Did you Ever Drink Baileys from a Stocking?

If you’re actually enjoying this on Christmas Eve, there’s a very high possibility that somewhere in the world right now – well, my home – I’m enjoying a glass of Baileys.

I want to tell you a little story about Christmas tradition, then we’ll head into the territory of social pressure, before rounding up on a more mildly uplifting message than usual towards the end.

Sound good? Great.

When I was 16 I was lucky enough to have what some might see as both a drain on mental health and a positive blessing– two distinct sets of friends. With a Christmas Eve evening of drunken folk-dancing planned with one, I decided to arrange a daytime walk along the beach with the other. That’s the thing about a Cornish childhood, no matter how many bars turn you away, there’s always the beach.

I don’t remember if I bought a bottle of Baileys or plundered it from my family’s kitchen, either way we drank most of it (all of it) while walking up and down the shore. We hugged, laughed, and swapped presents, then I headed home and slept off my drunk in an armchair until it was time to head out and get drunk again.

The next year we went back to the same beach, although it wasn’t really the same, just a vain attempt to replicate or catch that feeling on the sand from the year before. Maybe we knew it would be one of the last times we’d try to be that close together. Maybe we didn’t. We drank Baileys again.

The following year, with different friends, the beach was never a plan and neither was Baileys, although it was still a fresh memory, in the way that “this time last year” always seems to be clearer than yesterday. Then at 3 a.m. in some house party liquor cabinet before the most hungover Christmas Day of all time, there it was – a single measure of Baileys.

I’m not that good with dairy lately, but if you can’t consume what makes you a little unwell at Christmas, when can you?

That’s three years in a row, and enough in my mind to call something a tradition. Pigs in blankets was suddenly a tradition one Christmas despite my never having had them before, so three years seems like a pretty strong footing.

Still, over the years – and I don’t want to think just how many there’s been since I was 16 – distractions and obstacles came and went and Baileys stopped being something I thought about at Christmas. Only in recent years, when the brand has been reinvigorated as something (supposedly!) classy and sexy has the idea of the tradition come back to me.

[The love letter to this specific brand of Irish Cream Liqueur is over now. I’m not being paid for this but oh how I wish I was!]

So something struck me this year while I was buying the second-smallest bottle available. I don’t see any of those friends anymore. I don’t even have those we should all get together sometime long-distance conversations with them.

A sort of sadness washed over me while I put down the bottle and picked up the gift pack with the two presentation glasses in instead. Could it still be the same tradition without the people who helped make it?

No. But also, yes.

When I hold that glass in my hand I’ll feel a swell of nostalgia for the things that we did in the past, for the places I’ve been that are no longer the same and the people I knew who are no longer there. But will I miss those people? Probably not.

None of these friends have died. We weren’t separated by war or diaspora, and we didn’t have a major conflict that drove us apart. We just stopped talking. Sometimes it’s sad, when lives and responsibilities get in the way of seeing each other and things fall apart, but sometimes it’s just the natural progression of a friendship through an acquaintance to well, nothing.

Calling them up might be interesting, even a little revealing, but it won’t reactivate those moments on the beach or at the 3 a.m. house party liquor cabinets, only reference them. No matter how much is marked and remembered, those will be new friendships, strangers pulled from the past that look a little bit like someone you used to know.

I feel like this modern world tends to pressure us into holding onto the past. We leave town but can always afford to fly back. Friends we’ve lost sight of geographically are always just an email away. People we used to go to school with add us on social media then invite us to like their new business page before even saying hello.

If you know, you know.

These people and places develop without us, and when we’re forced to reconnect we often find ourselves facing in different directions entirely. This doesn’t make us bad people, it makes us different people.

Social media is a stalling or slowing in the natural process of social entropy. Sometimes things fall apart, because they’re supposed to.

You aren’t a bad person for letting the past be just a memory.

You aren’t a bad person for failing to connect with people you used to stand beside.

You aren’t a bad person for getting a glass of Baileys at 10 a.m. with the thin excuse of needing a nice photo for your member’s community, but ultimately using one of the bottle instead.

You aren’t a bad person.

Have a great Christmas and a fantastic New Year.

I ho-ho-hope you are well.


