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 🙂

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 🙂

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…

I’ve always been fascinated by education; the science behind it, learning processes, and the incredible opportunities brought about by collecting new skills. In fact, some of my favourite ghostwriting projects have been based in children’s literature.

As a teenager, while I was told by a few of my high school teachers – and high school careers advisor, and relatives, and friends, and basically anyone I discussed careers with – that I’d be a great primary school teacher, I toyed with the idea but never felt confident enough to pursue that career path. Initially, I was training to become a horse riding instructor and equine behaviourist, since – aside from writing books by myself, which, unfortunately, will never guarantee an income – being around horses was the only place I felt truly confident and comfortable. One painful hand injury, seven years, and countless trials in various career paths later, I cannot seem to shake that longing to be involved in the education sector.

Therefore, I re-considered becoming a primary school teacher and sought advice to that affect from wherever I could – I even work as a classroom assistant for a local tutoring company one to two evenings a week, to gain valuable teaching experience and refamiliarise myself with a classroom setting – yet still didn’t feel comfortable with the thought of managing a class of thirty unruly children by myself. My experiences working with young people have, however, reaffirmed that feeling that I should be working with them to make a difference for the better. But I kept wondering how could I possibly do that unless I became a teacher?

Luckily, my love of books led me to read the Guide to Writing for Children and YA, which I discovered in the hope of improving my craft as I work on my own YA sci-fi series. Within the pages of that invaluable book, I learned of an entirely new realm of children’s literature – and it has opened my eyes to the possibilities available to me in the world of educational publishing! I intend to pursue work in a school (preferably library-based or as part of a reading/literacy intervention role, though I’m certain working as a teaching assistant will be equally rewarding), in hope of gaining amazing insight into the young people I intend to write for, before I embark on creating exciting books for reluctant readers and children whose reading levels don’t correlate with their curriculum age groups. I am beyond excited to – after many, many years of uncertainty and deliberation – have finally found a route to utilise my literary skills and experience to support young people in developing a love of reading and appreciation of books. It may take a few years to accomplish, though I am truly looking forward to the wonderful literary challenges ahead!

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 🙂

Anyway, in other news…

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 🙂

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, which is pretty much the same thing) 🙂 <3

Best wishes,

Dannika

Mental Health Awareness, Uncategorized, Writing

For 10th September

As I write, at this very moment, I have absolutely no idea where this post will lead…

I’m not sure how much you know of me, so as a brief recap: I was in a toxic relationship for five and a half years, married on 10th September 2016, left him on 20th July 2018 when I discovered he’d been having an affair, then was officially divorced on 10th April 2019.

That relationship left me with scars so deep I’m not sure they’ll ever disappear. However, with infinite thanks to my phenomenal family, wonderful boyfriend, and amazing friends, those scars are fading more with each passing day.

I’m not going to bore you with the details of that relationship, other than to share that because of the abuse (emotional and sexual), the betrayal, the torment I endured at the hands of a narcissist, I am who I am today. Though no, he deserves no credit. The strength it took to endure that relationship, combined with the courage to walk away, belongs solely to me. I acknowledge the reality that without him, I may not have realised the extent of my power – to which I allow acceptance of my experiences, as opposed to regret.

After being severely hurt by a person you believed loved you, many people advise you to ‘forgive and forget’. Unless you’ve been through the devastating emotive spiral following any form of betrayal, you could never understand how impossible forgiveness is. Having been raised a Christian, I can fathom the freeing effects of forgiveness – though something you’re never taught is how to handle hate. I’ll see the good in someone before I’ll see the bad; an aspect of my personality that has landed me in countless difficult situations that could have been avoided had I trusted my instincts, that aforementioned relationship a case in point. Something he forced me to feel that I had never, ever known before was hatred, akin to facing a nefarious inner enemy on a daily basis. While that could have easily led to me losing myself, I chose to live to the full instead.

It has been an arduous road littered with unforeseen pitfalls, though finally, I can say with deserved pride that I no longer hate the man who hurt me – I pity him.

I am thankful for every blessing in my life, however seemingly small. I love wholeheartedly, I embrace my flaws yet work tirelessly to improve, I truly care about making a difference for the better, and I am no longer a victim of the relentless inner torture that followed all the forms of betrayal I’ve known.

I’ve been reading Othello by William Shakespeare as part of my university course, and this line struck me, “To mourn a mischief that is past and gone / Is the next way to draw new mischief on”

The reason I spiraled in a whirlpool of self-doubt, lack of confidence, and depression for so long was because I worried over my own flaws to the extent I’d mistrust anyone who claimed to love or accept them. All I could see was my failures, my struggles, my physical imperfections. I suffered panic attacks and nightmares, drowned in flashbacks of the past as I tried desperately to force myself to see light in my future. I was so suffocated by the damage done to me that I was afraid to swim out of that darkness in case what I met with would be worse. If you’re currently in that headspace, please know that you are not alone. You never have been. And you know what? When you fight through that riptide trying continuously to pull you under, eventually you will reach the surface – and my goodness is it extraordinary!

I used to care so deeply about what other people thought that I ended up in a relationship that could have very well led me to a fate worse than divorce. Please stop trying to fit society’s idyllic image of who it expects you to be. So what if society dislikes your life choices – provided you aren’t causing harm to anyone else and you aren’t doing anything illegal, just be yourself. It does take a heck of a lot of courage to be yourself in a world so enamoured with convention, but you’ve got to embrace who you are because life is too damn short to waste.

The 10th September 2016 was fantastic, though my mind has blocked any record of him from it. All I remember when I recall that day is family and friends being together in happiness, laughing and smiling, forgetting miseries past, nor considering sadness yet to come – everyone soaked in a rare sense of togetherness on a day I unintentionally designed to evolve around the enjoyment of others. So I don’t regard it as ‘my wedding day’ because it wasn’t. The fact I married the wrong man that day was secondary to the joy that day brought to those who attended. Therefore, I have made a promise to myself that on the 10th September every year I will celebrate my power – whatever you have been through, I implore you do the same. Nobody’s experiences ought to be compared to anyone else’s, for we all have unique perceptions of what we’ve been through. Let’s make 10th September a day of compassion without comparison.

The strength you possess within may not reveal itself through convention. Be kind, but please, be yourself! Don’t fall into the trap of being controlled by the vision of yourself you believe best pleases others.

Thank you for reading!

Best wishes,

Dannika <3

Wedding dress comparison 11th Sept 2016 to 4th May 2019 🙂
* My beautiful pony Eira still gives the best cwtches! *