Monday, April 07, 2003

the perils of ghostwriting

I ghostwrote something for an author some time ago, and all went well. I got paid, he got the credit for a work that wasn't run-of-the-mill by a long shot.

Today, a couple of years later, I get a phone call from him asking me to explain a portion of the work. It turns out that some kid in college is doing a paper on the work and had communicated with the author directly with a barrage of questions. Immediately, I was irked.

First, because I presumed that the author MUST have read the work he commissioned, and therefore should be able to answer basic questions such as "What is the theme of the work?".

Second, because I had already distanced myself from my creation - like a parent who gave up the fruit of my loins for adoption, I was not about to go speaking on its behalf. I am no longer the parent, the author who commissioned it is.

So the last thing I wanted to do today, a holiday, is to go through pages of stupid questions on behalf of the author.

The author told me that he felt he was being tested, so he had to be able to answer correctly. Without even going into the principles of privileged reading, I told him to read the work again and just do his best, but no way was I going to answer that that crap (besides, what sort of literary criticism student goes around asking the theme of a work? Did this student not read the work in the first place? Is this guy illiterate, lazy or too clever to read?).

If you commission work from me, and we have an agreement of an exhange (work for money and you get the writing credit), the least you can do is to lock yourself up somewhere and familiarize yourself with the work you "wrote".

As fas as I'm concerned, in this situation, I ceased to be the author when I whored my work.

It's yours.

Act like it.


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