Welcome to The Ghost
What to expect here and other things
Welcome to my newsletter, where I share musings on the writing life and life in general. This is my “launch” post, where I tell you why I’m here and what to expect. But would you be disappointed if I said I wasn’t sure?
What I do know is that I feel a sense of energy writing here that I haven’t felt in some time. Something is pulling me in a direction, to say something at this place in this time—and these days, I try to trust such prompts.
When it comes to creative work, I do not believe you should bulldoze your way through every obstacle. Some bumps in the road require a slowing down so that you can tune in to the terrain and take your time with each turn. Yet, there does come a time when the spirit overcomes you, and you must make something right this very instant. This immediacy must also be listened to and understood.
That’s what I’ve felt lately, and I’m happy to make this place my writing home on the web, at least for a while. But there I go, waxing poetic when I should be telling you about the benefits of subscribing to this newsletter. I’m not sure what those are, exactly, but here’s my best attempt:
If you subscribe to this newsletter, you’re going to get thoughts like this on the nature of creative work, how making things is a metaphor for life (and vice versa), and some tips I’ve learned over the years from being an author, speaker, and accidental entrepreneur.
A little about me
If we haven’t met yet, I’m Jeff Goins. I write books for a living—both for myself and other people. I am a bestselling author and ghostwriter, as well as a retired online writing teacher and lifetime coffee snob.
I run a small boutique writing and editing agency called Fresh Complaint, where we help thought leaders plan, write, and edit their books.
Recently, I’ve rebooted my life after a number of unexpected events, including a pandemic divorce and a surprise wedding (more on the latter soon). I’m just now starting to get a sense of what’s next, and that feels exciting.
But we’re getting ahead of ourselves here.
In 2010, I started a creative journey where I invited a small group of people to join me in exploring what it means to be a writer. I didn’t know if I had what it took to become a professional, so I catalogued the process as I went, sharing the lessons learned in real time. The result was a full-time writing career resulting in five books, a couple bestsellers, a number of online courses, in-person events, and other creations. I learned a lot, burnt myself more than once, and eventually reconnected with the reason I started this journey in the first place.
In the same spirit, I am now entering a new season of writing, not knowing what’s on the other side. Once again, my goal is to share what I learn, but this time the question isn’t whether or not I can be a writer, but can I be a good one? Can I be true to my vocation amidst the temptations and trappings of fame and success? I suspect I am not alone in that curiosity. In my view, every creative endeavor is a story of community, so it’s only appropriate to document this next season of work and share it with others.
Why “The Ghost”?
A few years ago, I stumbled upon a new career as a ghostwriter. At the time, I was wrestling with my own sense of existential angst and living through a global pandemic. I had reached the top of the mountain only to find air, so it made sense to spend my days receding from public life, helping others shine.
The most surprising revelation in this work has been that I am not the Ghost. The invisible being that brings words to life is not, in fact, me. It’s not the author, either, who very well might be considered the originator of the ideas that end up in a book. No, the Ghost is something else, something deeper.
In writing over a dozen books, half of which have other people’s names on the covers, I’ve learned to look for a third voice in the exchange. Every collaboration between two or more people always contains another invisible Person. Jung called it the collective unconscious. Some might be so bold as to name it God or the Muse.
I like the Ghost.
Whatever moniker you give it, something powerful comes to the forefront of our imaginations when we collaborate on a creative project—something I dare call spiritual. It arrives mysteriously and leaves just as unexpectedly. This power stalks us in the corners of our minds, showing up in places we least expect or even want. Such a presence haunts us, ushering in ideas and stories no single individual could have come up with on their own but that at once feel strangely familiar once you stumble upon them.
This magic of creativity is what makes my job so interesting. Anyone who has ever made anything knows that creative work will always surprise you—so long as you remain open to the unexpected. Whether it’s a writing a poem, opening a sushi shop, or building a home, every honest creation defies explanation. What you create cannot be fully understood or put into words.
And yet, I will try to do just that.
Every creative act is a conversation—not just between you and the audience, but between you and the work itself. This newsletter and community around it is a collaboration. As we interact, you and I through these little notes that mean something different to each of us, may we learn to listen for a third voice, one that emerges in the midst of our conversing, a “fourth figure” in the fire of creation—something invisible arriving between you, me, and the screen—helping us see what we might otherwise miss.
Also, I thought it sounded cool. ;)
Welcome to the Ghost. Whether you’ve followed my work for years now or are just getting acquainted, thank you for the opportunity to say something. It means more than you know.
Ways to get involved
If you become a paid subscriber to this newsletter, you’ll get access to an exclusive community where I’ll share behind-the-scenes stuff on the inner workings of a writer, the current state of publishing as I see it, and the business of being an author. I don’t pretend to know much about any of this beyond my own limited experiences, but I’m happy to share whatever appears along the path.
Most articles will be free (for now), but paid subscribers will have more access to me and get the inside track on new projects. I’ll share with you monthly Q&As and other fun things we may come up with together (I’ll be looking to our inner circle to help me with that).
So that’s my pitch. If any of my words have meant anything to you over the years, consider joining this endeavor. Or, if you’re new and this sounds interesting, I’d love to have you! It’ll be an exploration for us both. My hope is that this newsletter will be an honest, raw, helpful place for writers, creatives, and readers alike.
If you choose to come along, I’d love to have you. You can always unsubscribe at any time without any hassle. If you’re “in,” leave a comment to this post and share a little about yourself. And, of course, make sure you subscribe. I’ll take the time to read each comment and do my best to respond. Let’s see where this thing takes us.
All the best,
P.S. Make sure you add me to safe senders and drag this email out of any spam filters or promotions tabs it may have gotten stuck in. The email address this is coming from should be firstname.lastname@example.org. Make sure you add that to your contact list or whatever. I don’t even know what I’m even talking about. Maybe this will help.
P.P.S. I need a logo! If you’re a designer, send me an email. I’d love to work with you. My goal is to involve as much of the audience in what I create here.