Featured Writer on Wellness: Cinda MacKinnon

Filed in Writers on Wellness by on June 4, 2015 • views: 1960

CindaI’ve had trouble with neck pain.

For awhile I couldn’t work for more than 30 minutes at a time.  I also developed wrist and thumb pain.

Apart from the computer I sometimes lose my voice after a presentation—and could never do two in a row.  (Hey, I have dry eyes too but didn’t realize it was a “writer’s symptom!”)

My neck trouble forced me to learn to use software that allows me to talk to my PC—but it is just not the same! Now I set a timer for 30 minutes and that makes me get up and stretch, or at least reminds me to watch my posture, and that helps with both the hand and the neck issues.

I find both an exercise ball and stretchy bands (looped over my office door handle) useful.  I take an aerobic dance class twice a week that is lots of fun. At least one other day I try to walk or ride my bike.

A hot tip?  Change your chair 2-3 times a day—or at least vary the angle and height slightly.

For the throat problem I drink slippery elm tea, and take it with me to a talk.  I rest my voice the day before and have started taking voice lessons with exercises that seem to be helping me use my voice box differently.

Cinda writing with her slippery elm tea.

Cinda writing with her slippery elm tea.

Social Life? What Social Life?

I get overwhelmed by all a writer has to do besides writing.  I feel like social media etc. has taken me away from actual writing (story-telling).  My real social life has gone downhill—it was better before I “retired” to this second career!

This has not been a huge emotional problem, but several things help in dealing with life’s ups and downs in general: exercise is the main way I deal with stress, and secondly, meditation (although I’m not very faithful about it, it is calming).

I find that walking (with or without the dog) in nature is when I get my best ideas and work through problems; the other time seems to be in the middle of the night! I keep a notepad next to my bed now.

Cinda welcomes distractions from her dog, NAME.

Cinda welcomes distractions from her dog, Gaston.

The Darkest Moment: Rejection

I guess the thought that I might never be published. Sending out query letters and receiving more rejections than crumbs of praise can be draining.

You have to keep plugging—you have to believe in what you are doing—you can’t be thin-skinned. Joining a writers group was helpful for me. I was lucky in that they were all good writers and knew how to critique diplomatically and balance with encouragement.

Caveat: I was briefly in a writer’s group where two people thought they knew everything and ruthlessly tore apart people’s manuscripts…. You have to find the right troupe!

The One Thing That Has Kept You On Your Path

Well I have always written, whenever I had time, so in a way there was no stopping me.  Up until a decade ago, I never showed my work to anyone (except for two short stories that were published) or talked about writing.

My husband was aware that I was writing, but I only had time on nights and weekends. With my novel, I had a story that was playing out in my head all the time. Once I retired I began to devote five to ten hours a day to writing and found a writers group was a catalyst.

At some point my husband began to encourage me (although he could also be my harshest critic!).  Once the book was finished. he was keen to help me polish it and certain it should be published.

Advice for a Young Writer

First that very few authors ever strike it rich.  It is a reality check for some to find the majority cannot quit their day jobs.

Writers tend to be compelled however, so it is worth sticking with it if you can be disciplined. To learn the craft you must be a reader first. Read thoughtfully, take notes on character, plot development, etc.  Most writers at some point take a course to learn the basics, some even get a Master of Fine Arts.

* * *

Cinda Crabbe MacKinnon grew up in Latin America. She began telling stories to her little brother when they were children in Bogotá. Her experiences and love for the people, culture and natural setting of Colombia resulted in her novel, A Place in the World. A writer, former university lecturer, and environmental scientist, she has an MS in geology and a longtime passion for botany. This background enables her to weave in details on tropical nature and geology, as well as Latin American society, into her writing.

Cinda has published short stories as well as articles in journals on environmental topics; she received the William Penn Mott Jr. Award for environmental advocacy. She lives in northern California with her husband Tom and their golden retriever.

For more information on Cinda and her writing, please see her website, or follow her on Facebook, Goodreads, or Pinterest.


thumbnail cvrA Place in the World: When her Colombian husband deserts her on his family’s coffee farm in a remote part of the Andes, Alicia struggles to make a life there for herself and her son even as guerrilla uprisings begin to threaten the area, and a nearby volcano rumbles to life.

This passionate story, about a young biologist and a multinational cast of characters, is like a South American Out of Africa in the final decades of 1900’s.

Runner-up Indie Fiction, 2014 San Francisco Writers Conference. Semifinalist for the 2014 Kindle Best Book Awards in the Literary Fiction Category.  Also short-listed for Writer’s Digest Self-published Book Award.

Available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Virtual Bookworm.

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Comments (6)

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  1. A terrific article from Cinda. I’ve always enjoyed her writing, and now I can appreciate her health tips as well.
    Lovely guest post!

  2. I can relate to so much of this, especially the lack of social life! With a FT job, writing novels, and trying to build my writing career, who has time for “fun?” I’ve realized there has to be a healthy balance between busy work and my relationships with others, so I’ve scheduled a small amount of time for being social each week. At first it was hard. But now it’s a regular part of my week that I look forward to.

    Wonderful interview, Cinda and Colleen!

    • Colleen says:

      A great idea, Crissi. We have to schedule these things in!

    • Cinda says:

      Hi Crissi- Colleen has a good blog doesn’t she?
      I find myself over-scheduled too ( and my kids are grown!)… but if I don’t add lunch with friends etc. to my calendar the weeks go by without seeing them. (And you have to have lunch!)

  3. Cinda says:

    Thank you Colleen for inviting me to be a Featured Writer on your interesting blog.
    (I would like to reblog but don’t see a share WP button?)

    • Colleen says:

      Thank YOU for sharing your thoughts and tips, Cinda! It’s lovely to have you. I don’t have re-blogging set up, but please do feel free to share the URL.