So I am reading and re-reading and re-reading some more the Lev Grossman trilogy - The Magicians, Magician King and Magician's Land. There is a part I keep re-reading, where the hero, the magnificent and geeky Quentin Makepeace Coldwater graduates from Brakebills - the real upstate NY Hogwarts - and Dean Fogg talks to the graduating class about magic. Putatively magic. Actually, maybe, I hear Grossman talking about writing.
"I have a little theory that I'd like to air here, if I may. What is it that you think makes you magicians?" More silence. Fogg was well into rhetorical-question territory now anyway. He spoke more softly. "Is it because you are intelligent? Is it because you are brave and good? Is it because you're special?
"Maybe. Who knows. But I'll tell you something: I think you're magicians because you're unhappy. A magician is strong because he feels pain. Hefeels the difference between what the world is and what he would make of it. Or what did you think that stuff in your chest was? A magician is strong because he hurts more than others. His wound is his strength.
"Most people carry that pain around inside them their whole lives, until they kill the pain by other means, or until it kills them. But you, my friends, you found another way: a way to use the pain. To burn it as fuel, for light and warmth. You have learned to break the world that has tried to break you.