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Sunday, 16 February 2014

The Invisible Man – or, The Joy of Ghost Writing



The picture, regrettably, has nothing to do with what follows. It’s a memento of our trip to Lapland three years ago. I put it there to brighten the day. They do winter so much better up near the Russian border.

One of the pleasures of working for yourself is that, when you feel the need to down tools and reflect, there’s nobody there telling you to get on with your work. Which is good news for a guy who likes to reflect, who's always trying to make sense of the past, re-constructing the narrative in order to come up with the story I want to tell, about who I am and where I came from.

These last few weeks I’ve been wondering what would become of the sci-fi manuscript I completed just before Christmas. All I’d had, since I whizzed it off to China, was a brief note from the intermediary out there, telling me that he was really enjoying it. Then, this week, came a consultancy report. I rather dreaded reading that. What if it said I was wasting my time trying to write science fiction – or indeed any kind of fiction? I braced myself, and opened it up.

According to the writer of the report – an eminent scholar, very knowledgeable in the genre fiction and sci-fi scene – my script has ‘intelligent action movie written all over it’. He loves it, and thinks it should go straight to an agent, thence to a publisher. He thinks it’s ‘a joy to read’ and ‘a no nonsense, unpretentious page-turner’. Normally, of course, this would call for champagne and high-grade protein. But the lot of the ghost writer is not normal. Instead of turning cart-wheels I went into reflective mode once more. What if it does sell? What if it becomes a movie? A block-buster? Well, tough. My handsome fee, paid promptly upon delivery of the manuscript, is sitting in the bank gathering dust where it might, ten years ago, have gathered interest. The Man has had his final word. Thankyou, Mr Wilkinson. Here’s your money. And the maid will see you out.
Ghosts are invisible, right? 

I'm afraid that is indeed the case.

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