for the Creatives, for the Writers, Showcasing other Creatives

Guest Post: How Ghostwriting is Hurting the Book World

Olivia J has agreed to share her concerns about ghostwriting here, and you can check out my defense of ghostwriting on her site. What a fun collaboration ❤ Read the posts, then join the convo 🙂

“The role of a writer is not to say what we can all say, but what we are unable to say,” -Anais Nin
 
The picture that started it all:
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This launched me and Amy L Sauder into a debate on ghostwriters, so here we are. 

Ghostwriting, or, more generally, ghosting, is not a new concept in the art world. Even Mozart himself was paid to ghostwrite music for wealthier, more famous men of his time. This process involves Person A creating a work, or even doing a varying amount of collaborating on a work with Person B, but then Person B getting credit. Sometimes this includes Person A’s name in smaller print on the front of the book, or not being included at all. Regardless, ghostwriters are paid for their work.

However, I have some criticisms, as per usual.

(For clarity, I’m going to be talking about ghostwriting concerning books.)

1. Exploitation of the Ghostwriter

Sure, ghostwriters consent to what they are doing. However, it still takes an amount of . . . castration to get very little or no credit on something you worked on. It strips away the integrity of the author. By no means am I talking about truly collaborative works, where two authors write a book together because that’s an entirely different process than ghostwriting. 

How ghostwriting exploits the author is that it takes away the beautiful creative control of the author: it strips the author of what they do best. By having a shadow, by having someone to always answer to, this confines the author. It confines the author even further because these authors sign contracts to write so many books for someone, or to have certain requirements when they write. There’s nothing more hellish that I can think of than putting a cap on the creativity of writing, by controlling and stifling an author. 

Don’t get me wrong, ghostwriting can be a way to launch the author into the publishing sphere, but rarely do I believe that that’s all an author should aspire to be. 

2. All About The Money

The problem is that by slapping a popular name on the cover, it appeals to the pervasive consumerism and fame obsession in this society. By having ghostwriters, it allows famous people to sell books, regardless of whether they are telling good stories. It only adds to the tasteless, bland array of fiction. James Patterson has so many books out because people pick the book up with his name on it and expect the same thing. Name recognition or fame should not sell books, even though publishing has become a toxic industry. 

FullSizeRender (10)The reason that authors like Clive Cussler, Tom Clancy, etc. use ghostwriters is because of the high demand for their books. Or, rather, the types of stories they tell. This only indicates that these books sell because they have their names on them, not because of the title, cover art, or actual content inside, which is absolutely despicable. The promotion of ghostwriters only promotes writing as a business, not an art form. There should be a happy medium between the business of bookselling and writing as an art, but ghostwriters are not the way to achieve that goal. In fact, ghostwriters only push the flow further into the toxic business sphere. 

3. Cheapening of the Craft

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Sure, everyone can write a book, but maybe not well. This is not to discourage anyone from writing a book if they so please. But what ghostwriting does is that it cuts out a significant chunk of the struggle, the art of writing. 

People like Kendall and Kylie Jenner, Zoe Sugg, and other celebrities don’t write a significant chunk of their books; however, they can still claim to be an author of a book. It takes all of the blood, sweat, and tears out of writing. Every ounce of pain, of late nights you’ve spent writing, every blank page, every scrapped draft all becomes for naught because someone who only pitched some ideas for a book is now credited as an author. 

Another problem is that celebrity (fiction) books combine two types of people: writers and non-writers, and this can create disastrous results. Sometimes, what the celebrity/non-writer wants to create or wants to happen isn’t exactly good concerning the objective parts of fiction. This leads to books on the shelves that aren’t the best they can be. Art should always be about making the best the individual can get, always improving. But by allowing half-assed work on the shelves just for money only cheapens writing itself. 

By allowing ghostwriting to populate the scene, it almost degrades the hard work and art that others create, just because someone had enough money.

~

Granted, there are exceptions. Autobiographies are one, because biographies are more of a historical account than a creative work. Biographies, and other nonfiction, don’t conform to the same genre conventions that art or novels do, which is where the problems arise with ghostwriters and books. 

Maybe I would consider ghostwriting, just for the money. But never, under any circumstances, would I make that my career or the only creative work I was writing.

