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As writers who have to support little hungry mouths, we are (well, like everyone else) always searching for a way to make money.
So what about ghost-writing?
Articles like this one from the BBC, make it sound so easy – write two or three books a year, put your kids through private schools. Live in a fancy house. Meet celebrities who love you. Done.
Of course, no one knows who you are.
But why do we write, exactly? I mean, none of us can stop, right? Whenever we think to throw the pen out the window we are haunted by ideas, gripped by the fear that we have tossed away our talent. When our PTA asks us to write for the newsletter we squirm, as angry as the doctor who is asked to “just take a quick look” at this weird blister-thing on Sybill’s back during a Fourth of July barbecue.
We want to be read, and really, we want to be paid for our work.
So how important is it that people know we are actually the author of that work?
Interesting question, isn’t it? How would you feel if you wrote a whole book and it became a best seller — but then some dipstick actor who could barely focus thoughts into a verbal sentence, much less in an email, gets credit for writing that fascinating book and gets to talk to Oprah, Ellen, and Jon Stewart about how gripping their story was to read. Would the money be enough to keep you satisfied?
If it’s just about the money, why aren’t we all writing creative ad copy? I can find a million job offers for blogging about random things. Here’s my position on this: do whatever day job you have to do to keep your kids fed and your rent paid, but leave time for your own creative work.
Ghostwriting can leave you drained. Yes, you are using your craft (writing) to earn a living. But you are also asking your inner artist to draw a picture that did not rise from your own soul.
Writing is of two parts: the story is the art, the writing is the craft. A great novel has both, and both belong to the author. Ghost-writing is a good way to pay the bills, but don’t let it be the only writing you do. Make time for your own story, even if it’s not as marketable as Angelina’s.
Better still: make something up. Write a story that has not yet been lived.
If you can’t find time to work on your own creative stuff, then you have to give something up. You can’t (and shouldn’t) give up your kids. You probably should exercise a little and leave at least a few hours for your spouse and for eating and sleeping and, let’s be real, a few hours for detox with your favorite addictive TV show. But what you can give up is a day job that makes you feel like you are writing without actually letting you write. You can stop pretending your low-paying blogging job is really what you want to be writing, and instead you can take a stupid-mind-numbing job where you are being paid GOBS of money and then you can take that extra money to hire a sitter so that you can actually work on something creative.
And if you just yelled at this post, then maybe you are secretly happy at what you do and you need to JUST ACTUALLY WORK ON YOUR NOVEL. Here is a kick-in-the-pants blog (warning: really colorful language) I found to help you write a novel in one year.
Good luck & get to it.