person in ghost costume waving

The New Yorker article was so good it made me want to buy the book. So I placed it on hold at the library, and I’m now waiting behind hundreds of people.

I’m talking about the New Yorker article “The Ghostwriter” (published online as Notes From Prince Harry’s Ghostwriter), by J. R. Moehringer, who ghostwrote Prince Harry’s memoir, Spare. Moehringer notes several times in the article that a ghostwriter shouldn’t speak out publicly, and yet he does so brilliantly in this piece. It was fascinating to get a behind-the-scenes look at the making of the book—and the making of the ghostwriter.

One thing about the article frustrated me, though. Moehringer has published a memoir of his own, and he writes this about the torturous process of writing it:

“Every attempt failed, and every failure took a heavy psychic toll. Some days, it felt like a physical blockage, and to this day I believe my story would’ve remained stuck inside me forever if not for one editor at the [Los Angeles] Times, who on a Sunday afternoon imparted some thunderbolt advice about memoir that steered me onto the right path.”

But he never says what that thunderbolt advice was! He only notes that he wanted to help his first client, Andre Agassi, work through such problems in a similar way as the editor helped him.

I guess ghostwriters must have their secrets.

But though he withholds his secrets about writing, he does reveal a secret about ghostwriting:

“Opposition is true Friendship, William Blake wrote, and if I had to choose a ghostwriting credo, that would be it.”

He explains that his job is to fight for good writing, even if he doesn’t win most of the battles. Because in the end, it’s not his book, it’s his client’s. But, he says, the most loyal thing he can do for his client is to guide them toward good writing.

Do you agree that opposition is true friendship?