From Dissatisfaction to Inspiration

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Jason Tanz of Wired shared this, the story Peter Molyneux. The famed video game designer behind Populous and Fable, Molyneux had fallen into the fish’s belly portion of his career, but then a fake Twitter account that poked fun at his foibles inspired him to quit his job and start afresh, to become as carefree and challenging as his alter ego @PeterMolydeux.

The story intrigues, inspires, and troubles. Most troubling, and most pertinent, was Molyneux’s struggles with his own finished products and his own disappointments:

Molyneux couldn’t fault the critics. They had a point. He too considered each release something of a letdown. For Molyneux, starting work on a new project was like stepping onto a stone outcrop, looking out over a blanket of fog, and waiting for the mist to clear and reveal what was lying underneath. He couldn’t stop himself from conjuring up the most tantalizing possibilities—the equivalent of finding himself atop a mountain, a lush landscape rolling beneath him. And so every time the fog lifted, he couldn’t help but be a little disappointed. Now, at the presumed twilight of his career, it seemed as though he’d never get a chance to create a game that was worthy of his dreams.

Few of my own writings, whether poems, essays or emails, feel finished. My father, an artist of a painting sort, says his works are never complete, never quite how he imagined them.

It is frustrating to never be able to complete the story we wanted and for which we hoped. It is frustrating, but it is also a side effect of the human frame. And it is what keeps us writing, what keeps Molyneux imagining new, bizarre worlds hewn together with pixels and code, what keeps my father practicing his craft.

Do not become satisfied with your own work. Refine it until your choices are between two goods, but not greats, and then wish it Fare thee well. And then turn to your next ambition. Turn to your next challenge. And blossom in your dissatisfaction.

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