Following on from my previous post , where I aired some very justified concerns about writing for other people, I thought it was only appropriate to follow that up by divulging details of the other horrific writing experience I recently encountered. Ghostwriting.
I’ll be honest here, as far as jobs go I’ve always struggled to understand Ghostwriting. Now I’ve actually done it, I understand it even less. There’s no truth, no honour, and – at least in my experience – very very little gratitude.
Looking back on it I don’t really know how I even came to accept the job; I certainly wasn’t striving to be a Ghostwriter. I’m proud of the things I write, so the last thing I want is for my identity to be shrouded behind someone else’s name. I guess I was just in between writing projects when this one kind of fell in my lap, so I thought – why not? Sure, I didn’t necessarily understand Ghostwriting, but I decided to do it anyway. The genre was dramatically outside my comfort zone, but I was excited for the challenge. I knew this was a story I could develop in a marvellous way.
So I accepted the job and I worked hard. I worked really hard. (I know, I know – of course I’m going to say that – but I honestly really did.) To provide some perspective here, I was paid to do 15,000 words; I gave her 23,000. Those additional 8,000 words? I did them for free. Admittedly that was my choice, one which I was happy to make because the story needed it, but at the very least I expected some verbal appreciation which formally acknowledged my hard work. What did I get instead? Nothing. Nothing at all. Not even an obligatory ‘Thanks.’ She now even ignores my messages, which I guess makes me the Ghostwriter who got ghosted. (How very un-hilarious.)
Again, I can’t say that I really regret it. I taught myself a few new writing tricks, learned that I can actually write Steampunk (who knew?!) and created a pretty neat story out of it. When I accepted the job I promised I wouldn’t write anything I wouldn’t be happy to attribute my own name to, and I stand by that. I kept my integrity. But it’s obvious to me that there is generally very little integrity to be found in Ghostwriting. I guess that shouldn’t come as a surprise since its very nature is built upon a foundation of deceit. It’s largely horrific exploitation, with people capitalising off the talent of others, and I don’t like that. I don’t like it at all.