I ghostwrite for a living. I come up with insightful pieces about Jewish themes and write succinct essays and articles that are sent out into the world under another person’s name. For the most part, I don’t have a problem with this. It’s what I get paid to do. But it kills my mother. Every two weeks I send her my writing attributed to someone else, and every time she emails me back asking when I’ll get my own byline. I have given up explaining to her that that is never going to happen, at least not on these pieces (I do get credit for other writing I do). But some days, it kills me a little bit too, because I am proud of my work.
Granted, a lot of the writing is collaborative–my boss gives me feedback, and I change things here and there. We talk together about some of the articles before I write them. But sometimes it’s all me. My own idea. My own writing. Her approval. So here is the ethical dilemma. Can I print some of those here? Can I get some sort of credit for the ones that are primarily mine? For the handful of people that read my blog? Can I create an anthology and call it “My work as a ghostwriter”? My Life as a Ghost? Can I do it if I publish the original versions before she added her comments? How do professional ghostwriters handle this?
Just some of the questions running through my head this morning as I work on another piece to be released into the universe without my name attached.