Lightsaber Nunchucks

Writing a blog about writing a book is difficult to keep interesting at the best of times. When progress on aforementioned book has ground to a halt in recent months then it’s even harder. The noise of Christmas and New Year has now faded in the rear view mirror and I’ve suddenly became very much aware that it was one year ago since I started writing the basic outline and notes for the story. The actual task of putting words on the page was started in March and I made fairly steady progress over the summer months. Then in October, once the nights had started drawing in, I reached a part of the story in which the whole thing seemed to suddenly run out of steam. It’s been hard picking back up after that and I’ve constantly been saying to myself that I’ll return to it. That return keeps getting shoved back.

Reading what I have so far confirms the worst fear that it’s 30,000 words of utter nonsense. It’s a combination of small town Scotland, aliens, child abduction and people not quite seeming what they are. If that sounds like it shouldn’t hang together well then rest assured that at this current moment you are indeed correct. The overwhelming feeling is that even if I do charge forward and reach the end then the editing job to get it anywhere near watertight at the end is massive.

I seem to have spent the first two weeks of 2018 taking up other projects separate from the book which seems like a subliminal effort to avoid actually doing anything about the thing. I’ll write about video games over on Dragon In The Castle and I’ve had the mad notion to start a printed games fanzine. I’m also still involved in the pro wrestling podcast called Conquistabores. I’ve also had the pleasure of being invited up to Edinburgh on a fairly regular basis to talk about Doctor Who on another podcast called The Polis Box.

These things are all great fun and I look forward to participating in them. The strange thing is that I’m struggling most with the one that I’m solely responsible for. It seems just that little bit uphill at the moment and the hope is that I find a thread sometimes soon and carry on. I have a feeling that once I hit a rich vein then it’ll become far easier.


Thank You Eddie

All writers have faced some kind of struggle as they face getting book, script, poem, play or comic off the ground. The process of making an idea in the head into something an audience can see, read or hear is littered with many obstacles. As the saying goes, if it were easy then everybody would do it.

If you haven’t been reading this blog for long then you might be unaware of a couple of details. Firstly, I am not a professional writer. At no point have I made a dime out of writing despite that being the aim for the future. I have written a short film that was shown in festivals around Europe, I have written feature film scripts that were never picked up and I have penned a play that was performed locally. At no point during any of this has any cash come my way.  I am not after multi millions pouring into the account every month. I have no desire to drive a flash car or have a swimming pool. If I could make a comfortable living just making stuff up with words then I’d be a happy man. Currently though I’m in the position when the day job of working in an opticians gains me a pay cheque at the end of the month. Writing is, at this moment in time, something I do for kicks.

On very odd occasions I often think about just jacking in this whole process of piling up word counts and just get on with ‘real life’. A certain sensation of all this being a monumental waste of time starts eating at me.

Then I usually get something brought to my attention that completely reminds me of why I’m still trying to do this. My interest in professional wrestling meant that this video of Eddie Dennis popped up in my timeline when it was released onto the internet a couple of weeks back. Until then Eddie was a headteacher for the most part and a part time wrestler. Now he’s making the brave decision to quit teaching and become a wrestler full time.

Here’s the video in full so you can see what it’s all about.

I have to admit that I haven’t seen Eddie Dennis wrestle (although I’m looking to change that soon) but I instantly found a common theme in this video. Even if you have no interest in wrestling at all the story of one man leaving behind his usual job for a shot at something he’s been dreaming about for years still has an impact.

So a quick thank you to Eddie Dennis. You might not have realised it but a wrestler from Wales has certainly provided help and inspiration to a writer from the South of Scotland.

You can actually read all about Eddie’s journey over on his own WordPress blog right here.

I wish him the very best of luck.

Calling Orlando

There was a moment today when I came to the sudden realisation that no work on the book will be done for the next few days. Anybody new to this blog may not know that I’m a huge wrestling fan. This weekend Wrestlemania 33 is taking place in Orlando, Florida. Before that the WWE’s development brand NXT held thier usual Saturday night show. There are also matches from British promotions Progress and Insane Championship Wrestling. In short, there will be a ton of wrestling for me to watch.

Added to this there’s a record coming up for the wrestling podcast I’m involved in. We review old shows from the glory days and this time around we’re going back to the 1992 Royal Rumble. I have a grand laugh making them.

So yeah, the book might have to wait a few days.

Apart From The Human

Build a house, tear it down and improve it. You might keep the sink.

Essentially that’s what happens when you go from the first draft up to the second. I’ve say with Order For Burning and written some long and extensive notes on what’s gone wrong. as it turns out they’re fairly plentiful. The main one being that this is a film about religion’s grip on people and what it will make them do. In a strange twist I’ve neglected to include anybody who represents faith. Sure Jack, our witch hunter, will bang his Bible but he’s twisted from the very beginning. My aim is to introduce a minister character who is friends with the local community. Being forced to hunt down those close to him on the commands of Jack will be something to turn the story on.

