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This past year I had the opportunity to hone a new skill, ghostwriting. It’s something I’ve wanted to do, although I wondered whether I’d really enjoy the process.
For those who aren’t familiar with how ghostwriting works, here’s the process boiled down into its simplest form. The ghostwriter agrees to take a concept or story and put it into manuscript form. It might involve turning a series of sermons or the events of someone’s life into a full-length book. The concept is that the idea comes from the author, and the order of the words comes from the ghostwriter. This means that in most instances, the final decisions on how the idea looks as a manuscript belongs to the author, NOT the ghostwriter. Sometimes the ghostwriter isn’t even mentioned.
The process itself has caused a debate in our industry. Some say it’s unethical for the person (ghostwriter) doing the actual work not to get the credit. Personally I don’t think the issue is that cut and dried. So far, with the projects I’ve been involved with, I would never have written about the subjects on my own or come up with the ideas, so I really don’t feel cheated at all. I’m actually grateful to be a part of the projects.
But getting back to the issue, I was worried I would feel too possessive by putting all that effort into something that wasn’t mine. And, being just a little bit of a control freak, I worried I wouldn’t be able to let it go when I was finished.
Actually the opposite turned out to be true. These projects have given me a freedom I never imagined. I found that without the ownership issue, I could spend all my effort in pursuit of excellence.
Don’t get me wrong. I try to make everything I write excellent. But without the emotional ties of ownership for the project, it was simpler to see the big picture. My emotions didn’t cloud the issues, and I didn’t have to worry about the outcome. Instead I was certain that the person directing the project had things well in hand, or at least had all the responsibility of how it ultimately turned out.
Then it hit me.
This was how I needed to approach all my writing (actually all my life). If truly see my writing as a gift from God and as an act of obedience. If He really is directing my paths, then I can concentrate on achieving excellence, and leave the overall management to Him. No more second-guessing trends in the market or anything else. My job is to follow where His Spirit leads and let Him take care of the results.
Edie Melson is the author of four books, a freelance writer and editor with years of experience in the publishing industry. She’s the co-director of the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference, as well as a popular faculty member at numerous others. She’s also the social media columnist for Southern Writers Magazine and social media mentor for My Book Therapy. Connect with her through Twitter, Facebook, and her popular blog for writers, www.thewriteconversation.com