Tread lightly, fellow authors,

~The WordShaker


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Olivia J, The WordShaker is just that: a word shaker. She is a writer, artist, creative extraordinaire, and skilled in the ways of procrastination and being too blunt. She’s going to be a loving wife, mother, published author, speaker, and professional adventurer someday – and whatever else God has in store for her. Olivia has had three short stories published in her high school’s writing journal, and received merit awards for her art in numerous art shows, started and fosters her own creative writing club at her high school, and plans to go to the Savannah College of Art and Design.

Social Media Links:

Instagram: @olivia.j.the.wordshaker

How awesome is this Wordshaker!? 🙂 What do you think about ghostwriting? Does it add or detract to the literary world? Check out my Defense of Ghostwriting on her site (don’t forget to follow her while you’re at it!), then join the convo in the comments below.

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for the Writers, Musings of a Creative, Showcasing other Creatives

The story of how I became a storyteller

Today I am stoked to welcome my creative friend Maggie to the blog. Enjoy her post and share your own storyteller journey with us in the comments 🙂 


 

mags2The story of how I became a storyteller goes all the way back to when I was in first grade. Life was easy back then. Days were filled with coloring book pages and thinking blocks, both which helped light way to my passion for creativity. It didn’t take much to amuse me in those younger years. I would sit in front of the doorway of our house, battling harsh sunlight and racking my brain for the perfect solution to an imperfect array of building blocks. It was there where I constructed the first of many masterpieces. And it was there where I used to proudly gather pastors and patrons under the safety of makeshift sanctuaries. When I was not playing church, I could be found scribbling away my free time. Occasionally, if the mood and temperature was just right, drawings of helpless horses and terrifying wolves would come to life.

These are my earliest memories of visual narration. While there inevitably must have been more instances in-between, it was not until my fourth grade year that I really reunited with my roots as a storyteller. In a new town with some new friends, I strung together countless episodes of a recess superhero saga. I was featured as “Ice Princess,” a kick-butt heroine who welded magnificent powers similar to that of Disney’s Snow Queen.

mags1Later that year when my days were not as filled with Frozone imitations, I found myself able to pursue other activities such as jump rope and church picnics. This is how, in short, I met one of my long-term running best friends. We instantly bonded over Littlest Pet Shop, and together configured names for hamsters and lizards alike. It was not long before we decided to take this obsession with small animals to a whole new level. Together, we crafted a story inspired by an episode of Pet Stars, one of the most interesting and entertaining shows at the time. Perhaps even more unique though, was the story we produced as a result of the series. It centered around a dog who could do math and used his abilities to tutor those in need. One of his primary pupils was his owner, the ever-troubled and renowned actor, Josh Hutcherson.

Fast forward a year or so. I had dropped stories of ridiculously cute celebrities and division-doing dogs. I exchanged them for two starkly different twin sisters and a set of handsome, case-cracking brothers. Crime-fighting protagonists and justice-serving plots came easy to me. All-too-easy, if you ask me. Considering my obsession with Franklin W. Dixon at the time, it was really no wonder. His writing was fresh and cool, and I was young and naive and didn’t care much if my stories were just like his.

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With my writing skills in check, I took the liberty to adopt yet another form of storytelling. In the simplest sense, this medium was play acting. My co-writer and I found ourselves continuously drawn to the idea of hashing out different scenarios in real-life. It was through these exercises that we were able to establish most of the credibility for our story as a whole. It felt risky and unnatural to embody the live’s of other characters. However, I found peace in knowing this was exactly the sort of thing the March sisters did in Little Women.

After a while the theatricals lost their touch as did the stories that formed them. Eventually, I let myself venture onto “greener pastures” (if you could call them that). It was here where I allowed myself to experiment with other fables; but they only managed to hold my attention for a small time. I struggled with developing full-on plots and fleshed-out storylines. For this reason I once again turned to a new medium. The philosophy I soon adopted read as follows, “If I couldn’t tell a story with words, I would do so using pictures.” As a result, photography became my new and improved mode of storytelling. Through the medium, I discovered editing as a niche of mine and used that skill to create fantastical images of my little sister performing mundane tasks.