P.S. Remember that as a member of this community, only you will get the opportunity to pick up 500ish Days In The Quiet Room at a scarily low introductory price, and after launch only you will get a digital copy of the companion collection All Better Now for absolutely free!

This is not a Free Book! It’s two!

Oof, remember when spam emails started with “This is not spam!” as a header? Well this is me letting you know that my seasonal festive poem The Christmas Santa Slept is definitely free on Kindle right now, and will be until the weekend. If that’s spam, then I guess I’m making fritters.

So this link should take you to the most appropriate Amazon store for your region. If you don’t like Amazon and don’t want to support the almighty Bezos giant, fair play to you, drop me an email reply this week and I’ll send you The Christmas Santa Slept as a nice little PDF instead.

What happens when Santa sleeps through Christmas Day? The Christmas Santa Slept is the story of one such year, a heart-warming and hilarious tale of friendship, love, and charity, featuring a full cast of familiar characters, including Mrs Claus, Jack Frost, The Nutcracker, The Little Drummer Boy, The Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present, and Future, a legion of Snowmen (and Snow-women!), The Gingerbread Man, and of course… Santa Claus himself.

Since I’m feeling generous, you should also know that my John Green parody The Fault In Our Arse is also free on Kindle this week. If you like fart jokes, spicy food puns, and cheapshots at contemporary fiction tropes, you can pick up a copy here, or again – email me and I’ll send you a PDF.

I’ve written the start of a little piece on the pressures that Christmas traditions can put on us, and the relief that comes from letting them and the people involved in them go, which you can expect to see in your inbox during the holidays. Also in case you missed it, I had a few rather dramatic words to say recently about forcing yourself to take part in Secret Santa, which you can read here.

Other than that, have a great festive period and a great new year (have you noticed this new trend of people saying “and a better new year”? I feel like they’re telling me to have an average Christmas by comparison).

I hope you are well

P.S I have 12 days “off” from my dayjob for the holidays. That’s 12 days of writing. Or computer games and alcohol. Or a panicked combination of all three and more. Watch this space!

P.P.S. Remember that as a member of this community, only you will get the opportunity to pick up 500ish Days In The Quiet Room at a scarily low introductory price, and after launch only you will get a digital copy of the companion collection All Better Now for absolutely free!

Free Book! And is Secret Santa Self-Harm?

Wow, that’s possibly the most clickbaity subject line I’ve used so far. Let me defuse it by quickly saying yes, there really is a free book, and that Secret Santa could be considered a form of self-harm depending on your emotional state and psychological background.

First things first, your free book. Unfortunately, it’s not All Better Now, although you will still have access to a free digital copy of that once it’s released. For now I’m letting you know that my short seasonal poem The Christmas Santa Slept is going to be free on all Amazon digital platforms (so I guess Kindle?) from the 16th to the 21st of December. It’s a heart-warming tale of friendship and support, with a full cast of seasonal characters and critters, and you can get a copy of it here.

There’s always going to be something special to me about this project, largely because it was one of my most successful. The text came to me over a long weekend, and was edited down over the following month. When I realised that I kept reading the characters in their different voices, I took a few trips to a few fancy dress shops, slapped on facepaint like it was suncream in July, shot a terrifying number of rushes and out-takes, and by the end of it had a pretty decent video project.

You can find it on YouTube. I apologise in advance if Jack Frost gives you nightmares.

The Christmas Santa Slept is also one of my most dangerous projects, because it sometimes helps me rest on my laurels.

“Hi, I’m Nick Sheridan, author of The Christmas Santa Slept, a 25-page booklet that came out half a decade ago.”

Have you published anything since?


As long as I can move a few hundred copies of it each holiday period, I trick myself into feeling like I’m not stagnating, despite the lack of returns– low subscribers, limited reviews –and the fact that most those copies are free. Well as I’ve said, this year you can again pick it up for free on Amazon, from the 16th to the 21st of December.

Most years I try to get out ahead of myself and start promoting The Christmas Santa Slept in November, but as you can read in the archive, I’ve been letting myself focus on other things lately, such as weddings and honeymoons (well, one of each), and now… refusing to take part in Secret Santa.

(Ahh! We must be at the mental health part of the email!)

