I've had a busy couple of months pursuing other creative pursuits, hence the lack of journal entries. This post goes into what they are. It also has my university module results, and a review of the fantastic book 'Ad Hominem', by Eric Gay. I hope you enjoy it.
I feel like I start every blog nowadays by commenting on how long it has been between posts, and this is no different. It’s been two months since I last published my thoughts on my website, but this time, it’s not been for some sort of creative block or lack of things to talk about; I’ve just been busy with various things, and felt it unnecessary to post for the sake of posting. I am reaching a stage where I’m missing writing regularly though, so the time is write to get back to the keyboard.
One of the things I was busy with was finishing the final FPL Nightmare book, which is now available in all formats on Amazon (https://getbook.at/FPLNightmare3). It is called The FPL Nightmare III: The Lawes Rank Redemption, and as the title suggests, it was a successful season for me, as I finally achieved an overall ranking to be proud of. As to whether it was enough to win the League of Gentlemen, you’ll have to read the book to find out. It’s a fitting end to the series, and I feel very proud to have completed a book trilogy. It feels like a real achievement, something not many people are able to do, and it’s something I will look back on with fondness in the years to come. If you haven’t read any of the series, you can buy the complete trilogy on Kindle (https://getbook.at/FPLNightmareTrilogy). You can get the Kindle app on any smartphone or tablet and read it through that, too. Challenging myself to turn a game like Fantasy Premier League into a story was a real test of my abilities, and after an admittedly slow start in book one as I developed the format, I feel it becomes a really good story, with each of the three books standing in isolation while also telling an epic tale across the trilogy. If you’re not a fan of FPL, you may not get much out of them. If you are, though, it’s a series that you will relate to strongly, and will make you laugh a lot at the melodramatic way I approach the game, while also showing how improvement is possible through small changes to approach and the determination to get better, a lesson which anybody can take something from.
Another reason for my prolonged absence from writing essays is that I have been dabbling more in video creation. I started with a few short, simple videos on TikTok because the writing forums say it’s the best way to get some sales. I haven’t really noticed any upturn in sales of Dancing With Disorder, but I did enjoy the process of creating videos, and I think that the main issue is that Dancing With Disorder is proving a tough book to market because it was not written towards an existing audience. It’s not a fantasy book, or a romance or thriller; it’s contemporary literature, a notoriously tricky genre to market, especially within the context of mental illness being so prominent throughout the book. I think I need to find a way to emphasise the humour and heart of the story more, because it’s a really good book that deserves to be read, but I have to accept that the best way to get people to read it is to write more stories that people relate to, and to hope that, if I am able to get people to fall in love with the characters I create in different styles of books, it will pique their interest enough to give Dancing With Disorder a chance. I want to write a murder mystery, a love story and a book based on the Cumbrian music scene of 2008-2014. However, after much deliberation, the book I am going to write next is a fantasy, details of which will be released in due course. I have chosen this genre to write first for the noblest of reasons: my partner’s daughter asked me to write her a story. I have set myself a deadline of the end of January, so that I can give it to her for her birthday. It will be a challenge, especially once university starts up again, but I am a lot more focused when I am under more pressure so I’m looking forward to writing it.
Speaking of university, I got my final score for the exam back. Remember how I said I was worried that I’d do poorly, and my only aim was to score 55% so I passed the module with a 2:1 grade? I only went and got 88%, the best score I’ve achieved this year! It was still only enough for a 2:1 pass, given the other scores I’d posted this module, but it’s a 2:1 pass which comes with great relief. When looking at the four modules that comprise my final grade, it was this one that filled me with the most trepidation, and I just hoped to do enough to not tank my chances. Now, it’s over, and I’m right on course for the 2:1 degree I’m aiming for. I still have the chance of achieving a first, but I refuse to countenance that as an option or a goal because if I put that level of pressure on myself, I’ll make myself ill trying. A 2:1 remains the goal, and it looks even more achievable now.
Anyway, I’ve gone on a bit of a diversion, so let’s get back to the original point. I’ve made a couple of videos for my YouTube channel (please subscribe by clicking HERE). The first one is basically a reading of The Curse of Perfectionism: How to Overcome Creative Fear, which I still think is my best essay. I will include the video at the bottom of this post. The second one is called Sparkles’ Special Memories. It took me a good six weeks to complete, and clocks in at nearly two hours long. It’s very much something for me and my family, as I’ve taken the nearly 3,500 videos and photographs I’ve taken of my partner, her kids, myself and the people we love since we got together, and I’ve made a film for us to watch and cherish for years to come. It was a monumental effort, and I can see why Hollywood employs teams to put films together. I only had myself, and I am delighted with the outcome. Obviously, the minor imperfections that I picked up on when watching the final edit irritated me, but as I say in The Curse of Perfectionism, I’d rather look back at many imperfect things that I completed and see the magic, charm and memories within than spend forever trying to create something perfect and never actually finishing it. When I come to do Sparkles’ Special Memories II in a couple of years, I’ll be able to watch them both and see how far I’ve come in the meantime, and I look forward to that. I will include Sparkles’ Special Memories at the bottom of this post, too, just in case anyone wants to witness the joy that my life has become.
I need to wrap this up, because AEW Dynamite starts very soon, and Kenny Omega seems to be returning, and I’m stupidly excited. Before I do, I just want to tell you about a book I’ve read recently. A few weeks ago, I came across Ad Hominem in an old Reddit thread, where the author was asking for opinions on the cover. I'm pleased Eric Gay sought those views, because the cover of this book is fantastic. Indeed, between that and the synopsis, I found myself needing to read this book, even though I was partway through reading Guards, Guards by Terry Pratchett, so I bought it and thought I'd read both at the same time.
That plan was doomed to failure, because from the first chapter, Ad Hominem grabbed my attention and refused to relinquish it. The characters are both fantastical and relatable, with intrigue around their histories, backgrounds and motives that made me need to find out more. The dialogue between them was realistic and fun, bringing a light tone to what, for them, was a dire situation. I found what the book had to say about the nature of religion and belief engaging and thoughtful, without bashing me over the head with preaching. The story was fast-paced, enjoyable and fun, with the novel twist of Logic and Calculus being forms of magic both clever and amusing, and the story built to a strong conclusion.
Having never read Terry Pratchett before, I expected to be blown away by Guards, Guards, which I am informed is one of his best. Instead, I find myself disappointed I now have to go back to reading it, because it means I have finished Ad Hominem. My fiancée and future mother-in-law are perplexed as to why I stopped reading Guards, Guards. If they take a chance on Ad Hominem, they will soon see why I did. I'm glad I gave Eric Gay's book a shot. I hope you give it a go, too, because it will make you think, it will make you feel and it will make you smile. You can't ask for more from a book than that.
I hope you’re all keeping well. Thank you for your ongoing support, and I hope to write to you all much more frequently going forward. I’ve enjoyed writing this post. It’s been far too long.
The Curse of Perfectionism:
How to Overcome Creative Fear
Sparkles’ Special Memories
Quote of the Chapter:
"Life itself is the most wonderful fairy tale."
Hans Christian Andersen
"One of the most insightful works I've read on mental health problems in men ... 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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