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

Author, Mental Health Awareness, Nature, Writing

About Stress

Heyy Friends, I hope all is well with you 🙂

So, it has been an inordinate amount of time since my last blog post – my apologies to those of you who enjoy them! However, as the title of this post suggests, things have been stressful. You might want to get yourself a lovely cup of tea and some super chocolaty biscuits, because this is going to be one lengthy rant (sorry!)…

Cannot remember whether I mentioned previously the whole car debacle – in case I haven’t, here it is: I purchased a second-hand car six weeks ago. It was mechanically sound, drove nicely, and was reasonably priced. Then, en route home, the damn thing started playing up. I’m definitely not the most confident driver, and I prefer to drive automatic cars because they’re more comfortable with my hand injury, so when the stupid thing kept slipping out of ‘Auto’ mode and getting stuck in first gear, that wasn’t helpful. It broke down at least three times in two days. The lady I bought it from kindly offered to take it back and refund the money, but I’m aware the lady is a single mother with three young children who needed a car – so I didn’t feel it was the right thing to do to burden her with it; I told her I’d keep it and get it sorted out, so she didn’t have to worry about it. To be fair to the lady, she was extremely helpful in trying to contact the previous owner in attempt to get him to pay the repair costs – he didn’t, but she made sure our complaint about the car was heard, which I really appreciated. After having two mechanics look at the car, as a last-ditch attempt to get the damn thing sorted, I searched for a local diagnostics garage; luckily, the one I found has been fantastic. Although they’ve had the car a total of four weeks (out of the six weeks I’ve owned the thing), despite their generosity and doing a lot of work on it for free, after I spent hundreds of pounds getting it fixed, we had a discussion today in which they felt it isn’t reliable enough for me – it just wouldn’t put up with the type of use I’d be expecting of it. The car drives superbly, it’s just more suited to someone wanting to travel around town as opposed to long distances through country lanes and over pot-holed farm driveways. Thankfully, the garage have kindly offered to try selling it on for me, though I am going to have to accept a huge loss on what was supposed to be a positive, lifestyle-changing investment. I am now on the lookout for a pink automatic, because I have decided I’m not compromising on the colour of car I’d love; I’ll let you know when I find my perfect car (which I am determined to do, even if it takes a while!). In the meantime, please enjoy this photograph of the number plate omen that I completely missed 🙂

Check out the number plate omen I initially missed!

Moving on from stressful cars, there was a sudden explosion of ragwort in the horses’ field last week. Probably the hot, wet weather – but ragwort is severely toxic to horses so has to be removed from grazing pasture. Therefore, spent hours pulling ragwort with my family and some friends with horses at the yard; which was stressful when the horses kept trying to nibble at the plants, thinking it was some sort of treat we were shoving into bags! Eventually, after much sweat, blood (from brambles, mostly), and tears (from stinging nettles and having flying insects attack us), we got the job done 🙂

I’ve had a heck of a lot of work lately – which is beyond wonderful! However, I continue to fail at time management. This is a constant strain on my physicality (i.e. headaches from staring at screens non-stop) as well as my mentality (i.e. not taking breaks, even on weekends, which leads to random debilitating anxiety attacks). I love my job, I truly do. I am infinitely thankful to be able to do something I love for a living, especially after the up-and-down experiences of working for companies. I’ve also just received the first batch of study materials in preparation for my uni course re-commencing in October – I adore learning, though my gosh are these some enormous textbooks!

I am failing miserably at fulfilling my own sense of self, in that I am continuously putting myself down and piling on my to-do list – instead of heeding my own advice by taking even a moment to be proud of my achievements and actually reap the rewards I’ve earned. My constant state of stress is stressing out my loved ones too, which is what bothers me most of all. This is where that good old adage “do as I say, not as I do” comes into force! I’m going to re-visit the fantastic advice given by family, friends, and kind social media strangers a while ago when I posted about this sort of thing on my personal social media pages – I am determined to fight my anxious tendencies and will learn to trust in my own abilities, as a writer and as a human being. And I promise to let you know exactly how I do that the second of its discovery 🙂

My attempt at re-capturing a positive sense of self, when I didn’t put any products whatsoever on my face the other day – and realised how much the sun had caught my face whilst ragwort pulling!

Whilst you’re awaiting a positive, life-affirming blog post from me, I hope you’ll be enchanted by these photographs I’ve taken over the last few weeks (the numbered photo collage depicts a change in light over a few seconds, taken during a lightning strike a few days ago). I do love nature, and photography 🙂

If you’ve made it to here, please reward yourself with your favourite sweet treat – thank you! I hope, at the very least, my blog post has given you a human insight into the world of a ghostwriter… 🙂

Take care of yourself <3

Best wishes,

Dannika