Presents are great. Gifts are pretty great too. The kindness with which they are bought or made is overwhelmingly… great. Anxiety on the other hand, is rubbish.

An unknown present from an unspecified person is anxiety in a box. You don’t know what it is. You don’t know who gave it you, their intentions or what they personally invested in it. You don’t know how much of you it is going to require to keep or possess it, you don’t know if you will be able to control your face or emotions when you first see it, and you don’t know how the gift-giver is going to react to that. You don’t know if you’re going to like it.

The standard cognitive therapy line of “What’s the worst that can happen?” doesn’t work well enough here, because the “worst” is completely sealed behind shiny paper and a bow.

This may not be you. Maybe you look at surprise gifts the same way some people look at roller coasters- a moment of fear followed by a quick rush of excitement, ending in an amused and relaxed feeling of security. Maybe it’s a roulette table to you, a gamble with a win-or-lose outcome driven by the excitement of not knowing until the wheel stops spinning. Maybe you just like receiving things, no matter what.

Not everyone, and not me. That box from a stranger – and it is a stranger, until they reveal themselves – is a direct line to my uncertainty triggers, and it doesn’t start at the point of receiving, it starts when someone sticks my name in a bowl and passes it around an office.

Choosing to put my name into that bowl, despite the spiky waves of anxiety it can and does cause throughout the season, is perhaps no less a form of self-harm than submerging my hands in a basin of scalding water, hitting the rest of a bottle when I know my central nervous system is already drowning, or reading comments that I know will be hateful and discriminatory.

It is an activity that I know will upset me. It is a decision that I know will hurt me. It will bring me harm.

This is why for two years now, I’ve refused to take part. It doesn’t make me a Grinch. It doesn’t make me a killjoy. It makes me someone unprepared to hurt themselves for a novelty that will be forgotten by the time the new year rolls around. It is a healthy, simple response to an unhealthy, complicated reaction to something which really does not matter.

I can train myself out of anxiety in shops, cafes, or while boarding public transport, because those are situations that happen almost daily, with predictable outcomes and clear objectives. Secret Santa comes round once a year like a hammer of randomness, and that just isn’t often enough to prepare for it.

I hope you are well


P.S I’m going to drop you a very short email later this week once The Christmas Santa Slept is definitely running free with a very clear link and not a lot of waffle. I might even make a direct link for those of you who don’t like giving Jeff “A-Z” Bezos the attention.

P.P.S. Remember that as a member of this community, only you will get the opportunity to pick up 500ish Days In The Quiet Room at a scarily low introductory price, and after launch only you will get a digital copy of the companion collection All Better Now for absolutely free!

I’m Getting Married in the First Place

Hi! See that coloured box there? It’s a little content preview tag I’m trying out to let you know what to expect in the email you’re about to read.

Anyway, last Thursday was World Mental Health Day. I had some opinions about that which some perceived as a bit negative and almost aggressive, and I can maybe see why.

Support for mental health issues is so central to what I believe and the work I create that sometimes it can go without saying in situations where it needs to be said.

I wasn’t attacking mental health support, just concerned that it is starting to be treated like an endzone when it should really be the first step.

Anyway, you can read what I said in the archive here, and I’m more than happy to keep discussing it. That’s what your favourite email client’s Reply button was made for.

It’s okay to steal assets if those assets include assets stolen from somewhere else. Probably.

World Mental Health Day 2019 was also the day that I wanted to release 500ish Days In The Quiet Room and All Better Now. Scratch that, World Mental Health Day 2018 was the day that I wanted to release them.

I could berate myself for taking so long – and I do! – but it turns out that writing about mental illness recovery whilst going through mental illness recovery is not exactly as easy or comfortable as writing about fantasy heroes, twenty-somethings who talk to ghosts, or werewolves that run crematoriums.

Also, I’m getting married in two weeks! It takes a little time, dedication and planning to embrace one of the most important days of your life. (D’awwww)

So I’m giving myself a break on deadlines. In fact, I’m throwing every deadline out the window. Launch dates will present themselves when the books are ready to launch.

Two people who are probably married enjoy what is probably their honeymoon.

The good news is, you’ll still be getting all the work-in-progress previews along the way, although not on a very consistent schedule. For example, I’ve recently half-written a piece on believing your own hype, and another on how going a week without saying anything negative – events bout yourself.

