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The Passion in Writing
By Russell Sherman
I may miss Rizzo.

I certainly miss Jamie Wakefield

And I may, one day, miss Toby Wachter too. But never mistake any of the three for each other. Because John Rizzo, for better or for worse, is NOT Jamie Wakefield.

John Rizzo was a poster boy for casual magic. He was proud of his atypical decks. He frowned on people who didn’t design there own. On people who ID’d into a win. On people who weren’t, in his mind, “full” players of the game. Who didn’t do everything they could to be a part in it. Including writers. He was a rabble-rouser. He was an incredible writer, true, because his style and his topics were carefully chosen… But he wasn’t a magic writer.

Wait, don’t lynch me yet.

John Rizzo was one of the best writers online. He was accessible, fun, powerful, and interesting. You could also pick up 9/10 of his articles, and ALL of his best articles, and someone with no interest in Magic could read them and enjoy them. He gave bits of philosophy because his big message, the commandment #1 on the Rizzo bible that people are building, is PLAY THE GAME FULLY. Write, play, design. Contribute to the community, don’t just leech off of it. In whatever you do, make it yourself. You can take other people’s ideas but don’t just take their words for it. See what you can do, and do anything you can. Rizzo wanted us all to go forth, and do the minimal amount of work no more.

Jamie Wakefield wanted to play magic. He wanted to go to the pro tour. Both he and Rizzo tested with a group of elite players, but Jamie Wakefield emulated them when he could. He took his 62 card deck and cut it to 60 cards, then ID’d in order to go to the pro tour. He made it. Jamie Wakefield wanted to win. He wanted to do his best. He took decks from the net and tested them over and over against some of the best players around and developed a deck that won. Put it this way: if he had thought Secret Force couldn’t win, he wouldn’t have played it. He played it because it would win and he loved it, and in order to improve it, he would sacrifice “The Wakefield School” because he loved competitive magic. Rizzo loved the community, and Jamie loved the game. Jamie wrote about magic. About how to become a magic player. About how to enjoy the game. He was also an excellent writer, and he was a magic writer.

Rizzo’s best article, in my opinion, is “Bringing Out the Dead”. Wakefield’s was probably “All About the Dinosaurs.”

What’s the difference between the two?

Rizzo’s article is explaining about life. About how most people let it pass them by. He’s absolutely right to write it, and I’m glad to have read it.

Wakefield’s article is about the fulfillment of a particular dream. It’s about testing, building, re-building, playing, and winning with his own personal signature deck, and making the pro tour. He’s absolutely right to write it, and I’m glad to have read it. You see now?

So emulate who you like. Rizzo was not Wakefield any more than Flores is Wakefield. Or Rizzo is Flores. I’d love to hear you write, but instead of trying to emulate Wakefield or Rizzo or Hahn, why don’t you try to do the one thing all these people have in common: write about your passion.

Theron Martin (rest in peace) had a passion for metagames and wrote THE defining articles on them. And he became fairly famous for it. Zvi has a passion for analysis, of decklists and sets. He’s famous for it. You don’t see Zvi writing about sucking the marrow out of life, because it’s not his passion. Nor would Rizzo write metagame articles. Not only would they be bad, they wouldn’t be fun to write.

All the best writers love writing. If magic’s not your passion, then don’t write about magic.

And, for a final turnabout, I think we can all take something from Rizzo.

Give as much of yourself as you can, because you’ve gotta use it or lose it.

Doesn’t matter where you give it to. Doesn’t matter what your passion is or why, but get out there and build your world. You’re the one determining it.

-Russell Sherman, Goblin Lackey

Read More Articles by Russell Sherman!

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