The other major thing to consider is the question of Jack living or dying at the end. In this current draft he prays after the burning and walks off into the sunset. It feels very wrong for this man who has essentially manipulated a whole town to suit his own ends gets away with it. David, the husband of Agnes, has vanished at this point as Jack burns down his farmhouse. I’m playing with the idea of having David reappear out of nowhere and slay Jack. It’s David’s change to get back at the man who destroyed his home and killed his wife.In the meantime I’ve been writing some more (and recording some more) thoughts about wrestling. It’s felt good to sit and write all this down. For those interested my stuff can be found over on

You can also listen to the podcast from the banner in the upper part of the screen. We recorded a new episode about Summerslam 2002 the other night so that should be up there in the near future.

A Case Of Strange Timing

Sometimes celebrities die when you haven’t heard from them in a while. Perhaps they’ve left the limelight and, as a result, slipped to the back of your mind. You receive the news of their passing with a raised eyebrow and a thought of ‘oh man, he was in that thing all those years ago’. Other people die at the prime of their careers, cut off without having a chance to show the world their best. The passing of wrestling legend The Ultimate Warrior this morning at the age of 54 is somehow a little bit of both.

At the age of 11 I knew nothing of steroid scandals and why they were a bad thing. All I knew is that wrestling was a new world, a live action cartoon full of bad guys and good guys doing battle. With Wrestlemania 8 in 1992 being my first of the WWF’s annual supercards I had no idea who The Ultimate Warrior was when he made his return. Tearing down the aisle to save Hulk Hogan from a battering dished out by Sid Justice and Papa Shango, he appeared a ball of muscle, facepaint and hair. He quickly tore into both before posing in the ring with Hogan and fireworks went off in the background. I had to pick up my jaw off the living room carpet, rewind the VHS tape and watch again. My favourites at that time in wrestling were The Legion of Doom and The Ultimate Warrior.

Hogan and Warrior

Of course at that age we know nothing of backstage struggles. This mystical entity vanished again from the company again in November of that year only to return again in 1996 to face the man who is now firmly in the management structure of WWE, Triple H, in one of the shortest Wrestlemania matches ever. He stuck around for a few months before going again. Looking back there were plenty of stories about disputed pay cheques and attitude problems. The WWE even saw fit during 2005 to release an entire DVD box set trashing the guy by saying he was money hungry, couldn’t work and expected everybody else to do the heavy lifting in matches. Three discs were spent running Warrior down which in retrospect seems crazy a company would spend the time, energy and money doing that to an ex-employee.

Not that Warrior himself was a saint, in his non-wrestling days he toured college lecture halls of America with views that were racist and homophobic including his infamous ‘queering doesn’t make the world work’ line. If there are any other homophobes who rose to fame by flexing their muscles on TV whilst wearing trunks then please let me know. He seemed to want to use the fame he had gained through wrestling to attempt to warn the youth of America about something they were never threatened by in the first place. There’s plenty of ex-wrestlers who hate the industry they made their name in, many of whom will sound off about their views if given a forum, but Warrior seemed the highest profile. To be honest though, I doubt many would have been thinking ‘I’m going to hate the gays because the man with the facepaint told me to’.

Any kind of reconciliation into the WWE seemed impossible up until Wrestlemania XXX this past weekend in which Warrior accepted the invitation to take his place in the WWE Hall Of Fame alongside names such as Hulk Hogan, Steve Austin, Andre The Giant and Ric Flair. The theme of this year’s Hall Of Fame seemed to be redemption as it featured not only Warrior but Jake ‘The Snake’ Roberts and Razor Ramon as well who have both had drug and alcohol battles in the past and have turned their lives around in dramatic fashion in the last two years.

Not only did Warrior take to the stage at Wrestlemania itself but also on the next Monday Night Raw in which he said the following…


“No WWE talent becomes a legend on their own. Every man’s heart one day beats its final beat. His lungs breathe their final breath. And if what that man did in his life what makes the blood pulse through the body of others and makes them bleed deeper and something larger than life then his essence, his spirit, will be immortalized. By the story tellers, by the loyalty, by the memory of those who honor him and make the running the man did live forever. You, you, you, you, you, you are the legend makers of Ultimate Warrior. In the back I see many potential legends. Some of them with warrior spirits. And you will do the same for them. You will decide if they lived with the passion and intensity. So much so that you will tell your stories and you will make them legends, as well. I am The Ultimate Warrior. You are the Ultimate Warrior fans and the spirit of Ultimate Warrior will run forever.”

A day later he collapsed whilst walking back to his car and was pronounced dead in the hospital not long after. Those words suddenly go from words of advice to younger wrestlers in the industry to something beyond that. It seems like a call to everybody, no matter what you do in life, to do something that matters and that lasts when you’re gone. It seems like a man reading his own eulogy, it’s impossible to shake the idea that he knew something was up and this was his last chance.

