The man in the arena

Okay. I’ve been meaning to post this but have been cowed for fear it would be taken poorly by critics. I think it’s time.

We, as authors, work hard in isolation. Very few will have significant success. For some, their fondest dream is that a handful of people will read their work and be moved by it, be changed in some way. Whatever our aspirations, no one but close friends and family will read our books unless we put ourselves “out there,” into the sphere of public opinion. And today that means into the wild west of social media, where anonymous demons lurk, willing and able to say whatever they like without justification or the requirement to reveal their hidden purpose. That, of course, is their right, and is the strength of social media.

But for those of us who write novels or get up on stage to perform, or start businesses, or merely find the strength to be the best parent or spouse we can be , those who know that, despite our best efforts, we are certain to be flawed though we aim for perfection, some online comments can sting. At that time, it’s essential to remind ourselves that what we do is our passion, that our motivation comes from within and cannot be tempered by others. Armed with that knowledge, we know we won’t ever give up.

So in that spirit, I post the famous words of Theodore Roosevelt, spoken at the Sorbonne in Paris, April 23, 1910.

Teddy Roosevelt“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”

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