I tried to coax imagery from my clients. When someone described a girlfriend as beautiful, I asked him to describe her in a certain moment. He said she looked so lovely when she held a baby. That was better. Some people really delivered.

“I told you about my dream of you at the opera, wearing seven different coats, and a pair of brown gloves. I took of one of your gloves. It was a dream about the layers between you and the world.”

There’s a passage in that same letter that may very well be about an operating system. “I know what I have done. I made you into a perfect character. Nothing has happened so nothing is disappointing me. You are separate from reality.”

I spent my time as a ghostwriter in flow state, losing myself in listening.

At The Awl, Bonnie Downing writes about her brief stint as a love letter ghostwriter. See more stories from The Awl.


Photo: Scene from the film “Her”. Joaquin Phoenix plays a man who ghostwrites letters for strangers.

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