Ghostwriters, picture these: sensitive bank robbers who are good fathers (and mothers); nuns who steal lacy underwear; doctors, lawyers, psychologists, veterinarians, and pastors who cheat and the ghostwriters who help them do it.
These must be characters in a short story I’m working on, right? Personalities with unexpected qualities…a little something to give them depth and interest, right?
Like Santa Claus said about the portly, bipedal chocolate candies in the Christmastime M&Ms commericial: “They do exist!”
There are a few types of ghostwriting jobs I’ll never take, and so-called “academic” ones are among them. When I first applied for one of these jobs, I soon realized that I was expected to ghostwrite someone’s thesis on green energy. Yes, for a grade. Yes, for their grade. Heck, I thought that “academic” meant I had to have a few functioning brain cells…that I had to ghostwrite with a semblance of intelligence. I soon learned differently. Of course, I opted out as a ghostwriter, but it wouldn’t be my last run-in with a potential paycheck in the sky. Not long after that, I was accosted by a medical student who needed a paper ghostwritten on the subject of cardio-pulmonary embolism. Yes, for a grade. Yes, for her grade. Just last month, a job came up that demonstrated the consequences of this practice: a college graduate with a degree in communications posted a job. He’d been out of work for two years; couldn’t find any work in his field. He pleaded, in broken grammar, for someone to ghostwrite his CV. I repeat: the man was a communications major.
When I’m due for my next physical, I think I just might stop by a hot dog cart. Or, maybe when it’s time to have my taxes done, I’ll consult with a cashier. Long gone are the days of sneaking a peek from a neighbor’s test or scribbling some notes on the palm of a hand. Cheating has grown to include assignments that directly contribute to (or seemingly detract from) our society’s morality and functionality. Students are paying thousands of dollars for one paper. They’re not hiring editors or consultants or ghostwriters to give them advice on flow — they’re hiring ghostwriters to do it all — from research to print.
And these students’ parents? Certainly, they know that a case of Ramen doesn’t cost two grand. As a ghostwriter with a semblance of a soul, and a strange “mole” that should probably be checked by a doctor, maybe I don’t want to know.
Caveat: I know there are plenty of career professionals who have earned every single award and commendation adorning their walls. They’ve spent sleepless nights and dreamlike days toiling for the grades that would afford them the opportunity to serve in a manner that their minds, hearts, and work ethics demanded. I’m sure the objects of my distaste are the minority. God, please, let them be the minority.
Are you a ghostwriter with similar experiences? Or are you a ghostwriter who makes a living taking these academic ghostwriting jobs? Let’s talk. I’d love to learn more.