Dirty Confessions of a Ghostwriter
Forgive me, readers – for I have sinned.
I have aided and abetted those who would deceive you.
In the secret, sheltered quiet of my dark and cluttered home office, to the unholy tunes of Jay-Z’s greatest hits album,
I’ve been weaving a sordid web of lies.
I have huddled over the fluorescent glow of my monitor, the tick, tick, ticking of my keyboard echoing through my dusty halls.
Playing a ventriloquist. For a fee, I’ve reached my supple typing hands deep up the back-end of paying clients, pulled the strings – and lent them my voice.
And you soaked it up.
So entertained by the clacking of the puppet’s wooden jowls, so endeared by the message that you forgot I was even there.
You read. You enjoyed. You heaped praise on the beautiful imposter – and they smiled, waved, collected their bouquet and went on their way. But I lurked in the shadows, jealous – pale from lack of sunshine, savouring the bittersweet moment.
I had one job. I don’t get the chocolates, the groupies, the parade floats or the precious, precious retweets.
No, that’s not for me. I am the ghost.
I am the ghostwriter.
But you’ve seen this ghost. You’ve seen me on Moz. You’ve read me on SEJ. You’ve picked me up in magazines, scanned over me in corporate blogs, replied to me in internal communiques. I’m hiding behind the big bold letters in that clever headline, crouched beneath the snarky wit of that agency’s website copy that you liked so much.
“Great post! Awesome copy! Man, this is good stuff. ”
“Thank you, thank you.” I whisper shyly into a dirty keyboard with the “A” and the “S” worn off, but known from memory.
I’ve made little leaguers bat like Babe Ruth out there. I love those home runs. So do they. We all go out for pizza after the game.
I’ve composed hit singles for teenage garage bands and edited them so heavily in the studio that they come out sounding like U2. Sometimes it’s just a makeover. Sometimes it’s skinning the wolf and handing it back to the sheep. Playing high-stakes dress-up.
This is my job. It’s what I do best.
Sometimes I help people lie. Sometimes, these people are your friends (and you don’t even know it!)
I make ‘em sound more interesting than they really are. I’m the guy that convinces your dentist you’ve flossed twice a day. I’m the fresh coat of paint on the Civic that barely runs – the strategic omission in that OKCupid profile.
Sometimes I help ‘em seduce you – give them the words to whisper in your ear to get the things they want.
It works. We high-five.
For all of this – the secret psychological warfare; the careful inflections and rhythms and timings I dole out to select and worthy comers – for that, I get to keep my lights on.
And drive a nice car that I constantly scratch.
Watch for me if you want. I’m trained to disappear.