Adventure, Author, Book Publishing, Career, Creative, Teaching, Writing

End of an Era?

Hi Everyone, I’m sorry it’s been so long…

How are you? How have you found the last few months? I feel this post is all about me, so please share anything you’d like to celebrate about your own life in the comments!

TL;DR – A lengthy essay detailing recent happenings and life changes. Honestly, I’m not expecting you to want to read the entire post, it’s more for my own ‘journal of life experiences’, so in the future I can look back to appreciate how far I’ve come. If you do manage to read this entire blog post, congratulations! You now know more about what’s going on in my life than most of my own friends and relatives do πŸ™‚

After four years of hard work, my BA (Hons) English Literature & Creative Writing with The Open University is complete! While I longed to achieve a First-Class degree, I may just miss out and am predicted a 2:1 classification – which I’m told is still pretty impressive, considering my status as a mature student who works full time and has a hectic home life. I hope that my experience will inspire others to embark on a degree, if it’s something they’ve always wanted to do, because if I can do it so can you πŸ™‚

However, I have found the last few months – well, last few years if I’m being honest – overwhelming. My schedule has been so saturated with work that I’ve felt time slipping by uncontrollably. While I love writing, adore reading, and enjoy studying, I underestimated how much time would be taken working for myself as a ghostwriter while studying towards a degree full-time. I am still passionate about writing, though recently, I’ve been forced to reconsider my ambitions…

For around a year, I was determined to work in education. It has always been my intention to make a difference for the better through the work I do, and I was seriously considering transforming my love of learning into teaching, with a view to inspiring young minds by helping them realise their potential. Then, after revisiting lessons learned through past work experience, I realised that my short stature and high-pitched voice are not conducive to controlling a rowdy class of thirty unruly children. I also considered working for the special educational needs sector, but I sought the advice of a fantastic careers advisor with the OU who explained that – while it’s entirely up to me what I do with my life – I’d not necessarily be utilising the skills earned through my degree, due to there being very few progression opportunities, unless I pursued teaching or management.

The careers advisor also made an excellent point – to make a difference to the world for the better, I don’t have to make others the focus of my work; she suggested I think carefully about what brings me joy, and pursue a path that allows me to make a difference outside of work, if there are jobs out there I’d excel in that aren’t directly driven towards helping others. Besides, as the careers advisor pointed out, once I have my degree, I can always change my mind to go into teaching at any point in my career – whether that’s teaching children in school and young people in college, or even adults in further/higher education – and it was pointed out that no-one is ever ‘too old’ to pursue a Masters or further qualifications, which is something to be mindful of in future.

Many of the recommendations made by the careers advisor focused on careers in publishing, or content creation for marketing purposes, because those roles would utilise my degree/ghostwriting experience and could support the improvement of my own writing without the constant, unrelenting workload I’ve had since working for myself. Working in a 9-5 role could give me the freedom to make a difference for the better in my free time, such as setting up a local creative writing group for disadvantaged young people.

(Plus: despite the fact my emetophobia has been improving considerably over the last couple of years, now that I have more recent experience of working with children, I realise that while I thoroughly enjoy working with young people, the anxiety caused by my phobia can make the working environment uncomfortable at times – which is not ideal when my focus should be on student wellbeing and not on trying to prevent myself from having a panic attack because a child said they were sick recently, or they feel sick, or they look ill, etc. That was the reason I chose not to pursue primary school teaching when I about to leave school. It’s a goal of mine to complete The Thrive Programme soon, but if emetophobia rears its ugly head and suddenly makes me feel so anxious that I can’t support a student properly when they need me most, then I’d end up feeling I’d failed in my objective to make a difference for the better. Ultimately, I am determined that I will overcome emetophobia, at least to the point I can do normal activities everyone else seems to take for granted without feeling anxious constantly. But, as I work to improve my own mental health and self-confidence, I think I’d be better suited to a role that doesn’t involve the risk of dealing with triggering situations on a daily basis.)

So, I’ve spent several sleepless nights thinking about my options and countless hours discussing where I should be (with anyone who will listen!). I’ve found some amazing opportunities that include an array of different job titles, like ‘proofreader’, ‘editorial assistant’, and ‘content creator’ – and, better still, some of those opportunities even involve working for educational institutions, or publishers of children’s literature, which would allow me to use my experience of working with children AND my degree/ghostwriting experience!

Therefore, is the completion of my university course the end of an era, or the beginning of an exciting, new adventure? I hope it’ll be the latter πŸ™‚

Unfortunately, despite the lifting of restrictions, the impact of the Coronavirus pandemic has been devastating for many businesses:

First, I was represented by the fabulous company Top Rated Ghostwriters for two years, though they sadly had to close down due to unforeseen losses caused by the pandemic. It was an honour to have been represented by such a fantastic company, and having the opportunity to work with a team of amazing ghostwriters was brilliant – I cannot thank Top Rated Ghostwriters enough for their support and encouragement.

The loss of an agent is another factor that has forced my decision to limit the ghostwriting projects I take on in future – because I no longer have a ghostwriting support system in place if ever I need help, advice, or encouragement. However, I do intend to continue working on smaller-scale ghostwriting projects when I have time, such as those for charitable organisations or memoir writing, because there are so many fascinating stories out there just waiting to be told – I’d love to use my experiences to bring those stories to life, especially for people who may not otherwise be able to afford to do so πŸ™‚

Second, Wordcatcher Publishing became a victim of the pandemic, too. Not only did Wordcatcher Publishing traditionally publish two of my books, but the company also gave me the opportunity to work as a publishing assistant – which provided me with invaluable experience that I may never have had otherwise. I learned so much while working for Wordcatcher Publishing, from proofreading and working with authors on various editorial projects, to typesetting manuscripts for print and managing book metadata. I am incredibly grateful for the publishing experience I gained at Wordcatcher, and it was a pleasure to work with so many wonderfully talented authors – several of whom have become my friends!

