Workin’ in a coal mine

15 10 2018

Still doing clean-up work on the main freelance project, but I am beginning to see the light!

After which I’ll be doing some ongoing work for this gent, but it shouldn’t (?) be so intense.

I do want to get back to this, if only because I miss writing in my own voice. I’m ghosting his, and he is, as I told him, a more “enthusiastic” writer than I am. While I don’t have too much trouble getting the basics of it right, I am leery of adding too much of his beloved “WOW” moves. (No, he doesn’t actually write WOW, but he does like to dial it way up.) So I send him a pale imitation of his style, and he cranks the color.

It works for both of us most of the time.

I’ve worked for him before. He’s a good guy, straightforward in dealing with any conflicts, and he pays on time. It helps tremendously that he works in a field that I care almost nothing about, so it’s easy for me to yield when there is any difference of opinion: I’m not invested in being right. I want to do good work for him, and it’s up to him to decide what that good work entails.

After all, it’s his name on the cover.

Oh, and I’m not at all conflicted about ghosting. It’s his project, his ideas, and he’s got the last word when it comes to editing. I do offer my thoughts when I think it might be useful, but mostly I’m filling in a sketch he offers. I’m a bit more than an amanuensis, but it’s easy to think of this as work I do for him, rather than my work.

I mean, I’ve worked for organizations to which I’ve contributed my words and ideas and only rarely has my name been attached to those items. That’s kind of the job: they pay me to think and to write, and they claim the output.

And, again, I’m fine with that.

But I do miss my writing, work that I claim as my own. I fell away from it before I took on this latest project, but now, having written tens of thousands of words for someone else, I’m kinda juiced to reel off a few for myself.

Get into the groove

29 04 2013

And so the ghost fades away.

It was not a great experience this time around: it seems like The Man and I kept missing what the other was saying. I don’t know if the problem was that he was insufficiently clear or that I didn’t listen well, but we never got into a good working groove.

This is too bad for a coupla’ reasons:  I like The Man and feel bad that I wasn’t as much help this time around as last. It also feels as if I failed to live up to my professional obligation to give him my best. Finally, I worry that the disappointment this time around might lead him to find another ghost the next time. Given the parlous state of my finances, losing work is a Grade-A bummer.

Eh, maybe it will work out—but you know me: I doubt it.

It’s the rhetoric of failure

17 04 2013

Ghosting is not going well.

Oh, Imma writin’ away, but apparently getting too far away from where the author wants me to go.

It seems like the directions he’s giving keep changing, which frustrates me; that I am unable to take his directions frustrates him. Oy.

He’s a good guy, and I want to give him good work; he’s also hard up against a deadline, so there’s a certain urgency to our getting this sorted. We’ll work it out.

Still, this particular ghost is tired of banging into walls.


18 03 2011

So this is new:

It wasn’t my fault.
I didn’t choose to do it; I just walked away.
Okay, ran. I ran away.
That would be part of the drama, too, which didn’t think of at the time. Stupid. It wasn’t until Irina clued me in that I even remembered.
You gotta get it out, she said. You’ll be fucking Truman forever if it stays in.
She showed me her scar.
Did it hurt?
No shit. She pulled her shirt back down. It’s, like, a part of you. An organ. Hurt like hell.
She smiled, her thin lips bunched together like the top of a velvet drawstring bag. Totally worth it.
Will you do me?
This time she laughed. Fuck no. It’s tricky, and I don’t want to kill you, you know? Her lips bunched again, and this time her eyes louvered down into slits. Don’t want to get nicked for that.
This time I laughed.
I’ll set you up. Same chick who did me.
You’ll come with?
Come on.
Okay. One condition.
You give it to me?
I wonder what kind of face I gave her, because she stared at me, hard, before putting her hand around my neck.
Don’t worry. Good cause.

Do you want to see my scar?

Don’t know what I’ll do with it; have to wait until the ghostiness passes.

We’ll see.

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.