You might get them next week, you might get them in four weeks (when my honeymoon is over), but you will get them.

I hope you are well.

P.S. The best thing about this decision is that this will probably be the last email from this community that explains how the community works! I’ve run too many blogs that turned into constant apologies for a lack of content to let that keep happening.

P.P.S. Remember that as a member of this community, only you will get the opportunity to pick up 500ish Days In The Quiet Room at a scarily low introductory price, and after launch only you will get a digital copy of the companion collection All Better Now for absolutely free!

Every Mind Matters / We All Get Sad Sometimes


There’s two emails you might receive from me this week, a planned one, and an unplanned one. This is the unplanned one. What’s life without a little surprise?

I’m going to jump right into what I want to talk about. This week in the UK, the NHS launched Every Mind Matters, a very high profile and strong concept campaign providing support and awareness for mental health issues, focused around the idea that everyone will face them at some point in their life.

Here’s some of their branding, which I suppose I’ve technically stolen, but since I’m crediting them and it includes both their message and their call to action, I don’t feel too guilty about it.

It’s bold and effective, and I’ve just noticed that little logo is a cute combination of a thought bubble and a brain. Nice. They’ve got a high concept TV spot feature lots of celebrities and lots of “normal” (fame-typical?) people being honest and endearing.

The agenda is clear and a positive one.

It’s okay to experience stress. It’s common to experience anxiety. Depressive thoughts, self-doubt, and feelings of loss and rejection are frequent and universal, and the NHS has provided some resources and advice on how to handle them.

That’s the NHS, the provider of public (and some private) healthcare in the UK. Not a charity, not a foundation or institute, but our actual healthcare provider, sitting up and taking notice of the absolute ubiquity of mental health issues, and providing active assistance for them.

So here comes the cynicism. Firstly, of course the NHS is interested in providing mental health support before the first point of contact. If people are enabled to deal with their mental health on their own, they’re less likely to approach their doctor or surgery, and will in turn free up NHS resources.

There’s nothing wrong with a healthcare provider wanting to free up its resources though, and there’s nothing wrong with raising support and awareness for mental health issues.

But… most of this support is things we have heard before. Healthy diets. Walks in the woods. Asserting your need for space and respect in the workplace and at home. Making time for yourself. Mindfulness and wellness. All great approaches for dealing with mental health issues, but not mental illness.

A walk in the woods won’t cure your obsessive compulsive disorder. Your PTSD will not be resolved by a hearty stew. Schizophrenia does not go away if you have a long bath.

The campaign doesn’t make any claims to fix these illnesses. Fair enough.

My real concern is how it could affect the public perception of mental illness. It has taken a long time – pretty much the entire young adult part of my life, if I’m honest and subjective – for responses to depression and anxiety to rise above the isolating “we all get sad sometimes” suck-it-up attitudes.

The Every Mind Matters campaign is a step in the right direction, but the drive to present mental health issues as universal runs the risk of standardising all social and psychological concerns across the board, and “We all get sad sometimes” becomes “Well a walk in the woods worked for me”.

There’s the possibility of a sort of ungrateful stigma being applied to those who need something more, those for whom a woodland walk and a nice bath isn’t enough, because their mental illness is just that- an illness that requires treatment.

“We raised awareness of depression at the bake sale last month, what more do you want? Well our Sandra found that meditation helped with her nerves, what’s so special about you that it can’t fix your anxiety?”

When you normalise mental health, you remove something from the individual experience, and risk forcing it into a more standardised and typical framework, which is particularly problematic when the boundaries between mental health and mental illness are still so blurred.

Anyway, that’s my unfinished thought. I’m going to be bringing you a lot more unfinished thoughts, because I think they work better than the more meticulously planned out and frankly kinda dull essay emails. Also I promised you behind-the-scenes material for All Better Now, and well – you just read some.

Like all works-in-progress and unfinished thoughts it is open to discussion, and if you want to have one you just go ahead and hit that reply button.

That’s me opening myself up to whatever your responses might entail, which is a semi-big deal. You don’t have to be nice, but try to be human.

I hope you are well.

P.S This month I tried to go 7 days without saying or posting a negative word about another person. It was difficult, refreshing, and I’ll tell you all about it soon.

