The Teaching Branch

 

Teaching. It is the arena in which I always thought my career would be built and nurtured. As a young child, my work-related aspirations focused on writing, on someday becoming an author, and on being an English teacher. And, even when I had those typical moments of wavering—perhaps I could be a barrister or maybe even an advertising executive?—still I always came back to that one role: being a teacher. However, life twists and turns, and a lack of confidence in public speaking and an ever-increasing social anxiety seemed to take their toll, and soon the prospect of teaching was something I couldn’t even imagine tackling, and so I took an alternate route—notably not a less valuable or satisfying role; just one that was slightly different—and thus an editor cum writer cum publishing consultant was shaped.

Times are changing, however, and teaching (nor learning) isn’t what it once was. Of course, I’ve recognised this over the years; technology has changed everything, from the ways we communicate and how we do business to how we find relationships and how we share our lives—and teaching is no exception.

Introducing the concept of e-learning; a teaching platform growing in popularity and more prevalent learner-use each and every day.

It was this time last year when a long-term client of mine—importantly, one of the most successful women in her country and someone for whom I have a huge amount of respect—directed my attention to an amazing opportunity. She discussed the details of a particular teaching platform, and how she felt learners across the globe could benefit from my expertise and experience in various domains. My interest was piqued: could I really teach? In the days that followed, discussions were had and research was conducted, and, suddenly, my then-already overflowing workdays looked set to become buried under yet more tasks, less time, more aspirations, but greater achievements.

But then, of course, life threw me a curve-ball, and so plans were put away—temporarily, of course, but put away nonetheless.

The necessary equipment has sat in lonely cupboards and boxes, packed away and gathering dust. The thousands of words, penned and saved, forming the blueprint of courses, have patiently waited to be padded out. My teaching profile has lay idle, accumulating daily followers who wait for news, yet not hearing a whisper.

But things change. Time moves; oh so slowly but then all at once. Grains of sand filter through domed glass. And curve-balls journey forward, pursuing other directions.

My professional life is already brimming and requires attention in different ways; books sit half-written, clients require attention, and an abundance of business literature screams to be rewritten. But it seems inherent in me not to let an opportunity pass me by or to fail to embrace greater diversity in my career portfolio. And, of course, in some small way, this is something I need to do in order to satisfy the goals of a little girl who used to be me. If I achieve this last thing on her list, she’ll know, then, that everything she wanted was possible.

I expect the process to be slow and complicated, but it’s like anything in life: you reap what you invest. The tasks will be cumbersome and long-winded: there is a need for me to devise and package courses that demonstrate my skillset and teach what is fundamental in my field; I will need to master feeling comfortable and at ease in front of the camera, and consider how to overcome the anxieties that go hand-in-hand with this; I will need to learn additional skills—video editing as just a starting point. But the opportunity is too unique and too valuable to pass up.

And so, after much delay, Hayley Paige, Lecturer, is set to be born. I aim for Summer—June/July—for the launch of my first course. That gives me four months…

Plenty of time.

A Book’s Words

There is so much more to a book than mere words. Of course, the pages and the ink, the individual characters and their profiles, the twists and turns, and plot overall, are some of the most obvious elements, but, essentially, each one of these needs to be written. In terms of more tangible aspects, there is cover design. Then there is the inclusion, fashioning of and consideration to countless other factors, such as marketing and advertising, and the overall brand image of the author. Today, however, I have directed my attention towards one of the more obvious aspects of book writing and publication—that of cover design.

The decision to halt work on my up-and-coming work was a difficult one, but ultimately it was necessary—although, in some way, I had no choice: at this time, at this point on my path, there is no way forward; it’s almost like there is a barrier, with no access granted either side, nor above or beneath. But sometimes, the best thing is not to fight against what can’t be or what isn’t possible in that moment, but rather accept it and direct attention to another sphere.

This afternoon, I have asked my graphics designer—whom I have worked alongside for several years—to begin work on the cover for the G72 project. Terminating all progress on this work was painful—is painful—and so it makes sense perhaps to continue with the elements that require attention but that don’t conflict with where I am in my life. Cover design and other more marketing- and PR-related elements all deserve to be a focus. Just because writing can’t be a part of my world for now, that doesn’t mean I should neglect my writing career completely.

And so today brings me to a brighter place—a place where G72 is still a part of my immediate future, and not so far away it sits in darkness. Hopefully soon I will see my work take on a more tangible, real-life form through cover design, and even if it does little more than reassure me that all of my efforts up until this point weren’t in vain, maybe that’s enough. A little progress in one small aspect of the whole picture surely is better than nothing, and so I’ll try, from now, to adopt that perspective, rather than thinking that G72 has had so much of my love, heart, passion and dedication, only to be discarded.

