Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Ghostly Week

It as, I am sure you are all well aware, the Week of the Ghost Writer. Well, it is in the United States of America apparently. What this entails I'm not quite certain but I suppose we can all come out of the closet and bask in an unusual degree of public acclamation for a few days. Frankly, I would have been unaware of this pulse-racing event had it not been for an article in a London newspaper that mentioned the fact. The writer seemed to regard our profession as being just marginally up from that of the oldest, and I can only imagine that he has never been asked to write for anyone else and was therefore suffering from a severe dose of sour grapes.
But he did assume, as do many, that ghost writing only consists of writing books for those who are unable or unwilling to do so for themselves. This is a direct result of so many pseudo celebrities and politicians, pseudo and otherwise, leaping into print without having to do anything more strenuous than cashing the obscenely large advance royalty cheques that publishers like to shower them with. Or did, until recently, when the reading public came to their senses and stopped buying the rubbish.
Time was when politicians were intelligent enough to be able to write their own speeches. Franklin D. Roosevelt was clearly smart enough to be able to but, inexplicably, handed the job over to a team of writers. One of these, the late J.K. Galbraith, an economist and later a fine author in his own right, commented that he and his fellow scribes would listen to FDR's 'Fireside Chats' just to see which of their phrases he had incorporated.
Later politicians seem to lack the assistance of men as gifted as Galbraith and Co., judging from the results to be heard from government spokesmen today.
In my opinion, a true ghost writer should remain wraith-like and preferably anonymous, and should be regarded more as an aid to authorship rather than a substitution. The book, speech or article should mirror the style of the author, not that of the contracted writer, who is merely an intermediary between thought and print, in many ways comparable to the typewriter or word processor, albeit perhaps a little more talented.
This approach, is, I realise, never going to get me anywhere in the literary hall of fame and there will never be a line of people waiting for me to sign a book. It is, however, a very pleasant occupation for one who likes to write.
The correspondent who wrote the article somewhat snidely remarked that all ghost writers have an unfinished novel tucked away somewhere, the inference being that they are insufficiently talented to ever finish it and thus have to prostitute their writing talents to earn a crust of bread.
I think his perception of the business is totally skewed.
So let's all celebrate The Week of the Ghost Writer. It is an American invention, the purpose of which escapes me for the moment, but let's crack open a bottle of bubbly anyway.
Now I've got a book to finish.



Blogger Bam Bam said...

Happy Ghostwriter Week Owen!


10:50 am  

Post a Comment

<< Home