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In the film Batman Begins, a theme that fascinated me was how to create an aura of superhero around the man Bruce Wayne, so he’d become the superhero Batman, so that he’d be respected, feared, left alone, taken seriously and finally, be a successful crime fighter.
I thought this is what a writer needs to do to become an international household name. Aura. Mystery. Superhero status.
How can a writer create such an energy?
Express the poetry of your soul not just privately in your novels and short fiction, but publicly. Live the poetry of your artform. Write a soulful blog. Create a gentle web presence full of pathos. Talk to people from your soul place, the same side of you that appears in the voice of your prose.
Fight ‘crime’ by keeping your finger on the pulse so that your writing reflects the most serious and pressing issues facing the world. And boy are there plenty.
People need to be awed by you, your mysterious superhero writing powers. Keep your life mysterious — not just to become a New York Times bestselling author, but because life is mysterious.
And don’t lose the magic in your writing by analyzing it to bits, tearing it to shreds and debating every little fact. Magic requires loosening the angry pedantic ego.
Two days ago, I came across a Tim O’Brien piece Telling Tails in the Atlantic Monthly. Using Batman as an example, he says writers are too worried about the ‘facts’, and lose the magic, the swirl of imagination.
When my godson/nephew Alejandro was 6, he LOVED superman. Superman lunchbox, Superman PJs, Superman comforter. I’ll never forget that little boy disembarking at Seatac and walking across the airport in a Superman cape over his Superman PJs. I wanted to run toward him, hug him, fly him around the terminal.
Later, over mac and cheese I turned to him jokingly. “Come on, be realistic, how can Superman fly? How can a man fly?” I truly wanted to see what a 6-year-old would say to that question.
He grew upset and confused. He looked at me with pained eyes. I realized what an ass I was being and backed off. Of course, Superman can fly. Of course. It’s called imagination.
We are writers. We fly.