Inquiry: Ghostwriting, Memory and Bach’s Air on G String, Suite no. 3

Credit: Violin - Gottlieb Painting

by LJ Frank

I write stories. Some are fiction. Others are non-fiction. It depends on the project and the wishes of the client. Being a ghost (ghostwriter) involves among other attributes – the ability to hold on to a thought and an image or being able to retrieve it with a stimulus.

A stimulus is complex – it could be a gesture, a smile or a look from a stranger, a chance and unexpected meeting leading to an exchange of a single idea or thought, it could be a tragedy, a death, or other moment of heartbreak, or a hug and a kiss, or a celebration and a song or tune in the background that repeatedly plays and dances in your mind or even revealed in a text message – the result may cause you to remember an event or person or experience and you may find yourself pursuing a course of action, different from the one you had carefully planned for the day, week or well beyond. And the prism of time engages and affects all memories and subsequent actions.

During a morning over a recent weekend I received a text message. The person communicating to me asked me to either call or text her back about writing an article. It would be a relatively small ghostwriting project. “I know we haven’t talked to each other in such a very long time. I’m sorry for that. Larry, it’s urgent. Thanks.” She gave me her full name. I didn’t recognize the surname.

“I apologize. Please remind me where me met.”

“Sorry. I should have mentioned it. We worked together decades ago. Graduate school. We subsequently went, figuratively and literally, in different directions.”


“Perhaps this will help. You used to listen Bach’s Air on String sitting at a cubicle in the Graduate Library stacks, while writing your essays.”

“You remember that? Oh my god…this is…”

“Yeah, it’s me.”

“Thanks…how did you find me?”

“Where else?”

“It’s not too mysterious. How can I help you?”

“I’m needing an essay for a publication that is due by the middle of next week. It’s about a person.” She mentioned his name.

“Done. I’ll call you…so we can catch up and then discuss in-depth the nature of the article and I’ll have an outline to you within twenty-four hours.”


“It’s my pleasure.”

“Thank you!”

“You’re welcome. I’ll call you within the half-hour.”

I turned on Ernesto Cortázar’s Beethoven’s Silence...and wrote down the following:

Place a composer’s name, tune, song, composition and or experience after client’s name…