This is the story of how I entered the arena.
I came across this quote nearly two years ago when I was editing and writing the FortyOne20 blog:
“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” (Theodore Roosevelt).
The FortyOne20 blog was always a place of analysis and critical thinking, but when I saw this quote, I felt a conviction about how critical I was being about gender portrayal in film:
“Most of the film theory classes I took in college dealt with gender on some level, but it was always from a humanist perspective. At the same time, God was dealing with me personally on His ideas about gender, and I became extremely dissatisfied with how men and women are portrayed in movies. I genuinely believe there is reason to be concerned with these portrayals.
“However, if you watch the movies I’ve made, none of them address gender issues” (Lydia Thomas).
One month after I published this post, I began work, not on a film, but on a written story. The Field tackles a theme I’m dying to see Hollywood tackle: redeemed womanhood. As in, what changes in a fallen woman’s life when she is loved unconditionally? Of course, The Field also deals with spiritual warfare, and legalism, and crises of the faith, and a number of other things, but womanhood…that’s what I went into the arena to talk about.
And I did.
But I’ve been dealing with a level of discouragement about my book. Normal stuff, I think. I get to thinking about how it’s not that great, and it could be better because it can always be better, and I don’t want to release it and not have anybody who “gets” it.
And I forget. This one is not really about readership. It’s about having written it. It’s about having gotten out of my critic’s seat and entered the arena to put up a fight for what I strongly believe in.
It’s different in the arena. I find myself less critical of others, and am able to be less critical of myself. I find myself satisfied with where I am, at this moment, knowing I am in this to grow and develop as a writer – not just to grow and develop one piece of work.
I will continue exploring gender and spiritual themes in my writer. Next time, I will do it better. The time after that will be the even better. And I will grow and grow and grow.
At least, I must keep telling myself, I am finally in the arena.