Rabid Fun

John Cowart's Daily Journal: A befuddled ordinary Christian looks for spiritual realities in day to day living.

Monday, June 05, 2006

Ghost Writer

Over the weekend a gentleman from down state called asking me about ghost writing a book for him.

He has read one of my history articles on line and thought I might be interested in writing his project. His research turned up information about a triple homicide here in Jacksonville in the year 1900 and he sees material for a book in that information.

I said, no. thanks.

Several times over the years people have approached me about ghost writing for them. I did it a couple of times but the project never was satisfactory.

I think everyone has to tell his own story.

Once years ago, a publisher called me because his company signed a contract with a famous singer (whom I had never heard of before, but then, I’m not a music person).

The singer had a book idea and sold the idea to the publisher without writing a word. Fame gives you that kind of option. The singer could sing but he could not write. Hence, the publisher wanted to recruit a ghost writer.

Problem was … the singer was a religious man. He felt God had inspired his idea, thus, he wanted stringent control over every word (even though he could not write himself!)

So the publisher offered to recruit three ghost writers. Each would submit a sample chapter and the singer would chose the writer he wanted to work with.

So, the singer came up with this test for prospective ghost writers:

He dreamed a dream.

He wanted each ghost writer to write a sample chapter and outline about his dream — but he would not tell us what it was that he had dreamed!

He felt the Holy Spirit would reveal his dream to the chosen writer.

The sample chapter and outline had to written between Christmas and New Years.

Would you believe that I actually tried to guess this guys dream and write a chapter based on it — Yes, big bucks were involved.

Well, the Holy Spirit must have told me the wrong dream.

My sample did not make the grade.

Someone else was chosen to write the singer’s book.

I don’t have what it takes to be a ghost writer.

Another time, a publisher called asking me to ghost write a book for a movie producer. The man had a solid idea and we exchanged phone calls and information.

For a while it looked as though the project was a GO.

But then Ginny and I went to a video store and rented six or eight of the guy’s movies. They made me feel leery of associating with him on the project.

I prefer a good honest skin flick to the sort of movie that undercuts morality in the guise of a main-stream, family, romance or adventure film – you know, the sort of thing that appears in so many tv sitcoms. Corrupting ideas and attitudes subtlety without being honestly pornographic.

Even though that ghost writing project would have paid big bucks and we needed the money, nevertheless, I decided that I wanted to do nothing to promote that producer’s kind of movie.

Like I said, everybody has to tell his own story.

Please, visit my website for more www.cowart.info and feel free to look over and buy one of my books www.bluefishbooks.info
posted by John Cowart @ 6:14 AM


At 4:56 PM, Blogger jellyhead said...

I like the stories you tell. You tell them so well.

I can hardly believe your tale of the man who wanted you to guess his dream. Truth is stranger than fiction, right?!

At 8:56 PM, Blogger John Cowart said...

Right, Jellyhead!

Ther amazing thing as I look back on the incident was that I was dumb enough to try the assignment! And the shame of it is, that the publisher who requested this kinky thing is actually a reputable, well-established firm...

Of course, as a writer I think all editors are insane or at least seriously warped.

At 11:59 AM, Anonymous Seth said...

Hi John,

I'm not really keen on the whole ghost writing thing. It's one thing if the person openly admits to having someone write the book for them but shouldn't the real writer get the credit? Maybe I just don't know how the writing business works.

I do agree with you about those movies/sitcoms that pretend to be virtuous. To be honest, I go for the Pulp Fiction type movies but I hate those thinly veiled “PG” movies. I've seen some PG-13 movies I would rather show to my children (if I had them) than those that received the PG rating. Sometimes language isn't the most profane thing; actions and underlying messages have a far deeper impact.

Take care John

At 4:42 PM, Blogger Laurieanne200 said...

I'm lucky I guess. I'm actually in the process of ghostwriting a book for a man. He has an amazing story to tell, is easy to work with, he is paying me very well, and we already have interest from an agent.

However I would require a lot more money than the generous amount he is paying me if he wasn't giving me a co-write credit on the cover.


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