Posts Tagged ‘mma’

On occasion, I experience epiphanies while I am writing fiction that I realize applies equally to “real life”, and sometimes moreso.

In this case, I sat and stared inward while trying to “get into the head” of the character from whose point of view I am wanting to experience the scene unfolding. If we had an omniscient point of view, the highest level, an essential “god over the prose”, we could just tell everything that happens, describe all points of view, convey all experiences all at once. I prefer to see things through one set of eyes. Therefore, I can only describe what that particular character is seeing, observing, feeling, sensing. What he’s guessing, too. I can only describe the scene from what he actually can KNOW.

Now, in fiction, creating assumptions and then reacting on those assumptions (especially when they are incorrect, is FABULOUS for creating misunderstandings and conflicts that complicate the characters and the story). In that sense, it’s fun.

In real life? Not so much.

Take, for example, the politically-correct “Hyphenated-American”-ism we seem to be burdened with in the day and age of this country. Instead of being able to state our observations—“she was black,” or “he was white”[1], which is closer to the truth of being what we see—we have to assume, to jump to a conclusion. Often, those conclusions are quite incorrect.

If I asked you to pick out the “African-American” from the two photographs below, if you are into using the politically-correct vernacular, you’d probably pick the gentleman on the left. You would be utterly wrong. In this case, the actual African-American is the woman on the right. Yes, she’s white, but was born in Africa and holds dual-citizenship between the US and South Africa.[2]

Anderson_Silva-12578.jpgCharlizeTheronMadMaxPressConfCannes.jpg

So what about the man on the left? He happens to be Brazilian. One could also argue that he’s American because Brazil is in South America, but that’s getting ridiculously technical. He happens to be Anderson “the Spider” Silva.[3]

Another example is from personal experience. When I was in college forever ago, I met a young lady who was an exchange student from South Africa. She’d never be recognized as South African with her pale skin, freckles and red hair. Another student despised being mis-identified as “African-American” because he just happened to have a lot more melanin than some other human beings—he was African. Period. I have even met a young man who was very pale, with red hair and freckles who could easily have passed for white, except he was actually”African-American” by the presumptive standards.

The point of the exercise is that we apply assumptions in place of actual skills of observation. If we describe him as black or her as white, we’d paint an accurate picture of what we see. Police are trained to not make assumptions about ANYTHING (“a material that appeared to be blood”), as it could later taint the prosecution of the case.

It’s also ridiculous for having people jump through mental hoops having to describe someone else by guessing the “hyphen-du-jour”. Paraphrasing the Reverend Doctor Martin Luther King, whose wisdom practically slaps us in our faces, said it best: “Judge a man by his character and not by the color of his skin.” Skin and race, let’s face it, are just basic descriptors, because the story really IS about the individual, not their hair color, eye color, the shape of their nose or eyes.

Hyphenation doesn’t automatically attribute a culture either. Heck, Africa is a humongous continent that encapsulates thousands of specific ethnic groups and probably just as many, if not more, cultures. The Masai warriors are very different from the Bedouins but they  When we speak of Asian influences, it includes the Middle East (Southeast Asia), who are not Japanese who are not Philippines, yet they could all be called Asian… That first factor before the hyphen only identifies a (mostly guessed) genetic history, and some of us have bloodlines so intermingled that to point out one of those aspects is just stereotyping. We CAN be more than one, happily and proudly, coexisting, you know. Hyphenation dilutes that. The individual—the strong individual, anyway—creates his own story out of his own experiences, heritage and genetics, not simply by latching onto someone else’s laurels and calling it a day. Think of it like building a house. It’s wonderful to have a good foundation to build on, but why just decorate someone else’s house when the good Lord gave you the tools to construct something wonderfully unique.

When I meet someone, and want to get to know them, I want to know THEM. I don’t about their skin color to begin with, and couldn’t care less after I’ve learned who they are. That cannot be distilled into their melanin count, or even their family’s history. It is what they have done, are doing and will do that makes that individual worth knowing. Awesome people (and, let’s face it, assholes) come in all shapes, sizes and colors, so why worry about those merely physical traits?

Let’s just dispense with the hyphenation altogether—it’s divisive rather than inclusive, a lazy cop-out of slapping on a label instead of defining an individual. It would be like me describing my faith as a “German-Christian.” It’s just “Christian,”[4] please and thank you. So how about we all just call ourselves “Americans” already, and leave the hyphens out of it.

 

[1] Yes, we can quite clearly argue that “white” and “black” are inaccurate too. Technically, I am a VERY pale mottled, freckled pink. My oldest and dearest friend from my Navy days just happens to be a lovely shade of chocolate brown (you know who I’m talking about). But at least it’s not making an ridiculous assumption.

[2] That, of course, is the gorgeous Charlize Theron, who played Furiosa in Mad Max:Fury Road and makes me jealous that, not only does she look better bald than I do with hair, she also got to be in a Post-Apoc movie with Tom Hardy. Not just any PA movie, either. A Mad Max movie.

