Since we are sometime ghostwriters, a movie entitled The Ghost Writer was bound to hold an attraction for us. We went to see it during its first weekend in the theatres.
It is a wonderfully literary movie. For example, at both the beginning and the end are scenes featuring a taxi, a manuscript and the ghostwriter. The two scenes play out completely differently and the actors, if you will, play entirely different roles. In between, is the movie. Since it is a thriller, a lot happens. But of interest here, are the ghost and the manuscript and the changes they undergo between those bookend scenes.
In the beginning, the ghost and the manuscript could not be more separate. The ghost has never read the 600 plus pages he has been given. We are revealing nothing to say that in the end, he has absorbed the truth of the ms. he is carrying. In doing so, he has transferred its value to himself. The movie ghostwriter is never given a life outside of his job as a ghost and does not even have a name. But in the end, he becomes the story.
It is an interesting comment on ghostwriting. We often get queries from people who say they have a great idea for a book and are looking for someone to write it. If the idea is fictional, we suggest they write their own book; we don’t ghostwrite fiction.
The best way to tell your story, whether it is a novel or a memoir, is to tell your story. We are skillful writers but we don’t speak with your voice. Besides, the dirty little secret about writing books is that writing is its own reward. Like physical exercise, it requires discipline, but it pays off in all sorts of satisfying ways.
In the movie, the ghostwriter is hired to take a boring political memoir already written by another ghostwriter and make it a best seller. The result is to completely bury the politician whose memoir it is purported to be. You never know the truth about him.