I would love to know if my clients get asked the same question from the other direction: “Doesn’t it feel odd to see someone else’s work come out under your name?”
The answer - to my question; I’ve no idea how they would answer theirs - is: only if I let it.
True, it’s not how I saw my career developing when I first put tentative finger to key as a student. Back then I wanted to be the next Arthur C. Clarke - though sheer honesty told me I probably wouldn’t be. But writing has always been what I do best. I think I’ve proved my own credentials with novels of my own, and I would rather be writing than doing anything else, so doing it for other people and still being paid seems an entirely logical step. So, when the ghostwriting door opened for the first time (an editor I had previously worked with inherited a series needing a writer; she thought of me), it seemed perfectly reasonable to go through it.
Still, we all know the little tingle that you get when something that is unequivocally yours comes out, don’t we? The fact is that to be a ghostwriter, you must have your ego surgically removed.
And this is where the Christian element comes in, because at the risk of sounding like Donald Trump (“I think I am actually humble. I think I’m much more humble than you would understand”) the great virtue of humility is very necessary. As a far better speaker than Trump put it, “He must become greater; I must become less” (John 3.30).
I’ve also been very fortunate that all the people I’ve ghostwritten for have very positive values to share, so my thinking can go something like:
- This person has a positive worldview that I can easily get on board with.
- It should be shared.
- They can’t do it on their own.
And this is where it gets interesting, because I know that this might not last. I was able to chuck in the day job with a sigh of relief in 2015, on the strength of a year’s contract; that extended to another two years, during which time I was able to do another year’s work in parallel. So, I’ve been busy.
All those contracts are now done. 2019 is the year in which I could really do with more work coming in - or go back to working a real job again, if I can. I’ve been very blessed - very unusually blessed - so far in work just coming to me. Not only that, but it came at exactly the right time to make life a whole lot easier, in terms of a major house rebuild and two house moves, just by letting me be around at home rather than tied to a desk elsewhere on someone else’s timetable. But it also means I’m entirely unused to having to put myself out there and hustle for it. So, interesting times. Will the humility stand the test? I’m looking forward to finding out.
Happy new year, everyone!
[For general info: a vital resource I've found is Ghostwriting, by Andrew Crofts - highly recommended.]