As a result of the closure of Wordcatcher Publishing, however, I now have to re-publish my debut novel – Larry – and series of short stories – Animals’ Guide to the Human Race. Although I have now completed my university studies, my time is still extremely limited, so I have decided to edit Larry and AGTTHR for the very last time in every spare moment I can find, with a view to self-publishing them through either KDP or Ingram Spark in the very near future.

A little bit of good news – for those who enjoy my writing – five years in the making, I still haven’t given up on my series of YA sci-fi novels! I am crafting a dynamic cast of characters for my sci-fi series that, I hope, will help readers feel more confident within themselves, alongside the inspiration to act with greater compassion towards others – my novels will also be packed with mystery, suspense, conspiracy theories, and super-advanced tech that requires significant research to write coherently. So please ‘watch this space’ for updates…

Thank you, once again, for your continued support! You are incredible, and I am honoured that you’ve chosen to spend your time with me (well, with my words, to be precise) πŸ™‚ <3

Best wishes,

Dannika

Author, Book Publishing, Book Review, Career, Creative, Memoir, Non-Fiction, Reading, Teaching, Teaching, Writing

A Book Review: Head Over Heels in the Dales

Welcome to my ‘Dannika Writes… A Book Review‘ series! πŸ™‚

As a writer, I have a natural affinity with words. So, it makes sense that I enjoy reading the literary creations of others, too. I began writing book reviews many moons ago; I was in a book club and it was suggested to me by a kind person there that I share my reviews online, as they believed others would appreciate my honest approach to reviewing reads both great and not-so-great.

Being a published author myself, I also realise how awesome it is knowing someone has taken the time to appreciate your efforts to entertain and/or enlighten them, then gone above and beyond to tell others about it as well. Reviews are vital to the success of every book in every genre; and that isn’t necessarily tied to positive reviews and recommendations. From an author’s perspective, constructive criticism plays an essential role in the development of one’s writing, and ultimately, it becomes something every writer appreciates (even if they don’t realise it at the time!).

I only read paperbacks, by the way – which is the reason I include links to the paperback copies of books I’ve reviewed. While I know eBooks are amazing – and that maybe, one day, I’ll get into reading them too – I’m afraid that, for me, nothing beats the delectable scent of a fresh, new paperback or that sensation of being able to actually hold a literary masterpiece #literarynerd (I advise against falling asleep whilst reading though; being thumped on the head by a book is not so fun…). However, should you feel that fellow readers would appreciate a link to the eBook version of a book, please include it in the comments below.

Before you delve into this blog post, I believe it’s worth mentioning that I do not apply ratings to my reviews. In my opinion, every writer is an individual and, to be honest, I don’t believe it’s fair to compare their works – how would one even rate the work of mystery writer in comparison to a romance novelist, or a sci-fi aficionado in comparison to a non-fiction biographer? If you’re happy to place a rating value on a particular book, however, please feel free to include that in the comment section of this blog post πŸ™‚

(Please note that I will be adding a brand new Book Review page to The Emet. Review website, for those of you who have emetophobia.)

In this post, I will be reviewing Head Over Heels in the Dales by Gervase Phinn…

Description:

Join Gervase Phinn in the classroom where he faces his greatest challenge: keeping a straight face as teachers and children alike conspire to have him laughing out loud . . .

‘Could you tell me how to spell “sex” please?’

Gervase Phinn thinks he’s heard just about everything in his two years as a school inspector, but a surprising enquiry from an angelic six-year-old reminds him never to take children for granted.

This year Gervase has lots of important things on his mind – his impending marriage to Christine Bentley (the prettiest headteacher for miles around), finding somewhere idyllic to live in the Yorkshire Dales, and the chance of a promotion.

All of which generate their fair share of excitement, aided and abetted as usual by his colleagues in the office.

Funny, uplifting and joyful,Β Head over Heels in the DalesΒ is the third in Gervase Phinn’s much-loved series.

My Review:

When I read this book, I had no idea it was the third in a series (despite that being listed on the back cover) – although, to be honest, you really don’t have to read other books in the series to enjoy this book. Full of fun, Head Over Heels in the Dales is a delightfully light-hearted read packed with vivid scenes illustrated by Phinn’s exquisite literary talents.

Despite being non-fiction, Head Over Heels in the Dales reads more like a fiction novel than a memoir – but I imagine the reality of Phinn’s experiences illuminated the hilarity, romance, and stresses of life as a school inspector that are depicted in this book.

Phinn details his time as a school inspector, though reading this book actually made me feel confident that I’d enjoy a teaching profession alongside my writing career.

Having read All Creature Great and Small by James Herriot when I was younger, I definitely felt that Head Over Heels in the Dales had the same vibe. I have visited Yorkshire briefly, but feel as though I’ve spent considerable time ensconced in its rural idyll thanks to Phinn’s marvellous descriptions of the the rugged yet beautiful Dales countryside:

“Willingforth Primary School resembled a prosperous, well-maintained private residence. It was set back from the main road, which ran the length of the small picturesque village, tucked behind the Norman church and the village pond. It was an imposing grey stone Georgian building with high leaded windows, each supporting a pair of white shutters, and a large oak-panelled door with brass knocker in the shape of a ram’s head. To the front was a small, well-tended lawn with a sundial and tubs of bright geraniums still untouched by frost.”

I definitely recommend reading Head Over Heels in the Dales if you’re in search of a humorous, light hearted book that’s undemanding yet entertaining.