They just use your mind and never give you credit

25 02 2011

I was once a ghost and am again.

It’s better this time around; more renumerative, too.

Before: I was a spectre in my own life, fading, unsure I was even there. It was different from despair, which was all too heavy, too real. To be a ghost was to float, untethered—sur-real.

That ghostiness was itself tethered to the despair; how could it not be, when despair so corrodes being that one is more absent than present?

But I’m not that kind of ghost today. No, the 21st century version is a job, a verb: “I ghost.”

Which is to say, of course: I ghost-write.

I don’t know that I ever thought I’d ghost, but when you put up an post in Craigslist advertising your willingness to write for someone else, well, you shouldn’t be surprised that you would be hired truly to write for (which is to say: as) someone else.

I am happy to be getting paid.

But I’m also quite happy to ghost, especially on a subject  (business) about which I care little. If I were asked to write on politics or bioethics or reproductive issues, it would be tough—perhaps not even possible—for me to pass my words off to someone else.

But business? Don’t care. Someone else has created an outline which I simply fill in. It requires work and effort and some creativity, but because it is so far away from my central concerns, I am able to treat it simply as work. I take it seriously because it’s easier for me to do a good job than if I were to scoff at the topic; I take it seriously because it’s important for me to do a good job.

If I’m going to do the work, why not do it well?

Besides, the gent for whom I’m working is nice and enthusiastic about the work and he pays me on time.  He  pushes a positive and ethical approach to the work he does, and is concerned that his recommendations have some basis in research and evidence. And while I can’t say too much about his type of business (non-disclosure agreement), I can say there is very little chance that his success is predicated on the harm of others.

Would I ghost for someone who profited from such harm?

I’d like to say No, but, honestly, if I were broke? Amazing what one can justify when one is in need.

That’s not currently an issue, and, inshallah, won’t be anytime soon. No, what I have had to justify is the ghosting itself.

How can you do that, a friend asked, friend-ily. Well, I said, it’s not about me, not my ideas, not my concern. It’s not creative—it’s technical, and simply involves a set of skills which I’ve deployed in other wage-situations. Writing may be drawn from something deep within me, but not always; as much as writing may not only express but also be a form a being, it is sometimes simply a skill, something I can do, and do well.

The writing I do here is a form of self-expression, as is my novel- and essay-writing. But ghosting? A job.

Not as exciting as haunting someone, but hey, at least it pays.



3 responses

25 02 2011

sounds fine to me you aren’t selling your voice just your technical know-how.
check out the interview with james taylor on charlie rose he gives an excellent ‘diagnosis’ of not feeling at home and how this relates to a pressure to perform which is creative work and therefor different from the expectation to perform that comes with being professional/successful.
ps I throw readings out there as suggestions, as responses of recognition, as gifts with no expectations no economies of obligation or returns on investment.

28 02 2011

I’m sure every script-polisher here in town feels the same way. Some things you do with vibrancy and passion… some you do to pay the rent. As long as you’re still doing your own writing (here, the novels, etc.) and don’t just ghost-write for others, you’ll stay awesome in my book. 🙂

28 02 2011

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