my opinion, and as I’ve written here, I don’t read reviews unless I’ve solicited for it. My former school, on the other hand, have changed part of their system to accommodate for my criticism, and failed because they simply didn’t understand my article and the simple truth about how humans learn physical movement. The crazy part is that article listed simple things they could do to improve their student’s abilities. Dorks.

Yes, I do have a spy there. And they will never figure out whom. If they did, oops. Sorry, dude. Or dudet.

A Rose By Any Other Name Is Still A Flower

There's a part of me that hate going to writer's conferences and groups. There's a lot of advice and egos that I don't like surrounding myself with, having to deal with a lot of that at work and the corporate structure already takes bland to the next level.

Do I look smaht?

Do I look smaht?

In saying that, I do go every once in a while to see if the are good publishing ideas I can leech. There was this self published writer who puts out books several times a year and from what he says, which I took with many pinches of salt, then drank a cup of seawater from the Pacific, is doing alright. A woman had asked a question and that guy jumped on her, stating that you shouldn't call your book your baby: it's a product. You're writing a product, marketing a product, and ultimately selling a product.

What's in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet

Don't touch me there

Don't touch me there

I watched the movie PRECIOUS, a movie based on the book PUSH. Afterward, what I love to do is watch the special features on the DVD. The author of the book, Ramona Loftin, Sapphire, was hesitant on letting her book go, her baby as she affectionately called it, to be made into a movie. If this guy jumped on her for calling her book her baby, I think she would have tore him a new hole to go along with the one that expelled all that hot air.

I know several very successful self-help authors who call every book their baby. They would be a little bit more enlightened when it comes to this, but it doesn't take away from the fact that some writers, not this guy whose ego jumped in his way, just care about their projects. And why wouldn't they? Many of us put our hearts and souls into our work because its a work of art. And if we are to believe the famed photographer, Rodney Lough, art is the language of the soul.

Praise da lawd for Da Vinci didn't write da bible

Praise da lawd for Da Vinci didn't write da bible

Chancing on another writer's group with the subject on self publishing, I heard an architect turned writer state that the DA VINCI CODE was a horrible book. Then the leader of the group said the publishing world publishes things like HARRY POTTER like it was a bad thing.

Oh mah lawd.

So there are two things going on here. On the one hand, the guy with a lot of hot air has a point, artists who want to make it big in the big world of big business has to think like a business person. No doubt. And artists who want to make it big have to create works that are commercial, meaning that the babies we're creating can be sold as a product.

Wow...there's a lot of Asians in this movie. Odd for Hollywood

Wow...there's a lot of Asians in this movie. Odd for Hollywood

I remember watching a documentary about how Asians are portrayed in Hollywood. And Justin Lin who directed the new up coming FAST AND FURIOUS movie was one of the featured subjects, given that he's Asian and works in Hollywood and took a huge chance by making the amazing BETTER LUCK TOMORROW, an Asian-cast movie. Yah. When he was in film school, he saw both sides of the fence: film makers who were pure artists, stating they would never sell out, and those who were willing to sell out. Lin said something that I'd never forget, the only thing I thought worth remembering from that documentary: it's hard to sell out.

So as writers, we have to determine what we want out of our projects, which can vary. Do we want to do it for the fun of it, do we want some mid level success, or do we want the whole freakin' world to read it? Since we cannot control what happens, we see evidence of this in the industry since no one really knows what makes a best seller, I suggest do it because you find it fun, do it because you have something to say, do it for whatever reason that gets you to write, but do it if you want and let the world decide if they want to read it.

You Pointin' to Me?

Do I look fat?

Do I look fat?

You pointin’ to me? Then who the hell else are you pointin’…you pointin’ to me? Well I’m the only one here.

When world building, indicating or explaining, using dialogue or exposition, is necessary. One of the biggest criticisms a published author indicated to me was my world. (Why do people say published author? Like that validates my work, their advice, or me.) That I had to give more details, really go into how politics work, are there classes in society, where and how do they live, etc. All the nitty-gritty stuff that helps ground the world into reality.

However, once you get passed that, indicating too much is too much. Cause it’s too much. I think that’s what writing folk call writing on the nose. I tend not to write on the nose cause there’s not much room there. The basic premise is not to be so obvious, to dictate, to indicate story to the point where it’s not fun.

