Eugene Peterson on Rejection Slips and Writing and Vocation

“My writer-crisis came when I was asked to ghostwrite some material for an individual who at the time was well known. I had been submitting articles, poems, and manuscripts to publishers for several years and getting them returned with rejection slips. The reprieve from uninterrupted rejections seemed providential. I accepted an assignment without thinking very much about what I was doing, except that I was being appreciated. I was paid well. What I wrote was published by a firm that had rejected several far better written manuscripts that I submitted under my own name. I knew then that I could continue to be published and paid for it if I continued to write this way. It would be honest and useful work. But I also knew that what I had just written, while being factual (except for attributed authorship), was not true in any living way. It was a job, not a vocation. I remembered Truman Capote’s sneer, ‘That’s not writing, it’s typing.'”

~ Eugene Peterson in Under The Unpredictable Plant p. 56 (Wm. B. Eerdmans)

1 thought on “Eugene Peterson on Rejection Slips and Writing and Vocation

  1. Mr. Capote’s assessment of Mr. Kerouac as I remember. The original ream of “On the Road” which he typed out over the course of 3 or 4 days on amphetamine was auctioned off not too long ago for some ungodly sum. Which reminds me, the term “beat” (beatnik) which Jack coined occured to him in a church in France looking at a statue of Our Lady (beatifique).

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