The Quandary

I am by no means an expert in anything but when it comes to being me I am a fucking pro

I’ve sweated these past few days about how to write this post. I had intended to attempt to justify the course of action I am about to take, before then realising that I didn’t have to explain myself at all. Firstly, the circumstances that led me to this juncture are too complex to pack into a single post – secondly, I’ve over-explained myself already – and thirdly, too many spoilers! No amount of explanation can adequately convey what is the most finely sprung state of affairs you can possbly imagine (think tight-ropes, nooses and crocodile clips).

I have no doubt that many will look at my actions and think “What the ****?” Suffice to say that I have agonised long and hard over this and, given the specifics of my circumstances, it is the most appropriate action I can take.

It is what it is. Stay tuned …

M K MacInnes
5 October 2020

A Prayer for the Young 2020

PRAYER for the Young was a piece I wrote in 2016. It was more of a wish list of how I wanted the world to be. Since then much has already changed in a very short space of time, while in other ways, same old, same old. I thought I might read through it again to compare my thoughts then to the way things are now, on the off-chance that I might be able to cross something off the list.

Sadly, no chance, albeit that we are moving in the right direction. One thing’s for sure, though, deep down every man and his dog knows that we have crossed a threshold, and while we have seen the worst of humanity, the best of who we are has been to the fore. Now, regardless of colour, creed, nationality, economic status, gender, ability or political persuasion, the only binary choice we have to make is whether to operate from a position of Love or Fear.

A Prayer for the Young – original article

Reality check 2020

Young woman wearing virtual reality glasses

WHEN I published my first short story collection, Close Call: Short and Bittersweet, I dedicated it to ‘the two Gerries, without the shadow of whose memory this my first book would never have seen the light of day’. My brother asked me who the other Gerry was and I told him it was a reference to our late mother’s schizophrenia (she was a Gerry too). Well, that was only partly true. My choice of words was designed to be ambiguous. So in effect, I lied.

There are things even my closest friends and family never knew about me that I’ve lugged around for years. I may have dropped little jigsaw pieces here and there, that is when I did feel inclined to discuss it. But the bigger picture was so mind-blowing and at times surreal that even when I tried, I could never find the words. The only way was to write it. And that has taken years and many false starts.

My biggest problem was never the writing but the perceived risks of attempting to get it published. It describes a unique inner journey and under normal circumstances, the right publisher would bite my hand off. However, it is loaded with legal implications and I can’t very well pass it around in the expectation of confidentiality. And I can only disguise my characters up to a point without killing the story. Particularly as it has an ethical and spiritual angle to it, it has been my goal all along to act with the best intent towards the individuals who co-created it. Which is all very well if you can get hold of them and they are not surrounded by a metaphorical barbed wire fence.

Another dilemma I faced was deciding who my readers were. The closest genre would be ‘spiritual memoir’. However, a wider readership, for whom some of the themes I touch on would have little or no appeal, might have altogether different motivations. I would rather sell fewer copies to a smaller audience, for whom the subject matter is meaningful and potentially life-changing. It is something of a paradox that to get people to read it at all, I have to play to the crowd.

And so for the past several years I have danced around the invisible elephant in the room. Pissed in the wind, if I’m honest, by trying to produce ‘other’ stories while the real, the important, the infinitely more sellable work grew arms and legs (two sequels are already underway).

That I now find myself about to publish the first couple of chapters in order to get the ball rolling and generate income to get myself out of the proverbial is deeply unsettling. I have had to weigh up not only my interests and those of my master catalyst but those of society at large. For a start, the full version of my story offers insights that may be helpful in gaining a better understanding of PTSD, possibly even Alzheimers, and I have a duty to share what I know. Having suffered a neurological condition for the last two years, I am only too aware of the role of the psyche in self-healing. Which brings me to the inescapable truth that in order to fully recover, and safeguard my mental and physical health, I must tell my tale. The risks of doing nothing outweigh the risks of doing something.

With the most recent plot twist in our collective fortunes, the COVID-19 pandemic, I have found myself staring at an opportunity – and justification – to act. With recession imminent and my options to keep a roof over my head running out, that’s one almighty stick. The carrot is the global appetite for stories of self-healing that capture the collective imagination – and potential readers have time on their hands. I have known for at least the last decade that telling this story was the sole reason for my very existence. If our hour of direst need is not the time to bring it to fruition, then my entire life will have been for nothing.

The course of action I am taking now, touch wood, is the most significant hurdle I am likely to have to deal with. Before a publisher will stake their reputation on it, I have to remove at least some of the risk. I will almost certainly need the broad shoulders of an established publisher to pull this off in the longer term.

Over the years I have remarked that the best analogy for my life is walking a tightrope with a noose around my neck and crocodile clips around my balls (I don’t have any but you get the drift). If I make it to full publication, you will discover just how accurate that statement – and warranted my occasional use of profanity – really is.

