Ecclesiastes 1:18–Knowledge=Sorrow



Much learning earns you much trouble. The more you know, the more you hurt. Eccl 1:18
This verse confused me. I love knowledge. I believed you can never have too much. But then, I discovered, the hard way, the more you know, the more you realize you don’t know. Then you find yourself refusing to get out of bed, refusing to remove the covers from off your head. And people get pretty sick of your moaning.
I know from experience.
Naively, I sat down a wrote a book. A wonderful book. One to be esteemed by all mankind. Well, as a humorous women’s fiction, a small fragment of womankind would love it. Crit partners read it, I reviewed it, my daughter loved it. Perfect. So I pitched it at the last writers’ conference.
I found myself with three requests for DWF, one requiring a title change, so I dutifully reviewed my manuscript and discovered, to my horror, that I learned much in the years since I created this masterpiece. The book stunk. After hiding in bed for twenty-four hours, spending the next day in tears, and consulting with others, I dusted off my grief, and re-worked it. Three weeks later, it was ready to be mailed.
I looked at old queries to serve as a cover letter. With good reason, no one wanted to take a chance on this before seeing a I couldn’t write a decent query. Using knowledge newly acquired I crafted a letter no agent could refuse–one designed for each specific agent.
Remember that on title change? My mind no longer saw either of the titles. I perfected my queries, hit send and then realized…in one paragraph I called my work DWF. In another it became On(the)Line.
A year ago I would have shrugged. Said, “No big deal.” But my knowledge has increased, and thus my sorrow. A little mistake like I made, in our competitive field, was huge. And I grieve because another year has gone down the tubes.
Furthermore, I’m reading a book that truly is great. What I sent to the three agents does not compare.
While I grieve and worry my failure, I’m glad the only thing that truly matters is God and our continual striving to be like Him. We can study, stay up late, find the greatest mentors, and there will always be more that arises that shows us just how far short we all have fallen from the glory of God.

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  1. So true, Tom. I set a goal to make a pie crust worthy of an award. Haven't yet, but I've mad a wonderful man very happy with my not pretty ones.

  2. TNeal says:

    I listened to a WPR program on baking bread the other day. A caller asked when do you know the dough needs to be kneaded. The bread expert said you learn by practice. "You will fail to get it right." But you learn from the failures (and she noted even the failures taste good–they just don't always look right). If you're failing, you're learning to get it right (no one strikes out in the dugout but they don't win games either).

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