The “Headstrong Genius Horse”

I’m (slowly) reading Julie Phillips’s excellent biography James Tiptree Jr.: The Double Life of Alice B. Sheldon (2007), and I came across this great quote from Tiptree about inspiration and motivation for aspiring writers (or any other creative person). In a letter to a friend, is this warning about the “headstrong genius horse”:

“He knows it is his destiny to make one great burning leap and carry you to shine forever among the stars. To your rightful place. He will chafe all his life at his inability to do this, at the idiotic small steps necessary even to shoulder among the earthly throng, […] the endless miserable mechanics of attaining even a modest writer’s career. Between that and the one grand soaring leap he needs the difference is always almost too much.” (74)

On the whole, it’s a fascinating biography, full of insights into Tiptree’s work. I’ve already got a few pages of quotes and extracts that I’ve jotted down, about the themes in Tiptree’s work and how her life was reflected in her writing. I’ll share those with you later. If you’re a fan of Tiptree’s work you shouldn’t miss out on this book, and if you study sci fi, particularly feminist sci fi, I highly recommend it.

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