I came out of the phase with a few mentionable awards and direction for my life study, but this was not enough to dampen my desire for the mastery of new things. In the spring of 2014, I put my thoughts online for the first time. Thanks to some pretty effective feedback, I have been an active part of the blogosphere ever since. Over the years, blogging has taught me an enormous amount, but I would argue that storytelling as a whole has taught me even more. If it wasn’t for long afternoons spent with friends on the playground, I would have never learned the value of imagination. If it wasn’t for mishaps in writing, I would have never discovered my love of photography. It was through these experiences that I realized the importance of not limiting yourself to one specialty. With constant experimentation and the desire to learn, one can readily produce items of worth. If it doesn’t happen, it doesn’t happen, but that’s not to say you shouldn’t stop trying. Live vigorously. Accept failures. And maybe just, maybe you’ll create something amazing along the way.

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Maggie Schoepke is a Graphic Design Major and bonafide Japan-lover. She spends her time outside, preferably under the shade of a weeping willow and the appeal of a melancholy tale. When not having a good cry, Maggie enjoys pursuing art, writing, and above all, her Divine Creator. When asked what annoys her the most, she will probably reply with the tacky saying, “There are never enough hours in the day, but always too many days before Saturday.”

 

You can find more of Maggie’s musings at https://teatimewithsenpai.wordpress.com/ 

Showcasing other Creatives, Stories to Read Right Now

Short Story: “The Watcher” by Megan Fatheree

My friend Megan Fatheree has recently started a blog on writing. It’s a great concept, using examples of books and movies on how to write plot, setting, an engaging story (and these are just her first few posts!) You can check it out at https://meganfatheree.wordpress.com/

Before you take my word for it though, check out this short story she wrote:
 
 
 

The Watcher

 

I knew secrets, so I had to run. Hide. And not be found. It wasn’t easy, hiding in plain sight, and there was no one to trust.

Or so I thought.

That day started like any other that I had become accustomed to. Eyes flying open. Realizing where I was. Feeling that heavy heartbreak that always came with my memories.

The hotel room wasn’t large, by any means, but it was cheap. Cheap was what I needed. I hadn’t been able to get a job, and hiding was beginning to feel like a big waste of money, but I knew the second I came out of hiding, I would be dead.

Too many lives depended on my silence. Too many secrets depended on my death.

I had slept in my clothes, my first full night of sleep in almost six months. I hadn’t meant to stay unconscious so long.

As I ran a hand through my long, tangled hair, I heard a knock on the door. I was quick to grab my gun. A gun that I hadn’t had the time to learn how to use. It couldn’t be too hard. All I had to do was point and pull.

I was stupid enough to not look through the peephole before I opened the door, and was suddenly stuck facing a complete stranger. Dressed in all black. With sunglasses.

He took one look at me and pushed his way into the room.

The gun was out of my hand before I even had time to point. So much for that strategy. He tossed it to the bed and pushed the door closed, pinning me against it.

“You’ve done a good job of hiding so far,” he said, and the tone wasn’t exactly friendly, “so I’ve stayed out of your way. The very fact that I’m here should tell you something has escalated. No time for explanations, I need you to trust me.”

I wasn’t really sure what to do with that information, but he hadn’t tried to hurt me or anything, so my head started bobbing on its own.

“Good.” He backed away from the door and pulled a bag off his shoulder. He tossed me a pair of sunglasses. “Wear these. And put this on, it’s chilly.” The jacket came sailing toward my head. “Pull the hood up.”

I did everything he asked, not even considering my own safety, to be honest. I just didn’t want to get on his bad side.

As soon as the jacket was zipped and the hood was covering my hair, he was next to me with a hand around my arm.

I couldn’t do much besides watch what was going on around me. The door cracked open, and then we walked away. Ten seconds later, I could hear the door to my hotel room break open. I turned my head to look, but the man yanked me forward, in front of him.

“Don’t let them see you. Keep moving.”

I didn’t dare to contradict a word he said. The aura of wisdom and strength and foreboding that followed him was more than enough to silence anything I could have said.

He stared down at me for a brief moment, and then he turned me around and grasped my hand tightly.

I would have protested, if I would have had time. As it was, I was pretty sure I heard a gunshot ricochet off a nearby car the moment before he took off faster than I could consciously run. I stumbled along behind, but he was dragging me more than I was actually moving my feet.

So many street blocks went by that I lost count. We ran through so many alleys that I completely lost my bearings. Finally, he skidded to a stop beside a motorcycle.

I have to admit, I was relieved I didn’t have to run any farther. I couldn’t breathe and my sides were splitting. I settled myself in the passenger seat and held tightly to his torso. It was about that time that I realized he hadn’t said what his name was, but it also didn’t seem like a good time to ask.