The G72 Project will sit in a little cupboard, filed away in a secret compartment in my Writer’s Mind. There is a light on, so I won’t forget it’s there. And my wonderful, amazingly talented graphics designer will keep me on this rocky path towards G72, steering me back in the right direction with each design he devises and each tweak he implements. It is my hope that, as these snippets of wonder reach me—and, in turn, are communicated to my social media audience—that we’ll gain more momentum and more companions on our journey. G72, without question, will become a reality. It isn’t even a question of When? because already I know: When the right time presents itself.

Setbacks and the Importance of Timing

The months have flown since my last update, with my efforts and attention focused on finalising my up-and-coming work of fiction (as discussed in my previous entry). Never before have I felt so excited by a project whilst also fearful and wary; each chapter and the unfoldings of the story have all been so unfamiliar and so unlike anything I’ve ever undertaken before, and I have found myself uncertain and in unknown territory throughout the process. But nonetheless, I allowed myself to become immersed in every single stage; I have valued the individual moments spent crafting the spells and allowing the manuscript to work its magic, and not at any point have I felt less than completely passionate and dedicated.

And all of this is only thus far… The journey is far from over.

However, there have been circumstances that have arisen in recent weeks that have meant a halt in my progress, and, due to the genre and twists of the book, which are too closely aligned with my personal life and create the most significant, deeply painful conflict, I am having to cast aside the idea of completing this work—at least for now. To continue on with this feels like an impossibility in this moment, if only from an emotional perspective, and I can’t see that I could do any justice to the ideas I have stored away and nurtured for so long. If I were to continue, the end result would be a half-effort, and publication would hurt my heart when I reflect on what is happening in my life. But ultimately, I can’t see that writing even another word is possible; my stomach twists at the thought.

The G72 project is something I have been desperate to undertake and complete for more than a year; it deeply saddens me to realise it will remain a half-form until my mind is strong enough to venture back to dark places. But timing is pivotal and all-important, and although it pains me to admit it, perhaps now just isn’t the right time.

Everything happens for a reason. Life unfolds and turns and spins, and we can’t predict what’s waiting around the corner. And, although we have to take control and seize the moment, sometimes we also need to go with the flow of a situation and not try to swim against the tide. For now, I’m just going to give myself up to where the current decides to take me.

I know a rainbow will follow the storm. And perhaps then I’ll feel able to pick up my pen and continue on with what I am sure will be a better version of itself after being permitted to take the necessary time to grow.

Months In Ink

The past three months have passed by in a blur of professional tasks and activities, centred on my everyday roles as editor and publishing consultant, whilst also devising and filming courses in my new role as a lecturer for one of the world’s largest learning organisations. Beyond this busyness in my schedule, however, I also have been directing my efforts towards the latest in my literary works.

This in-progress musing—which is all it qualifies as, so far!—will be released for pre-order at the height of Summer 2016, with publication to follow late-Autumn, and is, without question, one of my most exciting works so far in that it is an entirely new genre, and therefore carries an altogether different tone when compared with my past publications. I find myself treading an unfamiliar path that is both exhilarating and frightening, yet I find myself strangely at home with something so far away from the fantastical work of Alice. Perhaps I love to mix my two worlds; to dip my toes in and out of reality and fantasy, and then back to reality once again; to take differently coloured droplets of oil and add them to a globe of water, and rock them back and forth like a hypnotising self-made lava lamp.

The details of my next publication are bursting to be shared, but the secrecy must remain—at least for now. I do, however, very much look forward to releasing details of its title, the cover and blurb, and receiving feedback from my reading audience. This is always one of the most exciting processes!

For now, however, it is back to the profiling of characters and the tying up of loose ends and the unweaving of woven tapestries. Soon, I am sure, all will become clear…

P.S. Wishing those of my readers who celebrate a very Happy Easter! Who doesn’t love to see a bunny hatching from an egg?!

‘Alice: Queen of Hearts’ Now Available for Preorder

Alice Cover Final

Past articles published on my website have spoken of the passion I have for ‘Alice: Queen of Hearts’—passion that never has dwindled in the years since I first imagined taking my favourite fairytale and completing a dark, fantastical reworking. This project has been unlike any other endeavour in my professional life. But now, the hard work, years of worry and countless hours writing deep into the candle-lit night (literally speaking!) have reached their conclusion…

Alice: Queen of Hearts is now available for pre-order, with November 22, 2015 marking its official publication!

No words can ever describe how it feels to reach such an incredible stage in this journey; it is overwhelming, with emotions ranging across all points in the positive–negative spectrum. I am, of course, over the moon to see what was once just a seedling of an idea burst to life and become a physical, tangible product, soon to line bookshelves in my favourite stores. But conversely, I will miss Alice—at least until it is time for me to tackle the sequel!

From Sunday, Alice will be free to wander across the globe and venture into the hands of her fans everywhere. I am sure she will be made to spend her hours held long into the night… Maybe some will choose to enjoy her on a train, on a plane, in a car or maybe even just on a soft sofa, cuddled into a corner as the fire blazes. Regardless of where she is taken, however, I have only one hope: that she keeps you turning her pages.

