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Writing Level-Up: Near Successes

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May 21st, 2010
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Yesterday, Raphael Colantonio (founder and CEO of Arkane Studios) delivered a five-minute micro-talk at the Austin IGDA. Before giving his speech, he rehearsed it in front of some of us at the office. It was a great talk. Over the years, Arkane has had its share of successes. But they’ve also experienced some gut-wrenching setbacks and have had their hearts broken over a few titles. Depending on where you’re standing and what you value, it might be easy to look at their history and call all of those negative experiences failures. But Raf doesn’t. Looking back from where Arkane is now, he believes they matter. They are part of a larger, unfolding drama that has given Arkane valuable developer ¬†experience, strengthened their resolve, and facilitated meeting some amazing people. So he calls them “Near-Successes”.

I think that’s a really healthy attitude and I think the same can hold true for writing. Went to a critique group and got your precious prose smacked around? Necessary Near Success. Had an agent tell you there’s no merit whatsoever in the genre you happen to be writing in? Necessary Near Success. Have a stack of rejection slips thick enough to stop bullets? All near successes.

From now on, every time I get a rejection in the mail I’m going to call it a “Near Success.” After all, if you look at it from a certain point of view, it’s true. You ¬†may have seen the great A Million Bad Words post before, or heard about Malcom Gladwells 10,000 hours rule. Both great ideas that say you can’t skip. You’ve got to put in the hours.

For some reason I’ve always pictured a magician pulling an infinite stream of scarves out of his mouth, pulling and pulling past all the janky, ratty rags, until he gets to the bright silk. Weird right?

Whatever you’re writing, no matter how much you beat yourself up or think it’s a total crap-a-lanche, you can’t stop. Ride it out and write it out so you can get to the good stuff.


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About Me

Ricardo Bare
Austin, Tx

Ricardo Bare is a writer and game designer living near Austin, Texas. Currently he works as a game designer for Arkane Studios, which in 2012 released Dishonored. Ricardo started his career in the games industry working on the Deus Ex series, winner of the BAFTA and numerous other Game of the Year awards.

Ricardo is the author of Jack of Hearts and Fool of Fate, the first two books in a young adult fantasy series.


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