In my first journal entry for two weeks, I discuss why the time was right to take a short break from writing - because I've published my second book, while also reaching a key stage in my mental health novel. I have also received the score for my third module - the first that counts towards my final degree.
After a very intensive seven months of work, university studies, writing and editing two books and keeping my regular journal blog, which has seen me write over a quarter of a million words, I permitted myself a break in order to recharge my batteries. Part of this was because the main thing on my mind was the fallout from England losing the Euro 2020 final, and I felt that I would just be repeating what so many others have said, so it was pointless adding my own opinion to the masses. I did enjoy the tournament, and I was so proud to see such a thoroughly decent group of men perform to such a level. It was no surprise to me to see England make the final, and it was nice to see Southgate finally get the credit he deserves. There's every reason to believe the lads can go one step further next winter and win the World Cup, and I'm thoroughly looking forward to seeing them try.
The second reason I allowed myself a break is because, after an editing process that took far longer than I expected, my second FPL Nightmare book was completed. I spent much more time editing the second book than the first, because while I was proud of my debut novel, I felt I had rushed the editing process somewhat, mainly because I had never expected it to become a book at all. The series itself began life as a one-off blog written to make my mate laugh, and because it did, I kept going for the last few gameweeks of the 2018-19 season. For 2019-20, I wrote blogs every week, and it was only as the story of that season developed that I thought it would make a quality book. At the end of that season, I compiled the blogs together and did some very minor editing, and that’s how The FPL Nightmare: How to Lose the World’s Greatest Mini-League in 38 Simple Steps came to pass.
For The FPL Nightmare II: The Crying, the Hits and the VAR Probe, I knew all along that the weekly blogs for the lads in the division would become a book, and that knowledge informed my writing process all season. At the final whistle of the final game, I began a proper editing process. I put all 38 blogs together, then wrote a style guide to normalise everything throughout. What I mean by that is, in the first book, sometimes I’d write (for example) Gameweek Twenty, GW20 or Gameweek 20. For the sequel, I went through and ensured the format of writing these things was the same throughout. I then read through it on my laptop, editing everything as I went, then received my proof copy of the book. Reading it on paper as opposed to a laptop proper highlights little things that you miss when your eyes become strained at a screen. I did two or three chapters at a time, to ensure I didn’t start glossing over things, then went back through the book and finished editing everything properly. Then, I wrote the season review and my conclusion to the season, which are always my favourite things to write, because they allows me to consider on how my rivals have developed and performed throughout the year, while also reflecting on the overall season and the game as a whole, and what the season just completed has taught me. I honestly think it’s a book anyone interested in Fantasy Premier League would enjoy, and I feel they would learn from it and become better managers as a result. Go and buy it in paperback and on Kindle at bit.ly/FPLNightmare2, then let me know what you think.
The third reason I took a break from writing is that I exceeded the 75,000 word mark for my ‘proper’ novel, and with it, I reached a key stage in that story. With a bit of a time jump following a key scene, I needed to take some time to plot and envision the next stage of that story in my head, rather than just diving into it. Some may say it’s best to just go from start to finish without stopping, and maybe they are correct. For me, though, this book means so much, given that it is loosely based around the story of my life and the friends that have been there through the worst of my mental health issues, and so it is very important that I get this story right. The FPL Nightmare books are very good, and I’m very proud of them, but this novel is the one that really counts. It tackles so many issues that affect so many people; friendship, childhood trauma, mental illness, institutionalisation, rebellion, political protest and, of course, love. While the FPL Nightmare is a lot of fun, this as-yet-untitled novel feels like it matters. A short break now that I have reached the key point I have will only strengthen the story, and while there is still a lot of work to go before it is published, I promise it will be worth the wait. This story will be my priority until I resume my university studies, which may see fewer Disorderly Thoughts published over the next couple of months, though I will try my best to keep writing these blogs too. Hopefully I’ll get a couple of in-depth Lawes Reports done as well, but they are on the back-burner for now.
The fourth, and most important, reason I took a break from writing, is that I went on holiday with my partner and her wonderful twins. We went to stay with her auntie near Blackpool, and had a fantastic few days filled with fun, laughter and so many smiles. We ate far too much ice cream and drank far too much fizzy pop, and despite a heatwave that was suffocating and stifling, we all managed to avoid any sunburn issues. It was quite intimidating for me at first – most of the time, when you meet your partner’s family, it’s for an hour or two, not the four days our trip lasted – but they couldn’t have been more welcoming, lovely and downright decent. It was a holiday that I will remember fondly for many years to come, not least because, on the first day, I found out that I passed my third university module with a distinction! This was the first module that counts towards my final degree score, and it sets me well on the way to achieving the 2:1 I am hoping for. While it does set me up nicely to achieve a first-class degree, the possibility of doing so is something I refuse to contemplate until the beginning of my final module, so as not to pressure myself out of being able to complete the degree. It was a great start to a brilliant week, and it’s left me feeling bright and refreshed, and ready for the writing challenges ahead.
With all that in mind, I will end this entry here, so as to get back to the grind. These books don’t write themselves! Thank you so much for your ongoing support.
Song of the Chapter:
‘Back In The Saddle’ by Aerosmith
Quote of the Chapter:
“Rest is not idleness, and to lie sometimes on the grass under trees on a summer's day, listening to the murmur of the water, or watching the clouds float across the sky, is by no means a waste of time.”
"One of the most insightful works I've read on mental health problems in men ... It is very well-written and a real page-turner. I would recommend it to anyone.
Dancing With Disorder
"It communicates a deep understanding of troubled individuals who suffer from the challenges of mental disorders ... Courageous, wise, humorous and thought-provoking ... an easy-to-read, surprising and subtly moving chronicle.
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