[3] And he’s an absolutely amazing mixed-martial artist who holds the record for the longest undefeated streak until he was beaten by Chris Weidman during UFC 162 (and unfortunately again in UFC 168, if memory serves). He’s a figurative-artist’s dream and sports some crazy flexibility.

[4] Which is a whole different argument, splintering down into specific aspects of beliefs. I believe in Jesus as the Son of God and my Lord and Savior. Period. Everything else is just details.

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Two weeks ago I brought up several stories which I call my favorites, and that naturally brought me to the idea of influence. You hear the phrases bandied about often by any creative types–“I consider such-and-such my greatest influence”, as in “As a composer, I find Mozart and John Williams to be my greatest influences” for an example, or directors cite earlier movies that formed their interest in the silver screen.

Certainly, as a writer, I count many, many authors and stories among my influences. All writers generally do–after all, that initial exposure to tales that transport us to other worlds or realities far from our own personal experiences engender the desire in some readers to craft our own. Fredrik Pohl, Harlan Ellison, Harry Harrison, John Haldeman, Doyle, Tolkien, Lewis, Shakespeare etc. all count high on my list of literary inspirations.

But… what about other influences, such as music? Take my first example, with music above. I frequently listen to music while writing, matching the mood/tone with whatever I am trying to write. Umbra (and all of its previous iterations) came flying from my fingertips with an ample dose of Alice in Chains, early Nine Inch Nails and Soundgarden pounding in my ears. For my darker fantasy stories like “The Falconer and the Wolf“, one of my favorite bands to get me in the right atmosphere is Dead Can Dance. When sketching notes for The Light of Liberty, I turned to Barry Phillips and his version of “The World Turned Upside Down” along with other American Colonial period tunes.

Are there any more? Of course there are. Many people have incorporated their likes and hobbies into their writing. Some cozy mysteries, for example, are based around knitting. My character Ennid the Havoc and his escapades are influenced by my love of MMA (that’s Mixed Martial Arts for those not yet initiated into its primal awesomeness). My interest in genetics features heavily in Clones are People Two. Even if the things we like aren’t at the forfront, we sometimes insert it in small ways. I love goats (Casey, from Umbra), I think rhinos are awesome and I smith silver (both of which will appear in The Opal Necklace, release date TBD) and I’ve an interest in raptors and falconry.

It’s all very simple–EVERYTHING can be an influence on our creativity, and EVERYTHING should be. It’s from these somewhat disparate ideas and influences that some of our richest “juices” flow.

 

 

Since the dawn of my cognizance, I’ve heard the phrase uttered over and over “write what you know”. (To be fair, I’ve read it often enough too.) I’m here to tell you today that if you write, don’t just write what you know. I doubt many people would want to read an chapter-long exposition on how to repair the air-conditioning and pressurization systems of Naval aircraft, with all the nuts and bolts (literally). Instead, I implore you to write what you love. That passion will sneak its way into your work, and the words on the page (electrons on the screen, if you’ve gone digital) exude it in visceral ways the reader unconsciously picks up on. Insert your own fears into your work, and the reader can’t help but feel that anxiety.

Anyone who has read my anthologies and my longer works may be able to pick up on things I’ve inserted because I love them, or am fascinated by them. Animals are a near constant, either as main characters, sidekicks, pets or just there as local flavor. Casey, K’zirra, the wolf, Sharza* and a few others. I am also intensely interested in classical Roman History, the ethics of cloning, eschatology, mixed martial arts and, of course, nearly anything post-apocalyptic. People who love these things may be attracted to my work, if not for the storyline (initially) then for the inclusion of those elements in fiction they love to see and read about. In that same vein, writing my own fears into my work us in some ways very cathartic, as I can help myself by using the process of figuring how the character is going to cope or overcome. (Dear Lord , are they ever so much more courageous than I am! But I’m glad I don’t have half the problems I throw at my poor characters.)

So, don’t worry about being a hack, don’t try to copy someone else’s style, don’t just write “what you know” or you’ll come out as a dreaded expositor. Write what you love and the passion will flow.

* Who is Sharza, you wonder? She’s in The Opal Necklace, a novel which should be complete and released sometime early next year. What is she? Well, you’ll have to wait and read.

I find most sports boring, if not downright abhorrent (people shell out insane funds to watch other people make millions of dollars playing a game).

But… I have a love affair with MMA.

The one thing I truly picked up and retained from my husband, even after the divorce, was an appreciation fighting with the hands and feet using a combination of the bazillion varieties. There’s something very primal and very stirring about watching these sportsman throw down with each other

Very little expensive gear is involved (thin gloves to protect the knuckles, occasional shin guards, a mouth guard for those teeth) and therefore little to stand in the way of every punch and kick thrown (known in the industry as ‘strikes’).  People get hurt.  All of the time.  I was watching during the infamous Silva vs. Weidman rematch -UFC 168, for the belt- when Weidman leg-checked Silva’s strike and it sheared Silva’s tibia. Everyone at the restaurant that night got to see the 18 million replays from EVERY angle showing Anderson Silva’s leg wobbling like it belonged to a rubber doll. I swear, 18 million. Train wreck, folks. Horrifying, but you can’t look away.

