With the book complete except for the very end, writing its conclusion consumes me. When I saw Coach Miller this past week we talked about the process. This week marks the one-year anniversary of the first interview with his former players Sam Baker and Ricky Miller when the book was nothing but ideas and a few hours of stories on tape.
Miller said to me, “No matter what happens, the important thing is that when you’re sixty you won’t wake up and say to yourself, I wish I would have written that book.” Then he suggested that I read this poem by Teddy Roosevelt:
In The Arena
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;
comes up short again and again,
because there is no effort without error and shortcoming;
but who does actually strive to do the deeds;
who knows the 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.