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Ghostwriting a memoir has left me thinking a lot about the intersection between ghostwriter and narrator, narrative and reader, reader and perception, perception and that originally perceived (the original experience of the person whose story the ghostwriter is writing/has written). The experience of ghostwriting has been like a version of communication itself sprung to life, in that there are so many routes to getting the meaning across–originating in the mind of the communicator, merging to the translation from thought into speech, from speech into the hearer’s interpretation… It’s like this with ghostwriting as in communication, only there are a few more paths the translation has to take before it makes it to the paper, and ultimately to the mind and interpretation of the reader.

Not only is there the experience of the person who is the subject of the book–there is the way it happened, and then the way they remember it; then there is the way it is narrated, which is heard and then processed by the writer, who then morphs it into its form on the page. Take into consideration on top of this a narrator whose first language is other than the language the book is written in, and you see my point.

This is how a memoir becomes a memoir, and why it is not considered instead, nonfiction or documentary. There are too many routes and interpretations and translations to the truth. And because I am someone other than the person who experienced the events, I am in essence required to reshape my identity from an objective listener to mold to that of the person who originally experienced the events. There is a good deal of creativity in staying true to the narrated perception of the events: my he becomes I, and I imagine myself in someone else’s shoes as nearly as possible.

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