P.P.S. Remember that as a member of this community, only you will get the opportunity to pick up 500ish Days In The Quiet Room at a scarily low introductory price, and after launch only you will get a digital copy of the companion collection All Better Now for absolutely free!

Behind the Scenes: Can You Feel the Force? Star Wars vs Pride

Hi, long time no speak.

In my time (so far!) I’ve run maybe eight or nine blogs of varying content, from the tongue-in-cheek reviews of Crap Looking Books to the crossbow-skills-development of Points ‘n’ Pens. They all end the same way, a slow reduction in posts accompanied by apologies for not posting more.

And then they die.

That’s the one great thing about this member’s community, I don’t feel the need to deluge you with substandard content or apologies in order to retain your interest. So when I say “Hi, long time no speak.” it’s neither a good thing or a bad thing, it’s just a thing!

One thing I promised you last month was a little behind the scenes peak at my writing process, specifically for the short piece Can you Feel the Force? Star Wars vs Pride. Here it is.

Like pretty much any work, the First Step was to put off writing it for as long a possible, until it was screaming at the inside of my head, begging me to get on with it.

Step Two. Demented scribbling. It’s important to me to write every day. Sometimes this means a neatly typed letter. More often than not, it means demented scribbling.

Step Three. Type up those scribbles, correcting any mistakes and madness in the process, then print that out, because fuck the planet, apparently.

Step Four. Multiple start-to-finish passes on those neatly typed paragraphs, with multiple pens. This is the real edit, where things I’m proud of that make no sense get thrown out, and the key points that were in danger of drowning get brought to the surface.

Step Five. Type up those freshly-scribbled edits again, then read the whole piece out loud multiple times in multiple styles, usually while pacing the room. My brain always lets mistakes slide in silent reading, but I can’t ignore them when they’re being read out by CAROL AND HER SILLY VOICES.

Step Six. Post that thing online, send it to you guys, and sit quietly hoping that somebody loves it, and by extension, loves me.

Here’s the real behind the scenes scoop though – whilst the article was something I really wanted to write and genuinely felt strongly about, my main reason for publishing and sharing it was to test the effectiveness of Facebook’s audience targeting.

Sinister! Sounds a little sinister doesn’t it? Cambridge Analytica and a bunch of Russian hackers might have ruined the image of micro-targeting, but it’s actually a great resource for making sure that the people who might enjoy something are more likely to see it.

Targeting the post to people who read English AND are interested in LGBTQIA+ issues AND fans of Star Wars gathered a lot of positive responses… and a few erroneous Star Wars hatin’ homophobes who really need to examine their online footprint (and maybe their attitude).

It’s encouraging, because when 500ish Days In The Quiet Room and All Better Now are launched later this year, I’ve got the confidence to properly filter the audience for those too. Loud, confident voices might get heard the most, but it’s the targeted, thoughtful voices that get heard by the right people, the people who need to hear what I have to share.

I hope you are well.

P.S This month I tried to go 7 days without saying or posting a negative word about another person. It was difficult, refreshing, and I’ll tell you all about it soon.

P.P.S. I haven’t made any new work recently but I did review two books, The Night Circus, and The Ravenglass Eye. Spoiler: both were pretty good.

P.P.P.S. Remember that as a member of this community, only you will get the opportunity to pick up 500ish Days In The Quiet Room at a scarily low introductory price, and after launch only you will get a digital copy of the companion collection All Better Now for absolutely free!

The Icelandic for Courage is Hugrekki!

Hi! So here’s the preview I promised you a week or two back. It’s a bit hefty and I considered cutting it down a little, but ultimately I decided that in this case, more is more. Enjoy!

So I started November like no month before (or again), by going on honeymoon in Iceland. It is a gorgeous, other-worldly country that I recommend to anyone who’s never spent much time North of The Wall.

From a writerly point-of-view, some key highlights were the 16th century hymn books in the National Museum, paying £50 for just two Icelandic small press books, and spending a few discomfiting hours observing what passes for open mic comedy in Reykjavík (basically, what passed for open mic comedy in the UK twenty years ago… dead baby, haha).

Anyway, what brings this round to our key themes and ties things together nice and thematically is the film we watched on the outbound flight. 2019’s coming of age literary biopic, Tolkien.

