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

Author, 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