I know nerves will follow me like dark shadows every step of the way as I find myself far from the safety of my own writing retreat and out there in the vast world, where my words will be put under the microscope, examined and  analysed. But nonetheless, I will look forward to people’s comments and reviews.

I’ll see you in Wonderland…

[The first in the Lost in Wonderland series, ‘Alice: Queen of Hearts‘, can be ordered here.]

The AQH Project Revealed: ‘Alice: Queen of Hearts’

The AQH Project is a writing endeavour that has been close to my heart for several years, but is one that, ultimately, I have been too frightened and overwhelmed to undertake: the pressure of such an eagerly anticipated project and the potential to fail at something so close to my heart has kept my pen far from paper, and despite the years passing and the constant nagging voice in my mind chastising me for letting yet another 365 days pass without progress, thus far, I have remained cemented to the spot, too scared to begin.

This past year, however, has changed all of that.

A heartbreak I suffered in 2014 changed everything; changed my world, my future, my perspective on life and love. And with that experience came the courage to write, to finally make my dreams a reality, and, unexpectedly, to embark on what has turned out to be a cathartic journey.

It is finally time to reveal the AQH project. It is finally time to throw caution to one side and focus on achieving something that has been such a huge goal; the brightest star twinkling in my professional sky.

Alice: Queen of Hearts.

This project is a reworking of my favourite classic fairytale, Alice in Wonderland. With dark twists and a world far removed from the Wonderland we have come to know and love, Alice: Queen of Hearts is a different take on the story; told through a different lens and with a completely different conclusion.

Alice will come to life on November 22, at which time the book will be published and made available for purchase worldwide in hardback format. This date marks a very special time in my life, both professionally and personally, and it is my hope that the publication of this work—which has my heart and soul ingrained in its pages—will give Alice fans across the globe the opportunity to view one of our most-loved characters through darker eyes.

Alice is, and forever has been, so close to my heart. It is my hope that Alice: Queen of Hearts will take my passion and admiration to a greater level, and will provide my readers with an exciting page-turning experience.

Join me in Wonderland on November 22, 2015. Alice and I will be waiting.

If, however, you find you cannot wait until then, you can sign up to WattPad and review both the Prologue and Chapter 1; giving just enough of a glimpse into Alice and her life to tempt you to journey down the rabbit hole…

A Book Without Pictures

The writing of a book is one of the most complex, colourful, brimming-with-twists-and-turns projects a person can undertake, but the many different challenges and obstacles encountered during the writing period—which, in some cases, can span years—are quickly forgotten when the time comes for publication. At this stage begins an exhilarating, indescribable journey towards that pivotal end moment of holding the book, in its physical form, in your hands. The tangible outcome of intangible investment; emotions, time, ideas and imaginative scenarios. Flicking through the finished book, skim-reading page after page of black letters on white pages, is such a humbling moment.

Next time, however, I want more. I want pictures; not only printed words. Pictures. I want to flick through the complete book and see flashes of difference, a break in the text, something else to further separate this book from countless millions of others.

This is one element that sets aside the AQH project from anything else I have tackled and considered so far.

The AQH project is something that has been close to my heart, burning deep in my soul, for years, and is a work I still find daunting to tackle. My desperation to make it something memorable and inspiring, distinct from others of its kind, weighs on my shoulders every time I try to pick up the metaphorical pen. The weight emphasises the fear of not making this book as special as I need it to be. But I know my fears will subside when this part of the journey is complete. Until then, a welcome distraction from my reservations and contemplations is pictures. After all, what is the use of a book without pictures?

I have a friend who I first met 18 years ago, who is so much of an inspiration to me in the way she lives her life and how she approaches all goals in her life. She has recognised my love for all things related to my AQH project, and often surprises me with little gifts and thoughts to brighten my day. She is also a talented illustrator (I prefer doodler!), her imagination pulling little sketchings from a place I could never dream of accessing! And so, with all of this in mind, I have asked for her expertise and input with the AQH project.

The third little snippet for the project arrived in my Inbox last night, and, as with any time I receive an email from her, I opened it up with excitement and anticipation, and was not disappointed when I saw the beginnings of her latest creation. She is incredible, and I feel her parchment inkings will give this huge project an additional little sparkle; something special and magical to give this work that extra definition.

The daunting weight of writing seems to lighten when, as an author, I gain a little bit of insight, a glimmer of perspective, into the finished article; how it will unfold, how it will look, the emotions it will inspire. All of this keeps me motivated and focused on maintaining momentum in fulfilling what is one of my biggest ever goals. I only hope that the outcome will create the reaction I am hoping to garner, and that I can feel I have done justice to the many years and countless imaginings directed towards achieving this dream.