It goes without saying that a prolific collection of books should be in the home of every half-respectable writer. Yet how much value does an in-depth awareness of literature have to a ghostwriter? At first consideration, its value seems relatively insignificant when considering the work that ghostwriters do, for their words are seldom their own.
On the other hand, it is easy to suppose its value lies in its ability to enhance your writing skills and creative thinking. Whilst this is indeed a part of it, there remains a greater significance in knowing the difference between Ernest Hemingway and Stephen King. Not that the latter should be spurned for his entertaining fiction, and at the same time not solely wishing to glorify so-called ‘canonical’ fiction, it is however essential to see the difference between the two types – what one can offer you whereas the other cannot.
So what can classical literature offer you? Well, the likes of Shakespeare can offer you an overstated sense of self-importance – we do all love quoting it!
Outside such levity, however, is the truth that for all ghostwriting an awareness of the cultural conventions that have formed the literature of today is an important feature. It lets us better know how to handle the variety of projects we get given, and more specifically, the projects that demand a little tact and delicacy when it comes to a certain subject or target audience.
Other than this, books of great literature are like carefully placed stepping stones that lead to a greater awareness in all things. It might sound a little mystic, and maybe even a tad crazy. But the truth is it can be hard to articulate how essential literature is to any writer, ghostwriters perhaps more than any. The multitude of services they offer demand that their knowledge is broad, and both experience and knowledge are derived from literature.
For example, as I writer I might have been stylistically influenced by the literature of Cormac McCarthy – if you get the chance, read it. A big part of this type of work is being able to think and perceive in a variety of ways – ways you would not usually expect. McCarthy offers this in abundance through his 10 novels. A warning however, they are not for the faint of heart, it is positively harrowing throughout – though it does offer a damn good read.