Iceland and the other Nordic countries have a rich tradition of sagas, myths and legends, which Tolkien and his contemporaries were influenced heavily by, notably in their so-called battle cry for the living, “Helheimr!”, an invigoration to steel the nerves in the face of an intimidating barrier to a desirable outcome.

Hymn books alone don’t mean a lot to me, but emotionally-important books that were used regularly in daily life over 400 years ago? That’s something to make me go “oooh” and take a photo.

Screwing your courage to the sticking-plate is a key theme of mental health, and one I’m quite familiar with in practice and motivational material. Whether that’s Nordic myth, the line of Macbeth I just quietly butchered, or my Green Lantern tattoo – which signifies willpower in the face of fear, and did so years before it grew to symbolise a half-baked Ryan Reynolds movie.

When my anxiety and PTSD forced me to wear a helmet of screaming bees in crowded rooms made of broken glass and paper, summoning the quiet courage to overcome self-doubt was an obvious path, albeit not an easy one.

With my “treatment” “over”, things are a little different. I’ve often talked about the echo of anxiety, a sort of learned unwillingness to do things that used to scare you even if they don’t anymore. The importance of steeling against a fear of minor social interactions and everyday activities is a key focus of recovery, but when everything stops requiring courage, it’s hard to know what actually does.

Here’s what £50 will get you in English language Icelandic small press publications, whether you buy them local or buy them online. It feels good to support small publishers. It has to, at that price.

For example, do you go to that whisky bar you’ve heard a lot about, that seems kind of cool and just your scene? It’s the sort of thing that used to make you anxious, and likely drive you to yell “Helheimr!” or “Green Lantern’s Light!” and march yourself inside to order something with pre-rehearsed theatrical confidence, but now it doesn’t make you anxious, it just makes you sort of unsure. It’s your honeymoon, after all, so you should be able to indulge in the things you like – but oh, you have that excursion tomorrow, so you probably shouldn’t.

That sounds like making an excuse not to bother, doesn’t it?

I once had tickets to a cyr wheel workshop (Google them, they’re awesome) the day after a former colleague was holding their leaving drinks. I thought better of it and fancied an early night, but my post-anxiety brain processed this as an excuse not to bother, and we hit the tiles. Helheimr! Suddenly the bold thing to do was drink all night, and hopefully still have the fortitude to smash the class the next day. Obviously that was bullshit, and my bloated morning carcass missed the chance to learn cyr wheel. Those don’t come around often.

Embracing the loudest thing isn’t necessarily braver than knowing when to duck out of the easy option, to hold off your battle cry and take a reasoned look at what the best course of action is. Sometimes the most intimidating thing is to actually say no, and go with the quieter, more valuable option.

If you’re really nervous and you want to do the scary thing, you should. But if you’re curious and eager about something quieter and potentially more difficult, sacrificing the immediate noisy plan might be harder but often more rewarding.

It’s something that’s well illustrated by the following scribbled notes, the outline for a loose five minutes of rebuttal stand-up that I wrote after experiencing a gaggle of Icelanders and tourists chuckle away at the ‘R’ word.

One day, if you’re lucky, I’ll tell you the Brussels Story.

If I was back in that comedy club, notes in hand, I’d happily leap up on stage and do that set, blood pumping with nerves and voice breaking with excitement. I’d deliver my after-the-fact comedy with a little anxiety, but an anxiety processed like just another energy in the room with me.

On the street the next day, thinking about going back, I wasn’t anxious. I had my set in hand but there was no screaming in my head arguing if I should go back the venue, no angry bees throwing up barriers and concerns in my way. There was nothing to yell “Helheimr!” against and dive forward. The buzzy excitement of being in that room had passed and all I was left with was the calm decision to possibly return there, perhaps.

And I didn’t.

I told myself it wasn’t important, because it wasn’t loud in my head.

It wasn’t important, or vital, or required, but it would have been good. Even in our busy honeymoon week there was space to do it, and if anything, saying I finally did my “first five” on my honeymoon would have added another great layer to an already blistering week of memories. It would have been something that enriched me, and maybe pushed me on to something bigger. In the cold light of Icelandic day, it just didn’t make enough of the right noises for me to realise.

