Hey, folks. Been a few months since I dropped in … guess that makes me Wrestlecrap’s Brock Lesnar, right? Minus the chest and back tats, and propensity for tearing people’s arms off and beating them with the bloody stumps. So, not much like him at all. Guess that was a crappy analogy. I blame owls. Anyway, I wanted to give you all a status update on the RTB e-book.
It’s alive and well. Hard at work, in fact. But … it’s undergone a change in direction and format. I know those are usually dread words when it comes to gestating projects, but trust me, this is for the better. I think you’ll enjoy the change. Allow me to elaborate.
I was never entirely satisfied with the idea of an anthology e-book. It seemed obvious, and I was confident the loyal fans would be interested, but it always felt a little … I don’t know … lazy? Cheap? Not sure of the adjective, but it just never sat right to ask of you to pay hard-earned money for a compilation of new columns that could easily be parsed out on the site. A book version of RTB should be something extra special, something that isn’t just what you get on the site. An anthology felt like when a band releases a best-of and tacks on a couple new tracks to get another $16 from you. I tried a number of concepts on for size to get comfortable with the anthology concept. Updating classics as “director’s cuts” was one idea, but really, I don’t leave anything on the cutting room floor. What you get in my columns is everything I wrote for that story at the time; a director’s cut would be forcibly adding new material into gaps that don’t exist. So, I junked that idea. I tried crafting a theme to all three stories, be it just “one each from the big three” or “the big unanswered questions” or reader suggestions. None of them really root (although that last one had a firecracker of an idea supplied by the Crap’s own “Big Cheese” Paul Kraft, which will get finished and posted eventually … after the book, likely). So I sorta struggled in vain, pushing along with Paul’s one story idea … until somebody hit me up and changed the course.
Out of the blue, Neil Cathan, the man who gave RTB its most literary period (far more than I could achieve), comes to me and says he wants to make a comeback. Not forever, just a one-shot, but he has a huge idea.
And as we discuss it, we start spit-balling ideas for the associated characters who didn’t have fleshed out storylines, and a funny thing happened: we came up with so much content. Amazin amounts of content. He’d throw out his start, I’d add on something, and it grew, and grew, and grew. As Douglas Adams once put it, it sort of evolved like Hamlet’s propensity for murder; at first hesitant, then strangely enthusiastic, then stunned by the sheer scope and audicty of it all. And as it grew, he put forth a proposal: instead of it being his one-shot comeback, we co-write it as the RTB book. A single novel-length story, something completely untenable to an internet format without stretching it out over six months (at least!). Something that dwarfed the complexity of “Who Ran Over Steve Austin?” or “The Invasion” (albeit far better laid-out than the latter). A massive tome covering a full two years of WWE programming – every pay-per-view, every Raw – with no less than nine primary characters, and a Simpsons-esque cadre of supporting characters.
When he presented that idea, I just knew this was it, the solution to my dilemma. You, the loyal reader, will get your money’s worth and then some. Neil and I get to co-write something, which is a dream come true for both of us, in our own ways. RTB gets something new, fresh, different. Win-win-win.
As I write this, we’ve been having weekly chats (as our schedule allows, sometimes a couple times a week) to map out the plot threads and chart the courses for the main wrestlers and championships. It’s hard work; I had to make a color-coded spreadsheet to keep the overlaps straight. I think I’ve exhausted Excel’s native color choices, in fact, to keep all the lines from criss-crossing when we don’t want them to. But we’re almost done with the hardest part. One, maybe two more meetings to flesh out a couple more people, and we’ll be set. Then comes the writing … no clue on how long that will take. Neither of us have had a co-writing project before, so we have to get the rhythm. Once we do, I think we’ll have a better idea of the timeframe. I don’t anticipate it being done in 2014, not without a miracle … but 2015, for sure. I know, that seems a long way away, and I’ve tested patience to the extremes, no doubt. I promise, it’ll be worth it. I’d share details if I could, but I have to ape River Song on this one and shake my head while saying “spoilers!”.
Okay, one spoiler. You deserve, at least, to know the central question.
Except there are two “what if” questions at work here. And I’ll tell you both of them, and then let your imaginations go to work.
“What if John Cena’s ‘worst year ever’ really was his worst year ever?”
“What if the Dean Ambrose/Mick Foley feud wasn’t aborted?”
I look forward to the comments based on those teasers.
One more thing. A special treat. One of Neil’s personal passions is performance poetry. And one particular was taped and put up to YouTube. There’s some wrestling allegory in it, not the least of which is Neil declaring himself Stockholm poetry’s Bret Hart circa 1997. If this piques your interest, give him a watch. And maybe shoot him an email and let him know what you think. Or words of encouragement for this massive undertaking.
Because, clearly, we are insane for taking this on.