Friday, January 23, 2009


I continue today with Thomas Carlyle’s letter to Henry Inglis, a young man 11 years his junior. Carlyle continues with the advice he had given earlier in the letter.

My earnest often-repeated advice to you, therefore, is: Persevere! Persevere! In all practical, in all intellectual excellence think no acquirement enough. Throw aside all frivolity; walk not with the world, where it is walking wrong; war ad necem [to the death] with Pride and Vanity and all forms of Self-conceit within you; be diligent in season and out of season! It depends on you, whether we are one day to have another man, or only another money-gaining and money-spending Machine.

So Carlyle tells the young Mr. Inglis not to give up. We find no end of such advice in the world. Persevere. Don’t give up. Keep going. Run the race faster, stronger, longer. Even the Apostle Paul got in on this type of advice.

Yes, in whatever endeavor we undertake, we need to do so having counted the cost, knowing what will be required of us, and persevering to the end. But what happens if the cost is too much? We are also cautioned in scripture, by the Savior himself, against beginning something we don’t have the wherewithal to finish—towers and war and such metaphors applying.

In the matter of writing, that’s where I am. Am I simply not persevering, or have I finally counted the cost and determined that I don’t have the wherewithal to finish? God, please help me to know.


Anonymous said...

Emily Dickenson published nothing officially (although her friends got of few of her poems published anonymously) during her lifetime. She wrote because her observations of the world just couldn't stay bottled up. Her poems were modern before their time, insightful in novel and fascinating ways, and inspirational to generations following her.

That's reason enough for anyone with that internal perceptive spark to keep on writing ...

David A. Todd said...

Thanks for coming by, reading, and commenting, Anonymous.

Yes, enough spark to keep on writing, but perhaps not enough to bother trying to become published.