On Ghostwriting

Write an article or a book and let someone else put their name on it for money? You filthy, STD-ridden whore! You unspeakable pustule of month-old rotten ham! You, who would sell your heart and soul, the overflowing of your emotional core to the highest bidder? Pariah!

Yeah yeah yeah. Shut up.

The pieces that I have ghostwritten are the things that I would never write for myself or read. But, you may wonder, if I don’t find the material interesting, soul-searching, or particularly fulfilling, what do I find interesting (other than getting paid *gasp*)?

The challenge.

Ghostwriting pushes me outside of my comfort zone. It forces me to play a role, to be an actor, to put in a performance using my skills to contribute to a company for fair remuneration. In other words, when I ghostwrite, I participate in what most people do between the hours of nine and five as they rush about stressed and chasing the next train or promotion or power lunch… except that I don’t have to change out of pajamas and I only do what I do every day: write.

I don’t mean this to sound like I don’t have an emotional bond to what I write; if you have read anything with my name on it, it’s clear that I do. The words to which I attach my name are important to me, they are my means of expressing myself to the world. That said, the process is more important to me than the result or what people think about it. That’s not to say I’m not flattered when readers enjoy my work; it’s indeed a wonderful thing. But, if I worked solely for the acclaim and its capacity to assuage my tender and brittle creative ego, my career and life would be one of sad, abject misery, clinging only to table scraps of praise that someone doled out over a lunch of lukewarm mozzarella sticks and the self-pity at the bottom of a keg of cheap beer.

I tend to be a realist and not look at my chosen profession as anything special or as a calling or as a gift from any higher power. It is the result of hard work and a dedication of my life towards mastery of a craft. I write to fulfill an urge within myself, to express myself and to make something with which others can possibly, potentially, identify. If I get paid for those efforts, that’s nice too. And, if those efforts involve me being complicit in an act of word-smithing subterfuge (pursued only with a written and signed agreement laying out the details of those services to be rendered, specifically forbidding subject matter I find to be morally reprehensible, bigoted, hate-inciting, or out of line with my values as human being) with those who wish to use my services, then so be it. It is a means to continue doing what I love and at the same time, provides me with a challenge that I wouldn’t otherwise give myself.

We all do what we have to do, and that, as Mr. Pig would say, is all, folks.