Friday, December 4, 2009

A Ghostwriting Community Sounds Really Good to Me

At my writing desk in my home office in Southern California, I've often felt lonesome to know someone else who does what I do. I met Alisa through her amazing blog,, and Ellen through her, and they've invited me to contribute here. I feel like I just got that coveted sorority bid I never got back in college.

I have worked with one particular fellow writer -- she's the one who introduced me to this business, and I credit her with giving me a leg-up and an education without which I could not have been as successful as I've been as a ghost. But she's best described as a coauthor. Her name always appears on the books she works on, and she has had enough success that people who hire her WANT her name to appear.

I, on the other hand, am happy as a ghost. I get to sit here writing and learning, looping and swirling words together, spiriting someone else's voice, selling and burnishing someone else's ideas. I listen to the author's speech, pick his/her brain, and fill in the blanks with my own research. It's freeing, kind of like the exercises we used to do in school where we'd try to imitate a great writer's style and rhythm.

My road to ghostwriting was circuitous. I earned my undergraduate degree in the performing arts while accruing a lot of coursework in language and literature, which had always been passions for me. After a couple of years thrashing about in retail and waitressing jobs while working for free as a dancer, choreographer and actress, I stopped wanting to count on the arts to support me financially. I returned to school and earned a graduate degree in Exercise Physiology, with the notion of being a highly paid personal trainer for rich folk. I thought, hey, I can hang out in gyms, work out a lot, be buff, and make a high hourly wage - then I can go off and be an artist on my own time!

Problem was, I didn't like being a personal trainer. Fortunately, I ended up with a client who was a writer, and who needed help, and was willing to give me a tumble. She's the one I mentioned earlier. I had a lot of foundational knowledge about human physiology and medical matters from my graduate education, so I stepped into the health niche pretty smoothly.

That was 13 years ago. I've branched out from health and medical writing to write about education, psychology, and spirituality. When I started having children, I became passionate about topics related to pregnancy, postpartum health, parenting, and breastfeeding, and got to write about these topics a good deal. At this point, I'm starting a new health/medical assignment that will stretch over the next several months.

Although I'm more than happy to work behind the scenes as a ghost, I have felt the need to write as myself from time to time. I started my own blog at Open Salon: I have about 40 pages of a novel written, and I've written some good poetry. Still dancing and performing, too.

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