I think that creative people and Americans both relish the idea of untamed genius and spectacular success. These are the tropes we live by: the well-worn tale of obstacles overcome and battles won combined with the Jungian faith that all of us have within us the natural ability to make it happen. Our worst enemy is our own self-doubt, and our best weapon is fearless optimism.

The best symbol for this I know of is Pegasus. Never mind the pink-ribboned horses on textured posters in the bedrooms of nine-year-olds, Pegasus of the legend is one bad steed. He’s born of Medusa’s blood, is tamed by Bellerophon, and the duo goes about slaying monsters, most famously the Chimera. (Here’s a lovely version of the story by Nathaniel Hawthorne).

It’s an inspiring story. I don’t know how it actually plays out in my books, except for stealing the name Tanglewood from Hawthorne’s book and its sequel, but I think of it often when I think about what I want to do as a writer.

Magical thinking never leaves the writer’s temperament. I know published, successful writers who still tell hushed-voice stories about other authors who foundered on the midlist until they found an unbridled winged stallion born in the blood of their slain self-doubts and riding it off into glorious fame and fortune.

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