Many years ago, I gave my then friend, Jane Teresa, a swag of articles I’d written. I felt an enormous sense of pride as I handed them over. After all, JT, was a published author, and she was interested in my work – a rare combination. Actually, truth to tell, I was almost wetting myself in anticipation of the bit of praise I knew would be coming my way.
Little did I know that I was about to experience something every writer should. And that experience was going to be excruciatingly painful, emotionally disturbing, and completely heartbreaking. I could have easily given up the pen (and the friendship – no, I lie about that) right then, and if it were not for JT’s encouraging words that accompanied the awful ripping as she dissected my work, I would never have written again.
Fortunately, I continued to write and, not only did
Jane and I marry, but we also formed an extraordinary team for many adventures. I learned loads of lessons from those early critiques, but, more importantly, what was driven home like a stake through a vampire’s heart, was an indelible memory of pain and wounded pride that will endure forever. Isn’t that great?
From time to time, ghostwriting is not so much about finding new words, but resurrecting the old. For example, clients who present their tenderly crafted words for appraisal have the reasonable perception that the work may, at the most, just require a bit of a polish. And sometimes that’s all it does need. However, if the ghost is faced with a bit of a dog’s dinner, it would be as well for him to remember how those razor edges of rejection felt to oneself before ploughing ahead with a critique of another’s efforts.
Not long ago, I had a lovely lady client. She was elderly, poised, almost stately, and the epitome of good manners. As we progressed, she happily accepted my total rewriting of her book with the same emailed response, ‘reads well’. After a dozen or so of these I began to wonder if she was actually reading what I’d sent. I mean, some of the changes I’d made were quite dramatic. And then, halfway through the book, I had an email from her with a piece of text I’d edited out pasted into the message. It was accompanied by large red font which said, ‘Michael, I really fucking like this. Please leave it in’.
Yes, I was as shocked as you no doubt are. But, after I’d laughed out loud, I had a think. Had I become careless, or thoughtless? Immersed in my writer’s zone, and on a roll, had I lost some sensitivity to my client’s precious words? I’ll probably never know, but as a sharp reminder, the message served its purpose.