In the depths of the Covid pandemic, as normal life was replaced by normal lockdown, when the highlight of any day was the one allowable trip out of the house for exercise, I would open the front door and amble up the long road to the woods, for pure escape.
In air that was fresher than usual due to the absence of industry and suburban traffic, and with far-reaching views across a subdued Nottingham cityscape, I would let my feet and mind wander, enjoying the limited time available outside of the house, away from talk and worries of coronavirus, away from talk on Zoom and Teams.
I would be accompanied on these daily walks by my new pal, a pandemic puppy, a source of joy in an increasingly joyless world, and an unforeseen and unlikely source of inspiration for a new interest that began to emerge during the pandemic. Writing has always been the basis of my career, first as a journalist, including a couple of years on the Nottingham Post, and then in public relations, but this was the first time I had attempted to write a book.
A guide to ‘greatness’, whatever the concept of greatness might mean but strangely, they were not my words. Weirdly, they were the words of my dog.
The narrative began to take the shape of a slightly surreal self-help guide. A guide to ‘greatness’, whatever the concept of greatness might mean but strangely, they were not my words. Weirdly, they were the words of my dog.
I do not mean of course that my dog was talking to me but I began to see the world through a dog’s eyes and mind. I think the pandemic was getting to me a little and this was my enjoyable, delusional escape. I would imagine the main character’s odd daydreams, placing them within the unlikely structure of a self-help/business self-improvement book, genre(s) I had always shuddered at reading. A professional cartoonist friend added his pictures of the cast of canine companions. The book was coming together.
What emerged was ‘Making very difficult things easy to do’, a parody of a self-help guide, written by the ‘world’s highest achieving dog’. As the blurb says: ‘Work your way through this self-help guide and discover for yourself the power of assuming things will be easier than they are in a journey of the absurd.’
The book blurb concludes: ‘These could be some of the most enlightening, poignant and ridiculous words ever written by a furry household pet.’ Life coaching and business advice from a cockapoo? It is probably not a crowded market.
It feels to be a very unusual book, maybe an unusual book for unusual times. It is due to be published by The Book Guild in May 2022. For further information and details of pre-ordering, please see jcrossauthor.com
Former journalist Jonathan Cross has worked as a writer and sub-editor on local and national newspapers, and has spent two decades in public relations. He has previously worked for the NHS, ITV and in the media, including the Nottingham Post. Jonathan lives locally with his family, where he currently runs his PR consultancy business. His debut novel is a self-help parody, Making very difficult things easy to do, and is to be published by The Book Guild in May 2022. See author website.