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Taking The Baton


Writing is simultaneously the easiest and greatest challenge for me. I know what I want, and I know how I want it, but my toolset it filled with sledgehammers instead of scalpels.  Like any good artist, I steal everything that I like and repurpose it as my own. Less Milton Berle, more artistic license.

This article went through almost 10,000 words of iterations and restarts. Concepts included:

  • Mimicking Trick’s final article, Are You Watching Closely?
  • Inverting the negative premise of my previous article, Five Lessons From Writing Magic
  • Sharing a brutally honest look on what I’m doing, and why I’m doing it
  • Piecing together strings of quotes to create an allegory
  • A flat, devastatingly simple statement

After all of these iterations I found the root narrative I was after:

  • I behaved differently
  • I experienced something dramatic
  • I evolved thusly

I also realized I wanted to do it without frills or pomp.

Behaving Differently

I waited for opportunity. I filled the day to day passively. Working retail and in restaurants let me do that: people, the work, came to me. My job came to me through family. My wife came to me through friends. I fulfilled assignments to succeed.

It was success by my definition. Contentment pervaded my life. And I waited. And I wasted that time despite the many opportunities I was granted.

Experiencing Something Dramatic

My grandmother died.

I lost loved ones before, but she was special. She taught me things no one else has. She taught me faith. She taught me compassion. She taught me realism. She taught me the value of work. Her final lesson was teaching me the value of time.

She taught me to act.

Her service was beautiful; it was the first time my wife saw me cry. My grandmother made the most of every moment, right up to her final. Disembodied, she embodied the cliché. I wept for moments I would never forget, and the many more I never made. She awakened my urgent mortality.

Evolving Thusly

Change frightens; habit comforts. It’s a truth under-appreciated until one encounters the other. Change affects people; people effect habits. It’s a cycle too prevalent.

I broke it.

Opportunities flowed, but I sought more. I offered more, but I asked more. They were granted without fail. Unsatisfied with myself, I coaxed my writing further. I devoured new information. I synthesized superior perspectives. I’m still unsatisfied with myself, but I stand here farther than I imaged a year ago.

I will be taking on many duties of our departing Trick at GatheringMagic.


I shared the story I wanted. I have one more to share.

I met Trick in May of 2010, at Grand Prix DC. I also met Jerry, the owner of CoolStuffInc. We shared lunch and Jerry bought; I felt oddly out of place. I was still green in Serious Fun, but Trick wanted me anyway.

I asked, “What do I write?”

He answered, “Whatever you want.”

So I did. Sometimes it was bad. Other times it was worse. But trial by fire forged new skills. I shared my knowledge on building cubes, sincerely tried Magic Online, dived into pricing out Commander decks, and spearheaded building the Community Cube. Through it all he trusted me, accepted my moments of weakness, and helped build me up to greatness.

By August this year he noticed something was wrong.

“Are you alright?”

“I’m . . . tired.”

“You seem to have a lot on your plate.”

I was drowning in editing, sticking in the quicksand of poor sleep, and restlessly engaging in media.

“What do you want?”

“I want to be a bigger part of the Magic community.”

We discussed things at Pro Tour Philadelphia. He knew where my heart and passion lied. I was too tied up, and he was well-covered. It was a miss-match, for the moment.

Story is still going.


My wife is expecting. My job is growing. My hobby is responsibility. The future roars terror. In the face of surreal change, I grin. How could I not be thrilled? I asked for things, and they were granted.

I discovered early in my relationship with Trick that he is awesome. Not a trivial awesome, but the type that penetrates any medium. It oozed and dripped from everything he touched. It stuck to everyone who reached for it wholeheartedly.

I drank his aura. It’s still a flavor I crave.

When I heard the news of Kelly’s position, I knew Trick would be perfect. His passion, commitment, and desire for Magic meant he wanted inside the gilded gates. His actions drove him to where he is headed now.

I wanted a slightly different endgame.

I love the company I work for, I love the game I play, and I love the family growing around me. The lattermost is more important than the former. My endgame was to merge the two former in a way that maximized the latter.

Got there.

Artist Austin Kleon, linked above, shared being boring as one of many tips for artists. Writing is practical and peotic. Writing is energetic and enigmatic. Writing is personal and aloof. Writing is art, and I am an artist.

And I am very boring.

Standing behind GatheringMagic is a legacy of excellence. With apologies to Trick if it’s physically untrue, he leaves big shoes to fill. Other big, empty shoes I’ve encountered are:

  • The combined shoes of Anthony Alongi, The Ferrett, and Kelly Digges
  • Life-long commitment to romantic partnership
  • Homeownership
  • Fatherhood

Aaron Forsythe told me I was filling big shoes. Our friends knew we were matched as soon as my wife and I met. We selected a home perfect for our mutual life goals. We decided to create new life in it.

GatheringMagic is something I’ve supported since I encountered it. I wished I had found it sooner. It pleases me to see how far it’s come in the time I’ve known. Trick works hard. We’ve seen it for so long it’s easy to take for granted.

The razor of fear tickles my throat, and I unleash a hearty chuckle. I’m not wondering what I got myself into, but overjoyed like a child in paint. I set so many things into motion:

The result is right here.

GatheringMagic has wild potential. There are at least six ways to mess this up, and hundreds more in pitfalls and wrong turns. I plan to build things further.

  • Enhanced news and competitive deck information
  • Community investment for high-level events
  • Theme Weeks
  • Contests
  • The overdue return of a few GM alumni
  • Open Door Policy

Many of these ideas are still in their infancy, and will mature until their due time. The last, though, is something I can clarify immediately.

I want your thoughts.

Through polls, my new email (stybs@gatheringmagic.com), and the existing social media channels, I want to get to know you. I won’t always be able to respond. I won’t always have an answer to respond with. But GatheringMagic will evolve, just as I did, just as we all do.

We will create even more amazing things together. I can’t wait to get started.

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