If Androids Dream of Electric Sheep, What Do Ghostwriters Dream Of?

If Philip K. Dick, a 1960s/70s sci-fi writer known for his sketched-out paranoia and hallucinatory prose, dreams of androids, and the androids dream of electric sheep, what do electric sheep dream of?

A. The green, Danny Boy fields of Ireland? “The pipes, the pipes are calling, from glen to glen…”

B. The fear of becoming knit and cabled into an oversized Icelandic sweater? Bah!

C. Of finally meeting Dolly, the first cloned sheep. Goddess. Miracle. The pride of 1996 Scotland and the future platform for human cloning.

Which brings us to the question that begs to be asked: What do ghostwriters dream of? Here’s 7 possibilities, and there’s no sign of electric sheep anywhere.

1. Ghostwriters dream of Jeannie, you know, that cute red-haired girl that works at the library who always has her black frame hipster glasses buried in a book. One day it’s Sartre, the next Thomas Mann. You wanna’ go out sometime? Catch a Bergman film. Yeah, you know the girl.

2. And genies. Because what enterprising freelancer doesn’t want to be granted three wishes? I wish I had money to pay the mortgage. I wish I had a mortgage. Yes, almost forgot, head in the clouds and all, I wish I had three more wishes.

3. Some scribblers might dream they’d written this nugget: “I do everything badly, sloppily, to get it over with so that I can get on to the next thing that I will do badly and sloppily so that I can then do nothing.” (Geoff Dyer)

Droll, paradoxical, yet precise, it’s the type of hardboiled sentence that reminds one of sharply folded hospital corners and English boarding schools.

4. It’s a dream within a dream in which the search for a perfect cup of coffee somehow morphs into a hero quest for a six-pack of West Coast IPA. You’re the hero. Or is the beer the hero?

5. You’ve sold your soul to the devil, and the ghostwriter contract has been drawn and written in blood. You will have unlimited work. There will never again be a dry spell. Hallelujah! But your damned for 2 cents a word until the pen or keyboard is pulled from your cold dead hand….and then, it’s 1 cent. Security costs, the devil says. That’s fire and brimstone for you.

6. You’re wearing a suit. It feels odd, yet strangely comfortable. You rush out the front door, leather briefcase in hand, equally strange, equally comfortable, and hurry to be at the commuter rail on time. Your wife or husband is waving at you from the porch. “Ladies and gentlemen, you’re entering the wondrous dimension of imagination. Next stop…The Twilight Zone.”

7. Cold sweats. Blurred vision. Heart palpitations. Don’t worry: You’re not standing stark naked at a podium in front of 10,000 people forgetting the power-points of your thesis on ____. It’s the Tell-tale Heart of your unfinished novel echoing in the drawer of the desk.

Damon H is a freelance writer available on WriterAccess, a marketplace where clients and expert writers connect for assignments.


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