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…

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 🙂

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, to be precise) 🙂 <3

Best wishes,

Dannika

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! *