Turning Down Christianity Today
It is tempting to commercialize one's art, since the need for a paycheck and reputation-development are real.
But if the most beautiful, powerful things we produce are indeed a gift, as Lewis Hyde notes in The Gift, then we may need to occasionally turn down an opportunity to sell, if it means debasement of the work.
Which brings us to our story. Almost two years ago I got a very exciting email from an awesome editor at Christianity Today. "We want the article," it said. "Can you cut the piece to 1300 words?" I'm not a prima donna (much) about my writing, but I knew that to say yes to this request would mean killing the spirit of the article, excising its most beautiful parts.
Indeed, when the editor sent back a potential draft to show me how we could make it work, the beauty was gone. This was not about the editor's skill; it was about the size of the box. The beauty had to go.
Let me tell you, it was not easy to say, "I can't sell it." I needed that sale, or so it seemed. My book was about to come out. It was the first time CT had offered to buy from me. I couldn't see into the future and know there would be another CT opportunity (there was, just a few months later).
At present, the piece has made it through several approval rounds at another magazine. Who knows if they will buy it. Or the next magazine, or the next. It can take time to find a home for beauty. And if we never do, at least it is still beauty and has found a home in us.
Commercial Times Square photo by L.L. Barkat. Post is for Chapter 8 of Hyde's The Gift.
High Calling Blogs The Gift: Work as Art