I had originally thought it was just a motorcycle, but I quickly discovered that it was more like a motorcycle on steroids. There was no way we should have been going as fast as we were.

We didn’t stop until we reached the docks. I could hear the shouts a few blocks behind us. It sounded like the cops had pulled over whoever was chasing us, one of the few times I was grateful for their presence.

There was a speedboat moored there, at the docks. It seemed to be waiting for us, and suddenly I wondered how long this man had been planning this escape. How long he had known about me. And if he had known about me all along, who else had known?

I was reluctant to board the boat, but I did so anyway. More out of curiosity than necessity, though I was sure the men who had been chasing us were still hot on our trail.

There was only one question I was brave enough to ask my man in black. “Who are you?”

The man gave an almost-smile and turned his back to me, looking out over the water toward the pier we had left. “My name is Mark, but nobody really calls me that.”

“Mark,” I repeated softly, memorizing it quickly.

I would have asked many more questions, but Mark’s troubled gaze was still sweeping the horizon, and I didn’t want to interrupt. My questions could wait until we were safe.

That turned out to be sooner rather than later. The boat docked at a small island, not far off the mainland.

I saw Mark slip the boat driver a few hundred dollar bills and heard him tell the man we had never been there. I was alright with that, if it meant one night of safety.

The house Mark led me to was large and scarily modern. Not anything I would have expected to be on an island like that one, surrounded by trees and shrubbery.

Mark easily opened the door and motioned around the enormous front room. “Welcome to the house.”

I was in awe, really, so I didn’t utter a single word. Not for a long time, anyway. The beauty of the isolated homestead made my head spin. I had never expected someone like him to live someplace like that.

My eyes caught sight of a black book on one of the tables in the room, and I couldn’t help but pick it up. I thumbed through it, fast at first and then slowly, and that was the end of my silence.

Jenny’s Diary.

That was the tag on the inside cover. “Who’s Jenny?” I asked, rather perturbed and suddenly terribly frightened. What if he was no better than the rest? What if he was a serial killer or something?

Mark turned to look at me, but his eyes were really directed at the book. He shrugged. “She was here a while ago. She’s gone now.”

That sickening dread that had become my constant companion reared its ugly head once more. I dropped the book back on the table and backed away from Mark. He was suddenly the last person on earth that I wanted to be standing next to.

“Calm down,” Mark said, extending his hands toward me and lowering his voice to a soothing tone.

I continued to back away, having to pause several times to skirt around objects behind me. “Please leave me alone,” I begged. “I’ll tell you anything. I’ll give you any secret I know, just don’t hurt me.”

Mark stopped and a chuckle rose from his throat.

A chuckle? That was the last thing I had expected in such a tense situation.

“I’m not going to hurt you,” he said in that same soothing tone. “If I wanted information out of you, you would be bloody and tied to a chair. Trust me. I brought you here for your own safety.”

I wanted to trust him, I really did, but that was the one thing I couldn’t afford to do. “What about Jenny?”

Mark lifted the black book and ran a finger over the leather cover. “Jenny left because she didn’t need protection anymore. This is my job. I watch, and I protect. You’re not the only person I keep an eye on.”

I started to feel a little better, but I was still wary of the stranger before me.

He gave a smirk and dropped the book. “But, I must say, you are my favorite.”

In that moment, Mark went from frightening to creepy and I made a beeline for the door. Even if I had to swim, I was absolutely not going to remain on that deserted island with him.

Unfortunately for me, Mark had better reflexes than I did, and he was faster. Before I could make it halfway to the door, one of his monstrous arms had encased my torso, and he practically dragged me back into the room.

It was useless to fight, but I did so anyway. It was the only thing I could do, really. He was stronger and probably smarter. I found myself thrust down onto a sofa.

“Listen,” Mark said sternly, and his green eyes flashed fire, “I understand you’re scared and paranoid. Running can do that to a person, but I need you to trust me. It’s the only way I can help you.”

In response, I darted for the door again. Mark had obviously been anticipating this, as I found myself thrust back onto the sofa before I could even start running.

“I watch,” Mark repeated, “but I only intervene when it is absolutely critical. When the person I am watching can no longer handle the situation. Like it or not, right now I’m the only thing keeping you safe.”