You smell

You smell

An example of this was The Lost Symbol. Part of the premise of the book was how thought helps create and manipulate our world, something that I’ve been interested in for most of my life. As I trudged through the book, I felt like I was being lectured by one of those new age preachers asking me to give my lifesavings and body to the better good. Not sure if that’s an example of on the nose writing, but Dan Brown’s overuse of italics seriously annoyed me. Not because it was italicized. But because he was trying so hard, it felt to me, to indicate what these people were thinking and feeling. Why not use expository sentences in between dialogue to do that? But who am I?

I think a great way of showing what your character is about, or how your world works is layering different things that point to a certain idea.

The martial art school I used to go to played favorites in a big way, without explicitly showing it by hiding it in meaning.

Upon entering the school, a row of black belts’ pictures lined the wall above the mirrors. The center portrait was of the owner, the master of all masters, the one. Flanking him were black belts in descending degrees. When I was there, I had noticed that my personal teacher, who was third highest rank in the school, slowly moved farther and father away from the center until, ultimately, his image mysteriously disappeared. At the same time, new black belts edged their way closer to the center. It was explained that these individuals were contributing more to the school, while others who didn’t got axed from the wall of fame.

We be cool

We be cool

Automatically, you the student in the mirror was below the instructors of the school. And those who followed remained on the wall of shame, while those who didn’t were thought to be outsiders. But it’s those outsiders who usually make the biggest marks in the universe. Bruce Lee anyone? Whoppah! Now, of course, the author should not explain what was really going on, nor lecture his thoughts on being an outsider, like I did with Bruce. That’s for the reader/audience to figure out for themselves, if they so choose. And their interpretation is a good indication of who they are. Isn’t that the fun of reading?

Don't Judge Me By the Cover of My Book

I had just gotten some feed back from a friend who is an avid reader.  And one of the things that was interesting were the questions she'd written on post it notes, placed along the pages of my book. She had immediately asked questions about what certain things looked like, questions about the culture of my fantasy world, time line, etc. All of this within the first few pages.

Fall dammit!

Fall dammit!

There's a couple ways I can take this. A writer should always ignite questions within a reader's mind.  That's a good thing. Create interest.  Reward them by giving the answers or enough to at least spark debates like the movie Inception.

You talkin' to me?

You talkin' to me?

A writing example would be the Davinci Code. Robert Langdon always comes across plot elements that forces us, and him, to ask questions. Why was he called to aid in a murder investigation?  He's symbologist and the victim has a symbol carved into his chest. Did he do it?  We only met him when he got the call to help, so we're not sure.  But we find he didn't because of the victim's granddaughter. She confirms the French sergeant is trying to pin the crime on Langdon . Who's the nameless teacher?  We find out at the climax.

On and on with the questions but we eventually find out the answers.

So am I saying I'm just as great a writer as Dan Brown?

As I've lent my book out to people, they first see the book as not published and, therefore, not done by a professional.  They're judging the book not by it's cover but by it's credibility.  As a result, they're not patient enough to let their questions answer themselves, as I've made sure to do.

If she had placed the post it notes late in the book, then there would have been storytelling issues I would need to fix.  You can have certain questions linger on, like leaving the butler did it till the climax. Questions that either build the world or help move the plot along should be answered as we move along.

On the road again... 

On the road again... 

When we look at The Road by Cormac McCarthy, a post apocalyptic novel, we can't help but ask questions of time, setting, and what brought this disaster? But they're not answered.  I assume because McCarthy only wants the reader to focus on the father and the son, letting us be the judge of what brought the "flash". But would my friend question him?  Probably not. McCarthy is, after all, a Pulitzer Prize winning novelist.

So perception is key, and I did ask her to just read it and tell me if she enjoyed it. She said she did, but the post it notes stopped abruptly. Either her questions got answered or she didn't finish the book. Knowing her, she didn't finish. And I'm all right with that.  I can't make everybody happy. I can only make me happy.

They're all perfect

They're all perfect

And no.  I can't compare myself to Brown. How can one perfect cherry blossom be better than another?