I’m a ghostwriter for hire, so my days can be unpredictable. One day, I might have to stumble out of bed at 3 a.m. in order to make a 6 p.m. deadline. Other days, I might have the opportunity to catch up on some current events, hit the garden, or cook something (as opposed to defrosting and rewarming). I am at the mercy of my clients’ needs, and that’s just how I like it. In order to be hired, I must lower myself to subservience — and that’s just fine with me.
I know there’s a mass sentiment out there proclaiming the injustice of capitalism and its use of labor. Just yesterday, I listened to a radio caller bemoan the plight of the worker — how a man is paid $10/hour to dig a ditch but his employer collects $20/hour for that labor. Sure, at first blush that might seem to be a bit unfair. But, just for a moment, let’s look at the apple and the orange for what they really are: two fruits with very different growing requirements, benefits, and flavors.
The employee, the ditch digger who is invaluable to the employer, has not had to invest money and time in an education. There have been no internships to endure or corporate ladders to climb. He gets paid the moment he steps into that hole. When he’s finished his day’s work, he hangs up his shovel, gets into his car, and drives away from his job — literally and figuratively. He has no responsibility until he arrives on the jobsite the next day. He has earned his $80. He might aspire to become foreman, then project manager, then business owner someday, but until then, his pay is commensurate with his responsibility load.
The employer has likely dug ditches in the past (if he hasn’t, I think he should have), but is now responsible (with both time and money, either directly or indirectly) for the following: payroll, employee benefits, marketing, client relations, bidding, purchasing, permits, taxes, lease or mortgage, equipment purchase, legal fees, employee relations and interventions, and much more. His email and his phone don’t quit when he punches out. He bears the burden of keeping people employeed, happy, and productive. He has earned his $160. Like the employee’s pay, his is also commensurate with his responsibility burden.
I’m often asked if, as a ghostwriter, it bothers me that others take credit for, and make money from, my work. I can honestly say, “No.” You see, I’m a happy ditch digger. I do what I love and hand over a product that I know my client can use. From there, they earn their money by shouldering burdens like agenting, publishing, marketing, signing, touring, etc. I accept that the writing is only part of the whole (a large part, no doubt), and therefore I should get paid part of the whole.
I do have larger aspirations, but for now, as a busy wife and mother, I have chosen the part of the process that I love the most — the writing. With that, I am more than content; I am ecstatic. I am a ghostwriter for hire and a ghostwriter for lower. Both suit me just fine.