One of the other reasons I love MMA are the many professionals throughout. I don’t mean professional as in ‘getting paid’ but in ‘I’m going to pummel your ass into a thin red paste, but as soon as that buzzer goes off, I’m going to shake your hand and congratulate you on a good fight’ kind of professional.  What goes on in the Octagon stays in the Octagon. Clay Guida is one of my faves for this reason, and he would definitely be one of the ones I would wish to hang out with. (Some on the other hand, like Nick Diaz, Jason Miller and War Machine are pricks who, inside and outside, either antagonized one another or committed heinous crimes.  Not cool for the sport guys.  Not cool at all.)  I love (to hate) Chael Sonnen only because he’s the sport’s version of the fisherman with tall tales. Instead of letting his own considerable skills speak for themselves (he was one of the few to give the then-undefeated Anderson Silva a run for his money), he goes around touting himself as the actual champion because he almost brought “The Spider” down. (That part is great, too. They all have nicknames.)  Watching Sonnen fight is always a pleasure, because either I get to see him use his amazing fighting prowess and take his opponent down, or I get to watch someone kick his ass.

My other pet peeve is when they brought two women into the fighting (remaining nameless here, as they do not need the publicity).  The idiot who arranged the fights and the producers played up the Reality-TV bullshit drama of it both of as catty bitches who were gonna “kick each others’ ass” truly soured the sport.  Leave that petty crap on Jerry Springer where it belongs.  Now that this TUF crap is out, there are COMPLETELY taking the sport in the wrong direction, selling it on the sex angle instead of a true exposition and merit of their skills.  It will become a farce just as much as women gladiators (the “gladiatrix“) were in Roman times.  Cheap amusement at the expense of the women involved, all the while trying to sell them as legitimate.  It is a true shame, because a lot of the women kick serious ass, but unfortunately the size of their attitudes or how they look in bikinis will completely override any fighting prowess.  Spectacle.

I don’t go to watch all of the fights; that would get far too pricey and I would always be up past my bedtime.  I pick and choose the matches with my faves and occasionally, if none of my guys are going to show up on the card for awhile, I’ll check out some new and interesting faces.

The bottom line is, my interests inform my writing – sometimes a lot, sometimes just a little, but on occasion, the interest itself gives me an idea that Just. Won’t. Leave. Me. Alone.  And so, I must write, in order to get it out there.  And when that idea was Ennid the Havoc, he kept locking me up in a rear naked choke, and I finally tapped out and gave him his stories.

Oh, and Joe Rogan… shut up!

 

A little background information:

Royce Gracie essentially started the UFC as a coming-out party for his new style of fighting, Brazilian Ju-Jitsu, and it’s been gaining even more momentum.

The top UFC fighter only makes around $1 million a year, and that includes all of the product endorsements.

The octagon was used to differentiate it from all the other martial sports out there, to introduce it as something new and truly unique.

So I recently had the question posed regarding my inspiration. Now I could take the shortcut and say that so many things inspire me that I can’t list them all. This is partially true – one, because if I sat and listed all those things, I would be wasting time better sort writing and two, I do mind-mapping when looking for ideas, and it hardy looks like a list by the time I’m done with it. Heck, sometimes it doesn’t seem useful at all, the ideas being very disparate ones. Occasionally, though, some of those weird things start tying themselves together in a rather novel (pun intended) fashion. The latest, as an example: (okay, not necessarily the latest, since “he” has been bothering me for a few years) I like fantasy stories, I love Monty Python, I love the video game Diablo (since the first one, and no, I am not a milkmaid), I love MMA. How could these come together? Ennid is how. Years ago I came up with an idea for a Diablo-based story (can’t even call it fan fiction since it never got beyond the idea) but it faltered and fell back into the idea box. Years later, I get hooked on watching UFC (except for Joe Rogan. Cannot stand that guy, and Dana White should just find someone else for Goldberg to flirt with). One if the things I simply love about MMA fights is that, more often than not, I get to witness a brutal, primal beatdown between two alpha males who look like they’re about ready to kill each other, but as soon as it’s over, they shake and hug and congratulate one another. I’d like to believe that all of them are really good guys in and out of the octagon (especially you, Clay Guida!). That inspired me to create a tough guy with a gentle heart who gets himself into trouble more often than not because he isn’t willing to take the easy way out of his problems by bashing heads in. Instead, he’s got to use his brains and heart before his brawn. And, of course, he’s a sucker for a woman in trouble, which is where most of his trouble starts. There’s a lot of story around Ennid to play with, and I think I’m going to have a lot of fun going back to his world from time to time.