Back in my screaming bee helmet of constant anxiety, it would have made noise because everything made noise – deciding what to have for lunch, choosing which urinal to use, answering the phone, or talking to friends and colleagues… I would have rallied towards it, because I had to rally towards everything.

I’m not saying that I miss my constant anxiety, but in its increasing absence I’ve realised the need to learn a new method of finding and dismantling the things that matter, to find not only signals in the noise but signals in the silence, and tune my personal radio to the right frequencies. Then comes the time to dive in with boldness and bravery, then comes the time to shine with courage and bellow the battle cry.


I hope you are well

Did you enjoy this? The difficulties of “wellness” as some sort of finished, healed state is the central theme of my upcoming book All Better Now, which as a member of my community you’ll receive a free digital copy of at launch, and for which you’ll continue to receive preview material just like this until then.

P.S Things you can look forward to soon include some short words on Secret Santa, a heads-up on when my Christmas book is going to be free, and that piece on an enforced lack of negativity, which I mentioned a while back.

P.P.S. Remember that as a member of this community, only you will get the opportunity to pick up 500ish Days In The Quiet Room at a scarily low introductory price, and after launch only you will get a digital copy of the companion collection All Better Now for absolutely free!

Can you feel the force? Star Wars vs Pride


I promised that as members you would receive early access to articles and essays, so here’s one!

Below is a post that I’m sharing on social media later this week, on the commercialisation of LGBTQIA pride, and the similarities between how I feel about that and how I feel about the constant growth of the Star Wars franchise.

It’s a little bit of tongue-in-cheek humour and wordplay, and while it may read like a downer I certainly had fun writing it. If it’s not really your thing then that’s fine, but keep your eyes open next week for a small behind-the-scenes email on the writing process, and how I’m using that system as a positive development tool.

Anyway, here it is…

Lately, I feel the same way about Pride that I do about Star Wars.

When I was a kid, almost no-one I knew had really even heard of Star Wars. When it found me, there was something I instantly loved about the fantastical tone, remarkable content, and sense of a believable and inhabitable universe more vibrant than my own.

Every day after school I would race home for the brief less-than-half-hour when no one else was around. Just enough uninterrupted time on the downstairs television to pick up where I left off and watch as much of the trilogy as possible before I was ushered out of the room in favour of more normal viewing. Then I’d disappear to the attic where me and an array of mismatched toys would write our own Star Wars stories, with me embraced and welcome at the centre.

If I saw the Star Wars logo or even just a similar one, I would race towards it. Nestled in toyshops and bookstores amongst all the stuff that was for everyone else and always had been, Star Wars was mine, something tailored towards me and those few like me. I’d empty my bank account and search every sofa cushion for every spare penny, just to have another piece of that thing that made me feel more like who I was.

Sometimes it wasn’t very good (AT-ST airfix kit I’m looking at you), but it didn’t matter, it was still Star Wars. Sometimes it wasn’t even Star Wars exactly, just something similar enough that I could incorporate aspects of it into that world of wonder and belonging.

I could find Star Wars where Star Wars was never intended.

Now I’m not a kid anymore, and Star Wars is everywhere. There currently are four times as many movies as there were then, with each new release engineered to be a pre-destined summer or winter blockbuster.
The Star Wars logo, still so recognisable, no longer represents a rallying flag to charge towards. It adorns bags of tortilla chips, skate shoes, broadband deals, insurance offers, and sanitary products.

There is no longer a scarcity of Star Wars toys. Every prop and person of that franchise is represented in some consumable, purchasable form. It is a franchise, too. It is a lumbering directionless thing that no longer seems to represent what I found so welcoming and personal about it. Every narrative that could possibly be extracted has been, and stories that have nothing of the magic of that early Star Wars have been allied into a canon of bright lights and no substance.

It was a long time after I needed it that I realised Pride was for me. Not that it was mine to take or purchase, but that it was something that was placed there for me, an open door that said Hey kid, that thing you feel inside you has a name and a way to make sense of it in the world.

Awareness of Pride and LGBTQIA was a point of light in a gloomy near-dark-side that I didn’t know I was falling to, shining me a path past all the things that didn’t quite seem like they were meant for me. Everywhere I saw it or felt its influence I felt more like myself, briefly picked up and embraced.

