I have been feeling somewhat disillusioned and cynical recently and in the wee hours of this morning (sleepless again) I spent some time pondering the source of my cynicism. I realized that it’s about truth, or lack thereof, in communications and media that I’ve observed recently.

On some level I suppose I have always known that high profile people giving speeches have behind-the-scenes people crafting a message with the right words to impart the desired message; after all some people are just better at communicating via the written word than others. Okay.

But recently I have observed that same approach in communication used by other, perhaps not so high profile, individuals who take words that have been written by someone else and put them out as if they were their own and it bothers me. Why not be honest about the authorship? Wordsmithing and polishing a message written by someone is one thing, but creating it in its entirety and running it by the individual for a “yay” or “nay” is something else altogether.

Then there is the recently publication of Justin Bieber’s memoir First Step 2 Forever: My Story. That a sixteen year-old has had the life experience worthy of a memoir is debatable to begin with, but what bothers me more is that he is credited with writing the book.  At sixteen years of age Mr. Bieber has attained a goal that I have dreamed of for much of my life: he has an ISBN number!

Did he sit down in between school, touring, and hanging out with his friends and family and actually pen this book himself? I can’t say for sure. What I do know for sure is the effort that goes in to writing a memoir; I’m working on the fifth draft of mine and, in my life, it’s not always easy to carve out dedicated writing time. I do have roughly thirty-six more years of life experience that I’m dealing with than Mr. Bieber so that might complicate my story as well.

Sarcasm aside, I don’t know for sure who wrote the book and in the grand scheme of things it probably doesn’t matter. It’s the trend toward, what I perceive as, deliberate deception that gets under my skin.

One thing I know for sure: when I do get my own ISBN number I guarantee that the book it belongs to will have been written by me. And only me.


I’m a writer, reader, and creative. I thought by now I’d have things figured out, but I keep coming up with more questions. I think that’s okay. I’m here most mornings pondering ordinary things.
  1. Some ghostwriter made money by doing it for him.It always bothers me when someone says they wrote a book when we know they didn’t.
    I look forward to the day you have your own ISBN 🙂

    1. I am looking forward to Terri Tiffany’s first ISBN as well!

  2. I know exactly what you mean. But consider the title of Mr. Bieber’s book: Perhaps he did write it. Perhaps his secret is that it’s a collection of tweets.

    You can take comfort from the knowledge that when you get your ISBN, your readers will bring more to the page, and get more from it, than Mr. Bieber’s will.

    1. Hmmm…I never thought of that, Kathy. Maybe it is tweet-based! I don’t mean to bash Justin at all. It’s just that I know there are so many hard working writers out there who deserve to be published.

  3. I identified with the first part of your story – as I now seem to mostly encounter ‘life coaches’ who learned from, and they learned from and they learned from . . . yet I understand everyone is tutored by someone else. I have an example of when I realized the limit of originality had come to an end when attending a seminar hosted by James Ray who quickly worked some good-hearted people into a froth and ending with them galloping across the ballroom to plunk down $1200 for a seminar “date yet to be determined in a location yet to be determined” with the finesse of a snake oil salesman. When he appeared on Oprah, he didn’t seem so shiny, but this night his appearance was too much for me and I actually sat in a corner, on the carpet and nearly snoozed. My friend, being one of those who charged over to the table with her charge card had invited me. I had his book, per his O appearance and wanted his signature. As I stood in line I saw the fake smile with which he greeted every guest, purring especially over those who held the bag indicating they had just committed the $1200 for an event they knew not where nor when. Now – My tie-in is that I seriously doubt he wrote his own book totally on his own – rather a version of so many of the self-help books that have flooded the market. I may be incorrect as he is a skilled speaker but I suspect he had a team of writers pick through other’s books until he had one he could claim as his. (Ray later went on to a disastrous experience with a sweat lodge event in AZ and remains in jail awaiting trial – if any of that rings a bell.)

    Justin Bieber? Somehow I think he talked his book to people who wrote it for him, as I doubt his talents allow much time for writing. (#2 how hungry are we / young girls for his story?) As a ghost writer myself, I would not have a problem writing a book for someone who had a story but not the experience or desire to write down their own words. Is it much different from an editor who might take his phrases and edit them into something marketable?

    My 3-cents – will be interested to see what feedback you have for me.

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