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literature

Ghostwriter

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Back when I was alive, I used to complain that I never had enough time to write. That’s always the excuse, isn’t it? Yes, I have a free half-hour now, but that isn’t nearly enough time to be truly inspired. Might as well finish this crossword puzzle, first.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t have anything against a fellow cruciverbalist; time just happens to be mostly meaningless, nowadays. I could easily sleep through the next few centuries, except for the fact that I am perfectly content where I am at the moment.

These days, it’s progressively difficult to find a working typewriter.



When I first died of a heart attack back in ‘56, I was so overcome with despair at my own death that I immediately fell asleep for several decades, finally awaking to find a suddenly and drastically altered world. Not only had I to mourn the imminent death of the paperback book, what with the increasing popularity of those ridiculous electronic books, but that of the typewriter, as well. That great and mighty instrument, my most faithful companion, was dead! Computers were taking over the world; all there was left to do was sit and watch as the world lost connection with reality.

I remember my typewriter, the one I used at the height of my writing career. She was a beauty: bright red with black keys, shiny, an Olivetti Valentine typewriter. I called her Betty. Together, we ruled the literary world—that is, until my death abruptly ended our partnership. I wonder where she is, now: in a pawn shop, an antique store, a descendant’s house. Or, perhaps it had been sold to the highest bidder immediately after my death. The great Arthur Dorian’s favourite typewriter, bidding starts at $100. Either way, she was nowhere near my current residence, with the Williams family.

It’s a nice enough place, large, with high ceilings to which I can float up and watch the family’s comings and goings. I’ve learned to be silent—no rattling chains or howling echoes for me. But best of all, they are in the possession of a typewriter.

He—I call him Charles—is nothing like Betty. Grey, dirty, missing its “V” key, and electric, so he makes a horrifying whirring sound whenever I feel the need to write. But honestly, he’s the only thing stopping me from going back to sleep, because I’m terrified of what I might find when I wake up again. Who knows when I’d find another typewriter?

So, on weekdays, once the kids are gone to school for the day and their parents, to work, I sit down in Edmund Williams’ study, set up the typewriter, and write. When I first began this practice, a few years ago, it was difficult for me to remain solid enough to type. I would be so engrossed in my work that I would lose my concentration and my solidity, and my fingers would go straight through the keys. Sometimes, I didn’t even notice until after several minutes had passed and several hundred words had passed through my head. After awhile, it became a habit, and now it almost never happens.

Eventually, I began sending my manuscripts off to publishing houses. To them, I was simply a very reserved man who was greatly influenced by the works of Arthur Dorian. Sooner or later, they will become suspicious, I suppose. After all, long after they die, I will still be there, anonymously sending in differently rearranged versions of the alphabet.

A writer’s life is a lonely one, but it is even more lonely in death.
Word count: 600 (exactly!)

This is an entry for the Devil's in the Details competition which closes on August 17th!

I've been playing with the idea of a ghost who is a ghostwriter for a long time, and this contest finally gave me the excuse to get it done. So yay!, except that I don't like this piece very much. It sounded better in my head, I think. So if anyone has any ideas as to how it could be improved, please let me know!
Published:
© 2013 - 2021 GuinevereToGwen
Comments13
anonymous's avatar
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BlueRedDog's avatar
:star::star::star-empty::star-empty: Overall
:star::star::star-empty::star-empty::star-empty: Vision
:star::star::star-half::star-empty::star-empty: Originality
:star::star::star-empty::star-empty::star-empty: Technique
:star::star::star::star-empty::star-empty: Impact

The title ghostwriter can be interpreted in different ways. A ghostwriter is a writer who writes texts that are credited to another person. The name of the person who has written the text is unknown. He or she is like a ghost for other people.

In this art piece you use the word ghostwriter in many ways. To describe the dead writer who has become a ghost after a heart attack. After the long sleep the world has changed. Things that were part of his live have disappeared. The people of this new world do not know the old world. A feeling that the old world died in the memories of the people in this world. The old world and the writer have become ghosts and are not part of the memories of the people in this world.

Looking for people who remember the old world, the writer finds a typewriter and calls him Charles. When the people of the house are not there he writes new pieces. These he send to publishers pretending to be someone else. He could not use his old name because dead people cannot write. While pretending to be someone else he becomes a ghostwriter.

But what happens when the people who know him as ghostwriter die? Will he as ghostwriter die again and become more lonelier then he is now? Will the reason to write also disappear in a new world many years later?

What I like about the piece is that it expresses the word ghostwriter in many ways. This also lets me think about what happens when the world changes as the time passes on. What will become a ghost in the new world is a question that keeps alive in mine mind.

The reason and motivation of the writer to write pieces is what I miss in the art piece. Even when he died, he continues to make new pieces. The life of a writer is a lonely one, then why did he choose to live this way?
GuinevereToGwen's avatar
Why does anyone write, in that case? Because writers need to write; it's who they are. Everyone has different reasons to write, but we all have one thing in common: we don't have a choice in the matter. So I imagine that even when we die, we will still feel that need to write.

Thank you so much for the critique, although it was mostly a summary of what I'd already written. :/ But it still means a lot when someone takes the time to read one of my pieces and let me know about what they think. :)
BlueRedDog's avatar
For a writer to write a piece is part of its live. In the first chapter the writer reflects on its life. I get the idea he doesn’t like to write. When he is a ghost he creates new pieces. Maybe the writer has a reason why he wants to create new pieces.  That’s what I thought when reading your art piece.
But after reading your comment I think the only reason why he writes is because he is a writer.  

The reason to create a summary is to show the different ways you used the word ghostwriter. I liked the way you used the different ways of this word in your art piece. :love:
GuinevereToGwen's avatar
Ah, I see. Thank you so much, then. :D
MaxxToron's avatar
:star::star::star::star: Overall
:star::star::star::star::star-half: Vision
:star::star::star::star::star-empty: Originality
:star::star::star::star-empty::star-empty: Technique
:star::star::star::star::star: Impact

I really liked this short story. I really liked how your character seems almost repelled by the idea of using modern technology to write. He uses this old, beat-up typewriter when I'm sure it wouldn't be hard for him to find a computer to use just because he believes that the old way of writing is the only way. It really opens up perspective into the history of writing and how much we've changed.

I'm not exactly a grammar Nazi (I just play one on TV) so I didn't catch any grammatical errors. The one and pretty much only thing I didn't like about your story was that I'm not sure about it's classification. It was a great piece of flash fiction, but there's really no concrete plot. It's just the ghost of Arthur Dorian kind of talking about being a ghost. I mean, I'm not 1,000 percent sure of the exact classification, but I don't think the story qualifies as technically a short story. Just my two cents.

Anyways, a great story that really gave me a lot of perspective into my craft.
GuinevereToGwen's avatar
Mmmh, I think you're right... I'll change the classification, then. Thanks for the advice!
JeffreyRebowlski's avatar
Its kind of sad-very much a story you'd find in the 50's. 
GuinevereToGwen's avatar
Thank you - I think. ;)
MaxxToron's avatar
I really liked this story. I'm a little pressed for time right now, but I'll write you a full critique later.
GuinevereToGwen's avatar
Thank you so much, that would mean so very much to me! :D
MaxxToron's avatar
Done. Hope you like it mademoiselle.  
GuinevereToGwen's avatar
Thank you so much! I love critiques. :) I'll be sending one your way as a thank you as soon as I can.
anonymous's avatar
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