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M K MacInnes
June 2020

Reality Check 2017

reality check graphic

A YEAR and a half ago, having got Close Call: Short and Bittersweet under my belt and deciding that becoming the next J K Rowling was a tad ambitious, my master plan was to develop my ‘brand’ and complete all the projects I had already started … while holding down two day jobs …

It still hasn’t quite gone according to plan. I have failed miserably at maintaining my blog and I still haven’t got any of my short stories published in a literary journal. As ever, the biggest barriers are time and resources, particularly a quiet place to work during down time from my day job – and perhaps too much emphasis on entering competitions to try and raise funds. Meanwhile, the passion project I started in 2013 is on the back burner, while I concentrate on more achievable goals …

On the bright side, I’ve had all the therapy I’ll ever need and never had to pay for it …

Moe recently, since my writing style leans towards the filmic anyway, I began to experiment with screenwriting. Now, since completing an introductory course at Edinburgh Uni, I am renting desk space one day a week in a film production office and have started a feature film and script versions of three of my short stories. I let each story ‘choose’ the medium it is most comfortable with – a story that has potential as both a book and a film is more appealing to me right now and I have a wee bank of stories in both formats.

My priorities then over the remainder of 2017 are:

  • finish a novel I started a few years ago and secure an agent, with an eye on later developing it into a script
  • finish my feature film script before October, so that I can get it to just the right industry professional at a writers retreat for which I have won a partial scholarship that I still can’t afford (bawling my eyes out). But since I do believe in miracles, you just never know …

Both projects offer me the best chance of success, with scope for some form of mentorship. Also:

  • plug away at getting short story publication in a literary journal
  • seek out an indie film-maker who might be interested in one of my short scripts
  • maybe even resuscitate my blog.

And so ends my manifesto to myself …

July 2017

 

A Prayer for the Young

Untitled

I DREAM of a world where material wealth and power do not rest in the hands of the few, where people are judged not by how much beauty or wealth they have but by their ability to enhance the lives of those around them through their deeds. I dream of a world where the accumulation of money and resources for its own sake is seen as downright odd.

I wish for a world where every man, woman and child has everything they need, not just to survive but to thrive, where how people choose to make a living is dictated not by the promise of a huge salary but by the things they are passionate about and the potential contribution they will make to society. I wish for a world where people eat to live, not just for the hell of it – and they buy houses as homes, not investments.

I believe in a world where the wanton destruction of the Earth for a few scraps of gold is regarded as insane and humanity works with instead of against her. In this reality, we stopped thinking of colonising other worlds a long time ago so that we could learn to look after our own.

I imagine a world where no-one has dominion over another and service to others is by choice not by expectation. In my world, those who are vulnerable or in need are free from exploitation or abuse and every man, woman and child is at liberty to fulfil their own destiny free of the labels assigned to them from birth.

I yearn for a world where people procreate in order to create the best possible future for their kids, not to increase their own standing. In such a world, it doesn’t occur to anyone to have children until they know they are ready for the responsibility.

Above all, I live for a world that shows our children the value of mutual respect. A world that teaches them to expect nothing and to appreciate everything. To think for themselves and not to put blind faith in institutions or corporations or the media. In this reality, we can see through smoke and mirrors without the use of an app and do not wait for others to tell us what to think.

So let it be.

Reality check November 2015

THIRTEEN months ago, I was in the first stages of setting up my online presence as a newly self-employed ‘writer/ghostwriter’ and my first collection of short stories, Close Call: Short and Bittersweet. Woo hoo! My intention was that by the end of 2015, I would be well on my way to becoming the next J K Rowling …

♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

BY the time I published Close Call in April and got the marketing underway, I was already running low on funds. So I swallowed my pride and looked for a day job. The timing couldn’t have been worse – I lost momentum at the most crucial point in my campaign.

In the end, I found myself with two part-time jobs, one office based and one as a waitress. On one level, I was trapped for most of the summer, on another I would have gone mad with the isolation of writing at home all day. The sheer physicality of working in a busy tea room has kept me grounded and in reasonable shape and I have had the great pleasure of working with a great bunch of people – mostly half my age!

For the first time in my life, I have just enough job security to pay the bills and just enough flexibility to write my little heart out. What more could a girl ask for.

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THING is, even with more free time on my hands, production and marketing don’t mix – which is why self-publishing is such a ball ache. I am the publisher. This means by the time I have faffed around with my blog, twittered around with my social media, requested reviews, networked with other writers, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera, I have even less time to write. In fact, contact with my iphone switches off my creative juices altogether. And this only compounds the sense that my window of opportunity is closing …

So I have had to make a decision. Continue plugging my first book, or move on. Methinks I should draw a line. Although Close Call has hardly made a dent in the bestseller list, I did achieve what I set out to do. That is to produce a portfolio that would demonstrate my style and approach as a ghostwriter to potential clients. And it’s been an excellent dry run for my next projects.

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MY master plan now is to continue building my social media network, develop my ‘brand’ and soldier on with the bigger projects I have already started, while in the short term produce individual short stories for publication in literary journals. As for this blog, it simply isn’t feasible for me to pump out masses of ‘content’ every single day, so my goal is to consistently produce one short story a week (and anything else that inspires me in between). It’s a tall order, I know, but I have a whole winter ahead of me and more free time to get my act together.

2016 promises to be my most challenging year yet. Watch this space.