Anytime you meet someone you’ve never met before, inevitably you get the same two questions: “What’s your name?” and “And what do you do?” Unless of course, you’re dealing with a Music Snob. Then it’s a whole different ballgame.
Generally, you have an answer that is easy for others to understand. If you do something complex, like writing code or programming you may say, “Oh, I work with computers.” If you are a contract employee, working closely with an aviation company, you might say: “I work out at the FAA.” Most people understand that. But when you say, “I’m a ghostwriter” people’s minds are blown. Why? I don’t know.
I think some people assume that I’m living like Ewan McGregor in The Ghost Writer, writing books for dignitaries and politicians that don’t have the time to write their own books and getting paid millions of dollars.
But that’s not what I do. (And that sure isn’t my salary)
Others think I go around solving crimes like the kids on the PBS show from the 90’s. But sadly, I do not have their magic notebook (or their super-hip style).
What I do do (heh…do do…) is fairly simple: I write books for people that don’t know how to write. They tell me their ideas and then I help them write it, or, I just write it myself.
“Isn’t that a lot like doing someone else’s homework?” you might ask. And yes, I guess in a sense it is. But honestly, I don’t really mind.
“But you don’t get any credit for it!”
It doesn’t matter to me if I get the credit or not. And given the fact that I can only write what the “author” likes; sometimes I’m grateful when I don’t have to get credit. Ha!
Plus, it helps me to grow as a writer and understand why something should or shouldn’t be placed in a book. I can honestly say that my experience as a ghostwriter has been more educational than any class I took in college. I’ve learned how to improve scenes (and how to kill them), how to write realistic dialogue (and how to sound like a cheesy 1989 made for TV movie). I’ve learned how to keep a reader hooked (and how to bore them to tears).
Since I’ve written a book before (and I’m working on another one), I like being able to widen my horizons with other projects. It’s also really nice to be able to talk to other people and see what ideas they have. Even if I don’t like them, someone out there is bound to be interested. After all, Dungeons and Dragons probably seemed like a silly idea at the time and now look at it! It’s a whole sub-culture!
All in all, I really like my job; I’m doing what I’ve always wanted to do. I get to tell stories and see the dreams of other would-be writers come true. Another bonus? I get to write in my jammies!