He pinned me with his stare, as if he anticipated an answer from me. I would have been happy to oblige, but he hadn’t asked a question. He had stated exactly what he wanted to be done.

Seeing as how I wasn’t a very great swimmer, I took the opportunity to agree with him. Maybe, eventually, he would let me get back to my life as a fugitive.

I winced then, wondering when it had become a natural thing to think of myself as a fugitive. I didn’t like it, not really, but somewhere along the line I had come to accept it. Maybe he could help me turn back into a normal human being. Just maybe.

That was the exact moment that the very first spark of trust filled my head and my heart. When he had looked me in the eyes during our flight from my hotel room, I thought I had sensed a sort of kinship. As if he had been where I was. And maybe he had. I really didn’t know anything about him.

Mark seemed to sense my disposition, and he backed off. His boots were soon by the back door, and Mark disappeared through an archway.

I took the time to explore the rest of the house, including the six upstairs bedrooms. I quickly claimed the one that reminded me most of my home. A home I hadn’t seen in almost a year.

The levity of my situation suddenly hit me like a load of bricks. I hadn’t had time to think on it before, but I was homesick and I was tired of being chased. A list of if-only’s ran through my head, and for a while I forgot about the secrets I knew. I thought only of home and family and all the things I had likely missed.

So much stress flew off my shoulders with the resurgence of those long-suppressed memories that I must have fallen asleep, because the next thing I knew Mark was shaking me awake.

I looked up at him with that sleepy-eyed stare that comes only after the best naps, and he smiled back. He set a tray of food on the bed and then left the room.

I ate like a woman starved, which I suppose I pretty much was. I had, after all, been living off of hot dogs and toast for a long while. Nothing had ever tasted as good as that soup Mark gave me. I don’t suppose anything ever will taste as good as that. It was my first real meal in a long, long time.

I took the tray back downstairs and found Mark in the kitchen, chowing down on his own lunch. Or dinner. Whatever time of day it actually was.

“Why am I your favorite?” I finally found the courage to ask.

Mark didn’t even hesitate. “Because you’ve never lost hope. I’ve been watching you for a long time now, and all I ever see is your optimism. You remind me a lot of myself.”

I wanted to ask him how he knew. I wanted to ask if he had ever been in my situation. Somehow, the words wouldn’t form. Maybe it was my head telling me it was all trivial. Or maybe it was my heart telling me he was reluctant to speak of it. Either way, I didn’t broach the subject with him, and looking back I was glad I chose not to. It would only have weighed my soul down that much more.

Our conversation turned to me after that. He asked how I had come to find all these secrets, and who I thought was after me. It seemed like he already knew all the answers, but it helped to talk about it all.

Those conversations became the norm over the next few months in the house. Mark was always so easy to talk to and so eager to listen. He comforted me after the nightmares stormed my dreams. He knew just how to calm me down when I panicked about the sound of a helicopter or boat driving by.

The day that I refused to eat my cereal, because my stomach hurt and I was afraid I’d been poisoned, he took a blood sample just to humor me. It came back clean, just like he knew it would. I never doubted him after that.

I could talk to him about anything, and he would always tell me when he found one of the men who had been chasing me for months on end. I guess he knew it brought me peace of mind. Mark cared about my peace of mind, and in small tender moments, I sometimes wondered if he cared about more than just that.

I cherished those moments. I still do. Mark was the only one who truly knew how I felt, and he didn’t hesitate to ask me about anything. We became very close, Mark and I.

Now, two years later, I walk the streets freely, without a worry in the world. Mark took care of everyone who wanted to hurt me. I don’t know how, but I know he did. Anyone left would be remiss to try anything, anyway. Because they know. And I know.

Even when I don’t see him, even when I doubt he’s paying attention at all, Mark is always there. Lurking in the shadows. Standing high on a rooftop. Gazing across the streets until our eyes meet. Because Mark will always be the one thing I needed more than anything during those hard times.

 

 
 
 
 
 

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Megan Fatheree was homeschooled from Pre-school through 12th grade. During this time, she was blessed to be able to focus her efforts toward the craft of writing. She is now in her early 20s and a full-time author. Some of her books include “Precious Jewel”, “Eminent Danger”, and “Rose-Colored Glasses.” She also blogs at meganfatheree.wordpress.com. She loves what she does and wouldn’t trade it for anything. She looks forward to all the great adventures that lay in store for her in the near future.