Somewhere across the world, I’m a white man with two beautiful eyes. Had it been anywhere else, you’d recognize my face—but not in California. You wouldn’t know me because I’m divorced and my ex-wife Alice has the kid, who’s 12 now and is at the top of her class. I, on the other hand, couldn’t care less.
In Canada, my life is way worse—I’m a vegan and a broke college student. Sometimes, I wish I were in the UK where I’m an aging pop star rumored to be dating a guy half my age. In the darkest of nights, I find myself in the arms of India where I was a former BPO supervisor. My English was fantastic, and that makes me so much hotter than I actually am.
In my career as a writer, I’ve been everyone except myself. For the past few years, my work has been under multiple names, most of which I can’t even pronounce. I don’t mind that my thoughts—weeks’ worth of crippling research—aren’t my own, at least commercially. The pay is handsome. My lifestyle is lavish. It’s a small price to pay to kiss my own ego.
Ghostwriting wasn’t even among my ambitions. In my youth, I’ve dreamed of many things. I thought I would become a marvelous lawyer because I was smart and slightly manipulative. Then I thought I’d become an engineer like my uncle. When he founded his own company, I wanted to be as filthy rich as he was. My dreams change all the time.
What remained constant throughout my life were the things I didn’t want to be. I didn’t want to fail. I didn’t want to be that kid who excelled in class only to be poor and pitiful later on. I didn’t want to be the family disappointment. There were a lot of things I didn’t like including my own interests. So when I finished college, I’ve already decided that I won’t make a living out of my hobbies.
Honestly, none of this was hard. I had a business degree which basically means I can work anywhere. But anywhere is almost unreachable. I’ve sent resumes to ESL companies, banks, my former university, and the local mall here in our city. Did I get a callback? Yes. But only after pestering them with my charms and oh so aggressive attitude.
It never occurred to me to ever make a living out of writing. I’ve been a campus journalist since I was in sixth grade as a feature editor. I was editor-in-chief of our high school campus paper. But the thing is, I love writing so much that I can’t bear to make money out of it. I thought that if I live off of it, I would lose the burning passion to write.
Of course, I was right. Lately, I find myself feeling sick to my stomach just looking at my laptop. I work 12-14 hours a day because I have two jobs. My brain manufactures more than 5,000 words each day. None of those would carry my name. They’ll be filed under the company’s editorial team or a foreign name that sound’s more trustworthy than mine.
I don’t mind it all—as I said, a small price to pay. But sometimes I imagine John Doe getting all the praises for an article he didn’t produce. In my life, no one has ever told me I did a good job until they have to tell me I did a good job for documentation. I only know I did a good job once I look at my bank account.
The worst part is, I never get to write out of pleasure anymore. Everything since has become a transaction. My words are now currency. I recognize I am more privileged even in a state of extreme stress but I could never afford a day off. I’m saving up for every person in my family and there aren’t just enough words to describe how frustrating it is doing it alone.
I think that’s what pisses me off. Knowing that whoever uses my content is living a good life. Perhaps he sleeps for eight hours each day or maybe she has just gotten her first car. Maybe she’s returning to Thailand for the second time this year or maybe he just launched a new business because I helped him with his sales pitch.
On any other day though, I really can’t care. I’m happy to do my job— end of story. Occasionally, it keeps me up at night. I think about their faces and their big smiles next to their author bios. I humble myself thinking that I used them too as platforms to get my content out there. Some days, it’s enough to let me sleep like a newborn.
Then again, it’s just business. No need to be attached at all. At the end of the day, it’s a service that people buy just like anything else. You might come across me at some point somewhere on the internet. You wouldn’t know I wrote that. And I pray to God that you won’t because my clients will kill me. I don’t want to dig myself out of the grave just to rewrite.