The timing of his death is incredible. It was a mere two days after Wrestlemania 30 and five days from me being involved in a podcast talking about him. I’m often baffled as to why we have this outpouring of grief when a celebrity dies which results in messages saying how brilliant they were. I always think to myself why we don’t bother doing this when people are still with us. We’re all usually too busy attempting to bring people down. Warrior managed to see over the weekend how many people had loved what he did during his wrestling career. At least he left us knowing that.

Faces and Heels

Imagine the scene.

This weekend, as thousands of people file out of the door of cinemas all over the country having seen Dark Knight Rises, conversations start about the movie itself. People are impressed with the story, the effects, the costumes, the soundtrack and the all round scale of the thing. Plenty smiles on plenty faces. Then one brave soul pipes up with “You all might have enjoyed it but you do know that the fight scenes are staged and Batman isn’t real right?”. There’s a moment of stunned silence as the rest of the known universe as everybody prepares to punch him in the jaw. There’s no accusations of fakery in movies, nobody says that a movie isn’t worth any emotional investment because it isn’t real. Pro Wrestling doesn’t get that privilege.

Ever since the day in 1992 when a friend of the family got that new fangled Sky TV thing and taped me the Royal Rumble pay-per-view saying ‘It seems to be what all the kids are into these days’ I have been hooked on Pro Wrestling. I loved the loud music, I loved the different characters who walked down that aisle towards the ring and I loved the action itself. Plenty people had told me it was ‘fake’ and ‘over the top’ but I soon worked out that, like any form of entertainment, the best results are when you just let go and enjoy what you’re watching. For those not in the know, the Royal Rumble match itself starts off with two wrestlers and every two minutes another one joins the fray. The only way to be eliminated is to be thrown over the top rope and have both feet hit the floor. It’s last man standing. The 1992 Royal Rumble is infamous among fans for being the one in which the legendary Ric Flair lasted for nigh on the full match and won.

I started watching more and more wrestling. I’d go from the World Wrestling Federation to World Championship Wrestling, I then took on some Extreme Championship Wrestling and then onto some Japanese action from All Japan and New Japan. I’d also watch Lucha Libre from Mexico if it was on. During this time I’d usually get the same reaction from non-wrestling fans.

“You know it’s fake right?”

‘Fake’ has always been the wrong word to use to describe wrestling, it’s an insult to those who perform each night. It infers that it’s completely risk free and without injury if it all goes wrong. It’s true to say results are predetermined, winners are chosen beforehand to suit the storyline, but then isn’t that true with any form of entertainment? Stuntmen performing a fight scene in a movie get as many takes as they need to get it right, wrestlers have to make it look convincing in front of a live audience whilst bringing no harm to their opponent. It’s an art form many do but even fewer do well. Factor in the need for athleticism and the need for the ability to tell a good story to an audience and you’d have a better appreciation for pro wrestling.

In Britain we still have the memory of pro wrestling being the kind of stuff they used to show on World of Sport back in the 70’s. It was fat men rolling around in the middle of the ring, grannies getting worked up in the front row and all this taking place in a bingo hall. There’s an inbuilt sense within us that those dastardly Americans took our great institution and messed it around by actually applying production values to it and making it suitable for TV. There’s a line of thinking that it’s overblown, it’s out of hand and that there’s no point in watching two people ‘pretend to have a fight’. If you’re in this way of thinking then I’d say you’re approaching it wrong. If you watch pro wrestling whilst trying to view it as a competitive sport then it’ll never work for you. Take a step back and look at it as high performance, physical theatre. Allow yourself to be taken in by the storylines and then admire the skill of these guys who can use this environment to tell you a tale that in some cases has been building for months. I’m serious when I say if some of this was being done on stages in a theatre then it would be praised as high art.

It’s tough to pluck an example of this out of context and show without all the build up but some matches do stand very much on their own sometimes. One of the most recent examples was The Undertaker vs Shawn Michaels from Wrestlemania 25. Both of these men, at this stage, had around 45 years of experience combined and it showed. If you have 45 minutes spare and want to see Pro Wrestling at its finest then click play below.

But why bring up pro wrestling in a blog that’s supposed to be about writing? It’s mainly because there’s a few parallels between script writing and wrestling that I’ve usually gone by. Bearing in mind that part of the lifeblood of wrestling is getting and audiences attention and keeping it, putting them through twists and turns, then you can see why some of the rules can apply quite easily. Wrestling features both good guy (Faces) and bad guys (Heels) and these roles have to be clearly defined. It’s common knowledge in the industry that the best heels are those who, no matter how despicable their actions, believe themselves to be right. There’s also a saying about how a conflict will only be as good as it’s weakest half essentially meaning that nobody will tune in if they think that one side will definitely win. These are all tips I usually try to carry through to any of my writing, especially with the emphasis of great drama being all about conflict.

There’s also the small matter that wrestling is my ‘go to’ thing if I ever get stuck whilst writing. I usually turn to Youtube, select a random match and then return ready to write more after watching it. Most of the time this snaps me out of whatever stupor I was in before even if I have no idea why it works out that way.