In August, 2004, I published an article for StarCityGames.com entitled Revelations of a Magic Writer. If any of my articles have endured the test of time, it's this one, as well a follow up years later in 2011 called And On That Day.
What I'd like to do today is provide both an update for those interested, and speak about the impact of 'Revelations' ten years after it was written in my life and in other articles in Magic-dom.
Unlike most Magic articles, this article assumes that you are familiar with those. Typically, that's bad writing- -you should spend some time recapping the previous articles before moving into the article at hand. That helps to be a refresher as well as bring newer readers up to speed. But in this case, I don't feel that a simple paragraph does the story justice. I would strongly recommend reading 'Revelations.' Once you do, you'll likely dive into And On That Day with little encouragement necessary. However, in case you don't want to do that, I have placed a quick recap of my life story in an appendix at the bottom of this article. Skip past the salutations, and check it out.
When I wrote Revelations of a Magic Writer, I looked over it extensively before sending it on. I was never even sure it'd be published since it's only vaguely related to Magic. Ironically, that's why I wrote the decklist at the end--which is probably the best part of the article--a poetic deck list that follows my life. It was a late addition to give the article enough of a Magic theme to get published. That list, which has been complimented by many as a unique and moving idea (a decklist as a poem) was merely an afterthought!
Another fun fact about the article is that the editor of the website had just told me that my articles were subject to getting delayed since they were casual content which isn't timely compared to the need of a quick edit on events that just happened, such as a Pro Tour or Grand Prix result to edit and put up. A week or two later I sent him the article to publish and he felt bad. I didn't take it personally when he told me that. For almost my entire twelve year history of writing for StarCityGames, the website has had tournament writing as a key feature of the website. There were years when I was one of only two or three lonely voices on the website, like Bennie Smith and Peter Jahn. I'm okay with second billing; the mere fact that I am published weekly on a major like this enough for me. I have never gotten jaded with that. It's still an honor to serve the community with my articles and voice.
One of the great things about 'Revelations' is that SCG had a great forum available, and readers could just hit a link in the article and discuss it in a special thread. I loved the pages and pages of responses that were so warm and genuine. There were days when I would have difficulties dealing with my impending destiny, and I could just hit the forum and reread the loving comments from many around the world. Unfortunately, most of those comments are lost to the ether of the internet.
My article had a renaissance when the editor of SCG was interviewing Mark Rosewater, and he listed my own 'Revelations' as the most impactful on his own. That was something. Can you imagine how amazing it is when Mark Rosewater says something like that? Shoot, 'Revelations' isn't even that well written. I made a bunch of verbiage choices that I would clean up if I could. And On That Day is a higher quality of writing. (Although it still rambles in places, and I would edit that thang up too.) But I'm not George Lucas, and I have no intention of editing it. No worries!
But still, you can imagine the surprise I felt at hearing such a compliment. I'm just a hack. My best skill at writing Magic articles is that I can churn them out quickly, send them in long before the deadline, and with little need for editing. Now I've slowed down a bit post-Huntington's Disease. It takes me about an extra fifteen or twenty minutes to hack out an article because my typing has atrophied a bit. But other than that, everything has been fine, and my writing pace has never been better. I now spit out two articles a week and frankly, there are times when I have article ideas that I sideline because I still don't write enough columns. When I went to biweekly again here at SCG after taking the weekly gig at GM.com, I thought that six a month was my max, and now I embrace 104 a year and wonder at how I ever thought just one article a week was enough in my early days. My document entitled "Article Ideas" is about five pages long, many of which have been there for years.
How does a hack get that sort of praise? It staggered me! And I suspect many readers were equally surprised as well, so they checked out the article. Mark gave me huge praise. (In fact, when we met a few years ago for the first time, that was our first conversation.) After looking it over, more support poured in from all over the web from famous folks like Pat Chapin to many others that sent in kind thoughts. The article got a ton more press and coverage, and many more comments were added to the field (which are now, unfortunately, gone from the article as well). That's alright, they've stayed with me.
'Revelations' was one of the first articles in the professional Magic category to firmly stamp the idea of talking about our real lives and real problems. Early writers like Jamie Wakefield did it a lot back in the halcyon days of The Dojo. But writing had moved increasingly more towards an instruction manual style of simplicity. Names were interchangeable. As the internet moved to embrace the personality of social media and blogs, 'Revelations' was a more organic form of writing. In part, one of my regrets was that I didn't push myself into my SCG articles as much as I could have following it. Perhaps, if I had continued to really talk about myself in more open ways, I could have really enabled future writers.
Three years ago I penned an update called And On That Day, which was a strong follow up, and it discussed how HD had come up behind me and backstabbed me rather than facing me head on. I was expecting a warrior at day, rather than a thief by night.
So where am I today? Well, you probably know that I am now working in New England at a Jesuit college called Fairfield University, about an hour from New York City. We are right by the beach, and I've walked there numerous times since my arrival. I've never worked at a place with such a mission-driven purpose, and that's heartening. I'm writing this article the day before freshman move in on campus, and I remain working in residence life. I don't see too many jobs outside of higher education that I could ever do.
I still don't have a timeline. Will I be forced to retire in five years? Seven? Three? So far, it's still not that bad. Sure, there remain those sleep tossed nights because of the twitching, and I spill stuff more frequently than a clown at a circus, but I'm still able to do my job well, and the palsy isn't that bad at all. It's slow and steady, like the tortoise. And while I know the end game is un-controvertible, the early stages have been better than I hoped. I still fear death. I shouldn't, but I do. I love life. I love living. I appreciate the sun and the wind and the rain (isn't it magical when water falls from the sky?). I love the green plants and colorful flowers and changing leaves and white snow. The beach and the lake, the river and the creek.
I also love people.
I love seeing the best in them!
Folks, this life is awesome. Go out and enjoy it!
Remember: go do stuff! This life is too important to not enjoy it. Go!
Appendix - As promised, here is a quick recap of my life and the previous two articles for those interested in skipping the two articles in question:
My mother died when I was in Junior High of a genetic condition called Huntington's Disease, similar in effect to other conditions like Parkinson's. I have inherited that condition. In 'Revelations,' I discuss the future I expect to have with this disease. By the time that 'Day' was written, the disease had already begun, and I discuss what it's been like so far. That's the two articles in a nutshell, a Magic player/writer living with a demon in my genes.