Chasing the Ghost Writer

Last time I was at my grandmother’s house in Normandy, she called me into the basement to show me something. It was a box full of notepads, sketchpads and pencil cases, all the pages used, all the pencils blunt. It was all the thoughts I’d ever had as a child, all the stories I’d started and never finished, all the poems, drawings (mainly of horses and dresses) and registers (if you didn’t play teachers with your toys as a child, I’m assuming you weren’t born on Earth) I’d scribbled down in progressively neater handwriting.

As I read through my own words, I had the same thought I have now when I re-read my essays, blogs or copy: did I really write that?!

Rarely do I write something I’m genuinely proud of by sitting down and going: OK, type now. What actually happens is this; I’ll have a little acorn of an idea in my head. I know I’m going to want to write about a certain topic. And then, usually when I’m in the most inconvenient environment possible for writing, a voice will pipe up in my head. The voice – a narrator, if you will – will all of a sudden come out with the most perfect opening lines. And then there I am, frantically trying to either remember or scribble down what this narrator, this ghost writer, is saying. It’s like she doesn’t care that her words are absolutely tantamount to me creating a perfect piece of writing, that the adjectives and turns of phrase she picks from thin air are making my eyes water because of how seamlessly they flow. She stays just ahead of me, delivering this flurry of beautiful language that I’m sure I’ve never heard before, almost revelling in her own creativity.

And then she fades, along with my adrenaline, her voice trailing off in the distance. Finally I find myself alone again, typing less erratically and racking my brain for – oh, what’s that word again?

Ghost writer, I would chase you until the end of time.