Confessions of a Ghost Writer - The Big Scary

Updated: Dec 18, 2019

Maya Bonhoff, Offworld Member

I read a column this morning in CodeLikeaGirl (on Medium) in which Kira Leigh eloquently expressed the sheer scariness of pursuing a career as a freelancer. I was compelled to respond because while Kira is fairly new at freelancing, I’ve been doing it for a while now and I wanted to share my story.

It seemed somehow fitting that I post it here, too.

I’ve been freelancing as a ghostwriter, editor, book doctor and cover designer for about twelve years now. The good news is that it becomes mostly less scary. The bad news is that you may still have bouts with poser syndrome. My particular variety has to do with the quality of my writing—which has won me a “New York Times Bestseller” banner that I can put on my own books—and my qualifications to be attending professional writing or genre conferences. I suffer Poser Heebee-jeebies before every convention I attend.

I first toyed with the idea of quitting my day job as the manager of a software development team back when my third novel came out. I didn’t pull the trigger, though. I told myself I liked my job too much. I liked the people I worked with too much. Both of those things were true, but the real reason I didn’t quit my job to write full time was that it was scary. It took several years of watching the company I worked for go down hill to get me to hang out my “moonlighting” freelance shingle. I punched up my high tech resume, though I really no longer wanted to do high tech. My heart was no longer in it.

Within days of me creating a moonlighting page on my website, I and my entire department got laid off and I was drop-kicked out of a company I’d worked for for 15 years. Oddly, I was ecstatic. Energized. I took it as a tap on the shoulder from God: “Follow your calling. Do what you love.” I spent the rest of the day working on my website, put my CV out on a number of freelancing and job search sites, and by the end of the week, I had my first freelance writing job—from a connection, believe it or not. I have not looked back.

I’ve even gotten cheeky enough to fire a particularly difficult client.

I wish you all the success in the world. And share some advice I got early in my writing career: If the world is blowing up, write. If chaos is breaking out all around you, write. If everything in your world is falling apart, write. And if everything is going better than you could possibly have expected, write. No matter what, just write. It is our way (to borrow a phrase from my hero, Ray Bradbury) of making reality behave by pretending to look the other way.

Take care, big hugs and adios.

Maya is lovely and we’re proud she’s a member of the Offworld Team.

You've just read an article from The Offworld Author's Guide to Self Publishing (Ongoing), a mix of information and articles from the world of writing stuff.

We will be tackling all the things you'll need to take care of in your Self-Publishing journey including Ghostwriting, Editing, Proofreading, Book Funding, Book Design, Book Production, Book Rights, Book Reviews, Book Publishing, Book Publicity, Book Promotion and Social Media, Literary Agent Pitch, Promo Videos, Audiobooks, Translation, Author Websites, Search Engine Optimisation, Screenplay Adaptation, Film Makers, Film Producers and Original Music.

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