This is the definition of a ghostwriter.
Throughout history, those with something to say but not the tools to say it have called upon the anonymous talent of those with nothing to say, but the ability to say it.
Even God had a ghostwriter. The Creation of the World! As told to…
I have been a ghostwriter on various occasions, with mixed results. Once for a flamboyant French anthropologist with entertaining theories of the cultural unconscious that didn’t quite add up to something coherent when finally written down. Currently, for a show business manager and a psychic, both in various stages of development.
I ghost-wrote two published books for spiritual teachers who put an extreme premium on the secrecy of my role. This subjugation of ego and foregoing of credit is the price a ghostwriter pays for having nothing to say but the tools to say it. These books led me to coin what I thought a profound and fascinating phrase: “A spiritual ghostwriter.”
Sandford Dody, ghostwriter of the stars who penned best-selling memoirs for Bette Davis and Helen Hayes, died recently at the age of 90. He was never comfortable with his job, or the mandatory dessication of his ego. “How does one become a ghost without dying a little?” he asked poignantly. At the end of his career, he threw up his hands: “Let the next star write her own damned autobiography.”
Politicians have ghostwriters. They’re just called speechwriters, and no one thinks twice. John F. Kennedy uttered the poetry of his classic speeches with such verve and eloquence, history has never thought twice about the fact that he was, in the end, simply reading words someone wrote for him.
The world’s most famous female performer goes on and on, not really a singer or actress or writer or dancer, but a spectacle creator. Behind the spectacle is an army of the greatest music producers and arrangers, choreographers, stagecraft designers, filmmakers and dancers. But they are all ignored and unregarded, and all anyone knows is her name.
Fashion designers and brand name architects design their own work in the beginning, but as they become icons, legions of designers and assistants are mobilized to do the work under their supervision and under their name. The legions are ignored and unregarded, and all anyone knows is the designer’s name.
“The rain is full of ghosts tonight,” wrote poet Edna St. Vincent Millay.
She was reflecting on a voracious love life.
But she might just as well have been referring to the structure of our world: an invisible universe of ghosts, toiling away ignored and unregarded in the subterranean basements of our culture, as the brand names we worship glitter out here in the sunlight.