Attempt, essay, make an effort to achieve what we aspire to—or not

by | Oct 9, 2023 | Faith, Writing and Reading | 12 comments |

With the outbreak of war in Israel, an attempt at peace seems difficult if not impossible. And yet we pray, make the effort, and try. Such is the case in all we do, right?

Attempt: to essay, make an effort to achieve or complete something difficult

Last month, another rejection email showed up in my inbox. “While we are grateful for the opportunity to read this piece and appreciate your interest in our journal, it is not a good fit for us at this time,” the editor wrote. Nice attempt but no trophy.

As I’ve written previously, submitting an essay for publication is like auditioning, say for American Idol. “Will the judge like the genre, style, my voice?” you wonder. Given the volume of submissions that first, second, and third tier publications receive—hundreds even thousands—getting published can seem as likely as winning a coveted spot on national TV. With these odds, why do writers keep writing? Why do singers, dancers, and actors keep auditioning, making the attempt? Why do undrafted athletes show up for walk-on tryouts? Just that. The Try. Even if you win the trophy, that coveted spot, all that means is: more try. And having another crack at the try is where the fun is. For me, it’s working on my craft then submitting for the trophy. And in December 2022, it happened.

“I appreciate your submission of Wisdom Builds Her House, and I’m excited to let you know that we’re interested in publishing your book under Brandylane Publishers/Belle Isle Books’ cooperative program. Congratulations! We receive hundreds of submissions each year, but we select only 40-50 books a year for publication.”

My book is due out next summer; here is the book cover.

Attempt: an act of trying to achieve something we aspire to

At church, I have the honor of reading scripture, playing flute with the Worship Team, singing with the choir, teaching Sunday School, and serving on the Women’s Ministry team. In all endeavors, I do pretty well, but not always—and that’s a good thing.

From an essay-lecture written by Jorge Luis Borges titled “Blindness.” “Everything that happens, including humiliations, embarrassments, misfortunes, all have been given like clay, like material for one’s art. One must accept it. For this reason I speak in a poem of the ancient food of heroes: humiliation, unhappiness, discord. Those things are given to us to transform, so that we may make from the miserable circumstances of our lives things that are eternal, or aspire to be so.”

When the Spirit breathes life into us, we receive gifts to use for a purpose. The act of suffering humiliating failures and growing from them is all part of our attempt to pass through the narrow gate.

Attempt: to try—or not

But here’s the irony. If we try to hang on to our own selfish ways of living and doing things, we lose. If we give it away, we preserve or keep it. And if we attempt to hang on to and maintain control of our life, we lose it.

Here’s what Luke recorded about Jesus’ lesson: Whoever tries to keep their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life will preserve it. Luke 17:33 NIV

The gospel teaches me that I do not own my self. God lends us to ourselves. Then we must return everything to our Creator. No attempt, no try, just the truth.

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  1. Sandra K Stein

    Very appealing book cover. May it draw many readers.

    • Carole Duff

      Thank you! My hope is to encourage others to take the journey I did.

  2. Sarah Myers

    Love the Borges quote. Love your post!

    • Carole Duff

      Thank you, my friend!

      • E. Adams Wright

        Congratulations, Carol, and thank you for your post. Thanks especially for reminding me of this truth, “The gospel teaches me that I do not own my self. God lends us to ourselves. Then we must return everything to our Creator.” Steward, not owner.

        • Carole Duff

          Steward, not owner. Amen.

  3. Gary Fultz

    Good book title, I’m sure the publishers found some good nuggets through out.
    WE truly do get when we give unless we give to get.

    • Carole Duff

      Thanks, Gary! Of course, the book title is from Proverbs 9, and is the theme. Good way to put it: we get when we give unless we give to get. I’ve done both. Bless you! -C.D.

  4. Linda

    Congratulations, Carole! So exciting to be published. 🙂

    • Carole Duff

      Thank you, Linda. All for the glory of God. -C.D.

  5. bigskybuckeye

    Congratulations Carole. Your journey is filled with perseverance, and you deserve this well-intended reward for your book’s submission. I submitted a poem once for publication, but I knew it was a long shot. I received the customary rejection note, but it is all a part of my writing journey. Perhaps I will consider publishing an anthology of my very best writing. Time will tell.

    • Carole Duff

      I encourage you to pursue publication, Richard. We are teachers, now called to write and called to share. -C.D.


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