Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Ghost Writing

So you all know I watch those zany Real Housewives, as I have said before, they are my favorite guilty pleasure. I watch them all. Much to my delight, Real Housewives New York debuted last night and the antics started immediately. Back are almost all of the women (minus LuAnne) and the fireworks begin when Aviva begins talking about her book deal. Aviva was the one housewife everybody had a problem with when we left them last season, so it was amazing to me that she spent the first episode making amends for her bad behavior and then the second episode destroying all that hard work.

But this post is not about that, per se, this post is about what happened when Carole and Aviva engaged in what is now known on social media sites as #bookgate. Quick history: Carole Radziwill is a journalist by trade, and has worked in the news media and magazine world for what she says is 20 years. She calls herself a "writer", claiming "that's what I do" and she has written 2 books, one which reached the New York Time Best Seller List. Aviva Drescher is what one could call a true NY housewife, who according to Carole, "never had a job outside the home". The second season drama is over Aviva's book deal with a publisher and a lunch between Aviva and Carole where the topic of ghost writers came into discussion.

A ghost writer according to Wikipedia " is a writer who writes books, articles, stories, reports, or other texts that are officially credited to another person." 

Sounds interesting, and if you think so, read on. Aviva and Carole discuss the topic of using a ghost writer. Neither claims to have used one, and then things get hairy. The awkward lunch takes a turn for the worst and Carole takes offense at Aviva's intimation that she used a ghost writer on her first book. Aviva then goes on a gossip campaign, telling all of the other Housewives that "her publishing house told her that Carole used a ghost writer on her first book"  A lot of back an forth takes place, but what sticks in my mind is Carole's objection to the whole topic of ghost writing. Carole has a real point here: she is a career journalist. She has built that career working for news organizations, writing for magazines and working in the field as a journalist for many years. Her books stand alone and her pedigree is impeccable, so I stand behind her when she feels that her reputation as a writer is being called into question. She has earned the right to be called a professional in her trade.

Aviva is a housewife of several wealthy men (not at the same time), and now a reality TV star whose personal story of triumph (she had her leg amputated at a young age in a horrific accident)  is inspirational at best. She was well educated an evidently academic enough to score a book deal with a professional publishing house.

What's the problem ladies? OK, I understand Carole's objection to Aviva telling the entire WORLD on TV that Carole used a ghost writer when she didn't. According to me 'dems is fighting words, and its dirty pool when you try to discredit someone's career. But Carole is not without fault. Because Aviva is not a "journalist" it's not to say she can't become a "writer" and that the idea that she could sit down and write a draft for a book on her own absurd.

Here's what I mean: I have a Master's Degree in Journalism from Boston University. I have this daily blog that I have pretty much written every weekday for 7 years. Before that, I worked briefly writing in local news and TV. Does that give me the right to call myself a writer? Do I need the pedigree of a paycheck from a news organization or a national magazine to lay claim to that? And if not, can I never claim to be somewhat of a writer? What about all those people out there who extensively journal every day, write short stories or blogs? Are they fraudulent "writers" too?

I'm not sure I understand this whole thing. Who has the right to say who a writer really is? I don't deny that hard work and career accolades are definitely constitute a profession. But does that mitigate someone who puts a pen to paper or a finger to a keyboard.......then hits the publish button?

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