A ghostwriter's limitations
A project officially ended today, but not because it was completed. The client's feedback as to why she decided to discontinue the project brought into focus the limitations of a ghostwriter: I can't read minds.
My ghostwriting process is collaborative. Sure, it takes longer, but it's supposed to satisfy the client's content needs by ensuring that the content delivered is what the client wants. This time the process failed. I may have misunderstood what little feedback I received. Or the client may have failed to deliver the feedback necessary to explain her preferences. That point on that project is moot, but not on other projects.
In the ghostwriting process, the client has the responsibility and obligation to review the content and provide feedback. The ghostwriter can only guess as to what the client really wants. Critical feedback provides necessary direction so the writer can revise accordingly. Feedback that basically goes, "This is good," doesn't help if the client wants something different.
I admit to being disappointed, because I thought I'd been doing a good job. I never received word otherwise or that I'd veered down the wrong track with the story. However, I now have a lesson learned to employ with future ghostwriting contracts. I must emphasize with clients that, no, I cannot read their minds and that, yes, I do need their critical feedback. Oddly enough, one client who has been very critical does just that. Sometimes, I find his feedback frustrating and need more explanation. Sometimes, I disagree with his feedback and explain why I disagree with him. In those cases, he will sometimes come around to my way of thinking; other times, I yield and revise accordingly. It is, after all, not my book. He hired me because I'm the writing expert. I work for him because it's all about his plot and his characters. Just because the client may not have the time or skill to bring the story to life doesn't make the story mine and doesn't mean he has no idea of what the finished product should be like. My name won't go on the manuscript or the book's cover.
Let's repeat that: It's not my story.
Ghostwriting is a weird profession. The writer does his or her level best to produce excellent content to suit the client. Oftentimes, the creativity in the work belongs all or mostly to the writer. Sometimes, the idea, too. But this is work-for-hire. We receive no byline credit or royalties in exchange for payment. The client, who is the author of record on such work, assumes the risk for the work's success.
No two clients are the same. Any consultant or freelancer will tell you that. Some clients are easier to interpret than others. Some are more easygoing than others. Some need to exert more control than others. Unfortunately, I have little way of determining whether a client's going to be one of the "easy" ones before we become enmeshed in the project. Writing may be solitary work; ghostwriting can feel like writing by committee. But the ghostwriter must never forget, even in the throes of creation, that the work is not his (or hers).
So... lesson learned. It's probably one that won't stick and I'll have to learn it again. Many lessons are like that, you know.
And to that client who canceled the project: I hope she finds the time to write her story her way or a ghostwriter who can correctly interpret what she has in mind.
They have nothing in common, except that they’re temporarily next door neighbors on a California beach. Sonia’s a newly minted chef and Mick’s a rock star. Sonia is taking a vacation before starting the inevitable, post-graduation job hunt. Mick is using his summer hiatus to work on his music.
The attraction is instant and powerful. She’s innocent and he’s … not. Their whirlwind romance catapults them into a quick Las Vegas wedding and then the real challenges begin: How can two such different people learn to live together? Can Mick be faithful? Will his career crush her dreams?
#HenHousePublishing #BookHooks #HollyBargo
About Holly Bargo
Holly Bargo is the author’s pseudonym and really did exist as a temperamental appaloosa mare fondly remembered for watching over toddler children and grinding a brand new pager into dust. Holly lives on a hobby farm in southwest Ohio with her husband, a clowder of cats, an elderly llama, and an even more ancient horse that looks and acts half her age. Until recently, Holly and her husband’s two children also lived with them, but kids grow up and leave home.
Holly has published 17 fiction books since 2014—many of them steamy romances—and works full-time as a freelance ghostwriter and editor. All her books can be found on Amazon.com
My husband and I returned yesterday evening from a trip to San Antonio, TX. Having never been to that part of the country before, we expected autumn temperatures warmer than Ohio's, but the 90-degree weather and high humidity we experienced just felt wrong. With its landscape seared brown by the heat, south central Texas isn't a pretty place. The cool, damp weather of Ohio in November feels like autumn should.
We saw several of the usual attractions, including the famed Riverwalk and old Spanish Market. I toured the San Antonio Museum of Art and the Buckhorn Museum. We ate at Mi Tiera (thanks, Lyndean, for the recommendation!) and visited Lulu's for a 3 lb. cinnamon roll. We ate at some small mom-and-pop Mexican restaurants (excellent) and at the Hungry Farmer, a steakhouse (also excellent). It was also good to see an old friend from college, Jenny, plus her husband and their son who all live in Austin. But mostly, we concentrated on the limited time allotted to visit with our younger son, Brian, now a newly graduated airman. This serious young man surely can't be the cute, cheerful, and chubby toddler I once cuddled in my lap.
This is what the "experts" never tell mention about parenthood: that saying good-bye over and over tears a parent's heart. We said good-bye when he enlisted. We said good-bye again when visitation ended. He'll come to visit us--we expect him for Christmas--and then we'll say good-bye again. And again. And again.
Special thanks go to Tiki, Greg, Adam, and Natalie, who drove to San Antonio to visit with us and congratulate Brian in person. Our older son, Matt, begged indulgence from his professors to allow him the opportunity to attend his brother's graduation from basic military training. We're glad to say that Matt was able to make the journey, so we could spend time together as a family.
What will Brian remember from our visit? Probably the relaxed pace after the graduation ceremony, with people asking him what he wanted to do. He may remember the indulgence of a long, hard nap in the cool comfort of our hotel room. He may even remember how Mom and Dad wept, first with pride and joy and then with sorrow because we had to say good-bye again.
Brian ships out again soon. The Air Force is sending him to Pensacola, FL for training. He'll spend most of the winter there and then be assigned to a duty station where he'll likely spend the next three years. The boy who refused to plan ahead on homework assignments is now speaking about the next 30 years of service to his country.
Basic training has turned a volatile, moody boy into someone steady and mature--but without destroying his quirky sense of humor. I suspect that sense of humor has been necessary to get him through the rigors of military basic training. My boy has realized he's stronger and tougher than he thought. From our few days together, I can say with confidence that the Air Force has built Brian into an improved, better version of himself.
Where he once slouched, he now stands tall, so much so that I swear he grew another inch or two. From his anecdotes, it's apparent that his military training instructors (MTI) recognized his good qualities, namely his empathy for others. When one of his fellow recruits became sick or injured, they assigned Brian to see to their well-being. It also shows that he'd become dependable: the MTIs knew this young recruit would follow orders.
I'm proud of him. His father is proud of him. His entire family is proud of him.
Congratulations, Airman Brian! Your life's adventure is just beginning.