Now, every supermarket has an official sandwich of Pride. The lightest side of the LGBTQIA rainbow shines with money, not warming light, and companies who build factories in countries where I’d have to hide who I am fund politicians who seek to curtail my rights while busily telling me that we’re in some sort of Alliance together.

The welcoming doors to that inhabitable universe no longer seem to exist in the clear, purposeful way that they once did. The flag of Pride is like the Star Wars logo, slapped on the side of everything and nothing. It is more of an annoyance than a welcoming embrace, a trick of the light that flies at half-mast in a consumerist galaxy no longer that far away.

I don’t swell with Pride when I see Star Wars any more. I don’t feel The Force when I see Pride.


P.S. Remember, as a member of my community, only you will get the opportunity to pick up 500ish Days In The Quiet Room at a scarily low introductory price, and after launch only you will get a digital copy of the companion collection All Better Now, absolutely free!

The Death and Rebirth of the Inside Room

From where I’m sitting, I can see 5 separate dry erase boards, a wall planner bigger than my desk, and a bank of post-it notes that follow a system only myself and Columbo could understand. That’s how I run my office. There’s notes on my phone, notes in my notebooks, and huge files of notes on my computer, but anything tenacious or currently vital gets thrown up onto the walls.

Right in front of me, just underneath a nearly-haiku about writing while drunk, there’s this burning missive:

It Never Has To Be Right First Time. I strongly believe that if the work you’re doing isn’t the best you can do at the time, it isn’t worth doing. That doesn’t mean it’s going to be perfect, hit the right mark, or sell millions. (I’ve talked about dealing with failure before, which is something you can read about in the archive.) More importantly it doesn’t mean that the first “best” thing you write or build is going to be the same as the final work.

What exactly am I dancing around here? Well, despite it still being pretty early days, I’m dropping the name of The Inside Room.

But why Nick? We loved “The Inside Room”! The name meant so much to us and gave us such a sense of belonging!

Yeah I’m not convinced that anyone, myself included, has a strong attachment to the name or even knows exactly what it means. Here’s a little explanation of my original intent, according to a draft of an email which I never sent to you:

“The idea of The Inside Room is that little private room at the centre of your home, the one with no external windows or doors. Maybe you keep your hobbies there. Maybe it’s a library or studio. Maybe it’s the bathroom where you retreat for privacy and long soak. Or maybe your home is just one room, and everything you have and everything you are is inside it. Maybe you live on the road and carry the room inside you the whole time.”

That’s a whole lot of maybes, and quite a bit of waffle. The idea is nice, so why am I getting rid of it? Two words. Brand recognition.

There’s an ongoing joke in the Ricky Gervais sitcom “Extras” where Ricky’s character and his agent struggle to maintain clarity between When The Whistle Blows, When The Wind Blows, and The Wind In The Willows.

Beyond “Nick Sheridan” and “No! I do NOT have too many books!” I don’t have a whole lot of brand strength. The Inside Room and 500ish Days In The Quiet Room might be two obvious and distinct properties to me, but they’re way too similar to keep separate and memorable when asking people to get onboard with something new.

So what am I going to call this instead? Right now… nothing. Referring to “my members community” or “my subscribers club” is much more effective and relevant for the time being than promoting yet another named property. Everybody knows where they are with a members community, and rejected alternative titles like “Sheridan’s Sharing Den” and “The Inside Tribe” ask more questions than they answer.

What does this mean for you? Right now and forever… nothing. The only thing that will change about this community is the banner that the emails go out under. You’ll still have access to all the freebies and discounts I’ve promised, and be party to exciting behind-the-scenes developments, just like this one!

After all, what’s in a name?


P.S You’ll always get to say that you were OG members, that you were “there” back in the glorious The Inside Room days.

P.P.S I’m also dropping the title 500(ish) Days In The Quiet Room in favour of 500ish Days In The Quiet Room. Why? Well, it just looks nicer.

P.P.P.S. Remember, as a member of whatever this is called, only you will get the opportunity to pick up 500ish Days In The Quiet Room at a scarily low introductory price, and after launch only you will get a digital copy of the companion collection All Better Now for absolutely free!