Saturday, October 11, 2008

Ghost Writing

I always thought it was okay for someone to be a ghost-writer for the money as long as they also wrote for themselves - sometimes following one's passion however doggedly just does not pay the bills. Christine Larson reports in her NYT article that ghost writing is one of the best careers of 2008. She talks about the commonly held notion about its practitioners :

Doing something people regard as art — writing — for cash, and in someone else’s voice, seems suspect in a world where we’re exhorted to pursue our passions and express our true selves.

Larson, a ghost-writer herself also tells us what such a profession is good for :

SOMETIMES, suspending your own ego isn’t such a bad thing: Compromise in the work world can bring compensation, too — beyond the kind that pays the bills. Ghostwriting has let me climb inside other people’s lives and forced me to respect choices I wouldn’t have made myself.

I’ve learned to listen more carefully, and to never, ever assume that I know how people feel. These skills improve my work when I’m writing under my own byline, too. So I’m skeptical when I hear sunny exhortations urging workaday slobs like me to chase our dreams and to forgo (or condense) the evils of the office and all its compromises.

In the end, ghost-writing does not seem that different from other kind of work. You could be at the lower-rungs of the corporate totem pole with great ideas that you present after a lot of back-breaking analysis. The higher-ups merely distill its essence and pitch the idea as their own, to the powers that be. They go on to win the kudos and promotions while you get assigned to yet another challenging assignment they could pluck when it is ripe and ready. That does not sound a lot different from ghost-writing - only a loss less rewarding professionally and financially.

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