Ghost Writer

Once upon a time I thought I’d like to write picture books. After all, I loved reading picture books and was sad when my children became too old to enjoy them with me.  My first attempt was a story called The Noodle Monster and it was based on the antics of my two-year-old daughter who refused to eat anything but noodles ~ noodles for breakfast, noodles for lunch, noodles for dinner. I had great fun imagining the illustrations for this story as this little girl slowly begins to turn into a Noodle Monster, her hair growing in like fusilli noodles, a cannelloni body, a tortellini nose, macaroni ears  …. you get the picture. However, after many, many rejections from publishers I realized that I was not going to become the author of a picture book. Not yet, anyway.

So then I started writing novels for the middle grade reader. I received a few more potential bites from publishers than I’d had with the picture book, but still no book contract.

Finally I penned my first Y/A novel, and my new career began. I had found my voice, and it was the voice of a teenager. I still have fantasies of publishing a picture book, but it hasn’t happened yet.

Recently I was asked to be the ghost writer for a friend’s book. I was reluctant to take on the project, fearing he wouldn’t be happy with my work, or that I couldn’t do it justice but he was very persuasive and didn’t feel he could share his emotional story with ‘just anyone’. So we began. And it was hard. I found I was uncomfortable telling his story in my words, but that’s essentially what I had to do. He wanted more emotion. I struggled to get the details right, to get the time-frame accurate.  I know how to do all that in fiction, but it’s much harder in a memoir, when you have to stick to the facts. He thought I could simply use more exclamation marks to bring up the tension, but I wanted the writing to look professional.

We’re coming to the end of the project and I’m really glad I’ve had the chance to write this story. It’s an important one. But I’m not sure that I will ghost write again. It’s much easier to write fiction… where you can throw problem after problem at your characters but still make everything turn out okay in the end.

I admire those writers who can write in various genres. Well-meaning friends have asked why I don’t write adult fiction (implying that it is somehow more important). Maybe some day I will, but for now I’m satisfied that I have found a niche that works for me.


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