Archive | November, 2014

Confessions of a Ghost Writer

26 Nov
This pic has nothing to do with this post. It was just a cool show. A cool show about a ghost living in your computer that communicated via a word processor.

This pic has nothing to do with this post. It was just a cool show. A cool show about a ghost living in your computer that communicated via a word processor.

Ghost Writers are in high demand and ghost writing is a lucrative business.   Clients can ask for anything from blog posts, to essays, to full-blown novels. And people are willing to pay good money to take credit for your work.

I was a Ghost Writer for a brief period of time. Although I won’t divulge on whom I worked for or what I was asked to produce, I will say that I had a nice pocket of savings by the time I was done.

I never set out to be a Ghost Writer, it just kind of happened. People realized that I was good at writing, and that I could write about topics that I knew very little about with a little bit of research. And I could do it fast.

Eventually, conversations changed from “Hey can you help edit…” to “How much do you want to just do this for me?”. From there, the word spread and my evenings and weekends were booked.

I was on a high. I felt like I was finally winning in life and that I had a skill that was directly useable and valuable, and this was a foreign feeling for me. I was no longer that awkward Indian person that got picked last in gym class and people were surprised spoke English. I was climbing that ladder. I was a hustler and I was racking in the dough and the respect.

I was basically Jay-Z.

Basically.

Basically.

But gradually, I lost the thrill that came with hussling and being a badass. Although I felt like a genius whipping out piece after piece of stellar work, I felt a dullness in my chest. I tried to convince myself that I was not a bad person, and that all of this work was actually helping me by challenging me and making me a better writer.

BART: I thought I'd be jumping for joy the day Skinner left, but, now all I have is this weird hot feeling in the back of my head. LISA: That's guilt. You feel guilty because your stunt wound up costing a man his job. BART: Yeah, I guess it is guilt. (Close up of a spider biting the back of Bart's head.)

BART: I thought I’d be jumping for joy the day Skinner left, but, now all I have is this weird hot feeling in the back of my head.
LISA: That’s guilt. You feel guilty because your stunt wound up costing a man his job.
BART: Yeah, I guess it is guilt.
(Close up of a spider biting the back of Bart’s head.)

 

And then I got shot. Not for real, but metaphorically. I’m Jay-Z, remember? I got shot like in the 99 Problems video.

Right...there!

Right…there!

One of the first pieces I ever pimped out ended up getting published. The person I wrote it for was glowing with joy, and gave me a copy of the publication like I was Dexter and needed a trophy or something. Any millisecond of pride I felt was lost after reading my own words, months later. Reliving the flow those beautifully arranged words hurt me because it wasn’t my name under the title.

My excitement for my new found place in the world was gone and replaced with deep resentment. I wanted to scream at the top of my lungs THIS IS MY WORK, I DESERVE THE CREDIT, NOT YOU! ME ME ME! SOMEBODY HIRE ME TO WRITE AS MYSELF AND SOMEBODY CARE ABOUT WHAT I HAVE TO SAY!

After that, I tapered off the number of clients I was working for until there were none.

Ghost writing isn’t all-bad, I don’t think. Some people just don’t have the time to write, or just aren’t able to write, which is a shame because they may have something very important to say. It’s the people like this that you can really help out, if you’re looking at this business from an altruistic perspective. But then there are others who just don’t want to put in the work at all. The ones that never manage their time in order to meet a deadline, or think they can buy their way through life.

A successful Ghost Writer probably doesn’t care if their clients are in the first or second category. In the end, I just wasn’t cut out to be one of those types of people, my pride got in the way, and I was just too high up on my horse to look down.

I am an artist, damn it.

There’s a thin line between a sense of self-entitlement and knowing you can do better. Being a Ghost Writer made me see the distinction more clearly.

Yes, very much so.

Yes, very much so.