Having just watched a special about Linda Ronstadt, I am inspired and saddened by her story. She spent a long career following her dreams, creating powerful music, and leaving a major impact on the music industry. Now she is retired, unable to sing because of a debilitating illness. Regardless of how you may feel about her politics, singing voice, or music, she created a huge library of musical masterpieces.

As I continue working on my next book, her story is close to my heart as one who wants to create something that is exceptional. If I think of the greatest books that have been written, there is a very long list to consider. It’s likely that none of the authors responsible for these books set out to write epic literature but that doesn’t change my intention.

Is it right to aspire to greatness? Does anyone aspire to mediocrity? My subject matter is of tremendous importance – it is the Holocaust, with its devastation and immense loss. But I continue to aspire to writing a work that is consistent with the significance of the subject. With that as a starting point, how does the desire for a great book impact its writing?

This is not a question easily answered. One answer is to write it as I ordinarily do, with the hope that it becomes a truly wonderful work. Another is to invest all of my heart and talent into its creation. Another, seriously dismal response is to do my best and hope that it flies, with the realization that the percentage of books that achieve the status of landmarks is extremely low.

Ultimately, it all amounts to writing what I do and publishing, with the conviction that I have done my best and have achieved my objective of honoring the subject matter. My hope is that my readers are informed and enhanced by the work that I have done. More importantly, my goal has always been to provide a history that is a learning tool, to delineate what was done with the reminder that we must never forget the tragedies of the Holocaust so as to make it possible for them to be repeated.

Beyond that, I suppose that I have lived up to my expectations by teaching and memorializing. The satisfaction of that goal must constitute greatness – that I have spent the time and heart in listening to my heart while telling a vitally crucial story. Shalom.

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