Authors on Writing: ‘Night’ by Kerrie McKinnel

By Kerrie McKinnel

This is the second in a series of special blog posts in the run-up to the publication and launch of our first book, Lockerbie Writers’ Anthology: Stories and Poems from Annandale and Eskdale.

Here, Kerrie reflects on the inspiration behind her short story, ‘Night’, which features in the book.


I run until I’m sure he isn’t following in the car, and then stop, hands on knees, panting. Darkness surrounds me. The rain is invisible against the black sky but I can feel the cold drops tingling on my skin.

“I wait.”

(Extract from: Kerrie McKinnel, ‘Night’ in Lockerbie Writers’ Anthology: Stories and Poems from Annandale and Eskdale (2016, Publication details to be announced), pp.41-43.)

What on earth do I know about rivers? That was my first thought when Lockerbie Writers decided that the prompt for the next meeting would be ‘The River Annan’. I had a fortnight to produce 300 words on it, but really, what did I know except that they were wet and cold?

28-09-11 03 Brydekirk river.JPG
The River Annan on a sunny day.

Brainstorming a fortnight later (having, of course, left it until the night before to write something), I thought of all the times I’d walked along the banks of the River Annan. I’m lucky enough to live near it; in winter, when the trees are bare, I can see the river from my kitchen window. There had to be something I could write about. It was past 9pm, the house silent except for the November rain battering on the windows. If only it was summer and I could walk down to the river for inspiration, I thought with a smile, knowing I’d be drenched before I’d stepped off the doorstep.

And then, it came to me – the image of a woman slipping and sliding her way down the river bank, not caring about the dark or the rain because … well, you’ll just have to read the story and find out.

This is what I love about prompts. At Lockerbie Writers, we choose one at the end of each meeting, and most of them get a few laughs or raised eyebrows as everyone wonders what on earth they’ll find to write about – but the truth is, everybody can find a link to their own knowledge if they daydream about a topic for long enough. Often it’s the most obscure of prompts which produce the best writing.

‘Night’ can be read in full in Lockerbie Writers’ Anthology: Stories and Poems from Annandale and Eskdale, due to be released in April 2016. For publication and launch updates, please subscribe to this blog, or follow us on Facebook or Twitter.


 

About The Author

Kerrie McKinnel is a writer and student of the University of Glasgow’s MLitt Creative Writing. In 2015, her writing was included in two anthologies, and her poem, The Enchanted Forest, featured in a sound installation during the Dumfries Christmas Lights Switch-on. Her fiction is inspired by beaches and forests, dog-walking and chocolate, and the occasional fleeting memory of what life used to be like before board books and toddler tantrums.

Kerrie lives in rural south-west Scotland with her husband and son. She recently completed the first draft of her debut novel.

Kerrie writes a blog about her experiences of writing and her upcoming publications, which can be found at: http://www.kerriemckinnel.wordpress.com

Prompt to Proof: Reflections on the first four months of the self-publishing process, Part 1

By Kerrie McKinnel.

This is the first in a series of special blog posts in the run-up to the publication and launch of our first book, Lockerbie Writers’ Anthology: Stories and Poems from Annandale and Eskdale.


In 2015, Lockerbie Writers had an idea – they wanted to produce a book of their writing. The question was, where to begin? I started off by giving the group one prompt: ‘write something about Annandale and Eskdale’.

Four months later, and I’m sitting next to the proof copy of the anthology as I type. Here it is, soaking up the March sunshine!

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The proof copy of Lockerbie Writers’ Anthology.

So how did we get from prompt to proof copy? And, if you’re a member of a writing group or would like to self-publish individually, what could you learn from our journey?

Over the next few weeks, I’ll be sharing a few posts on our experiences – please leave a comment if there’s anything specific which you’d like to know!

To begin with, here are my top tips on getting your timings right.

 

* Begin with a Realistic Plan *

In November, when I (foolhardily?!) agreed to compile and publish this book on behalf of the Lockerbie Writers’ group, I had a plan. Of course I did – as anybody who knows me will be aware, I’m a bit obsessive like that. I spent afternoons researching self-publication and traditional publishing routes, speaking to other people who’d gone through similar projects, and generally finding out as much as I could about how long everything might take from the publishing side of things.

 

* Remember You’re Only Human! *

What I didn’t allow for, at least not initially, was the length of time which I’d have to add in for all the “human” elements. We chose to publish through CreateSpace, whose website gives you all sorts of facts and figures; for example, once you approve your proof copy then the book will normally appear for sale on Amazon.com and other websites within 3-5 days. This is the sort of stuff which I made copious notes about when I was putting together my timeline back in November.

And then you get to the part of my timeline where I allowed myself five days between the group’s deadline for submitting their work, and me uploading the draft document onto CreateSpace. Five days. Think about that. We had nine active group members, each producing up to 2,500 words. I’d given myself five days to read over 20,000 words, do any edits and send them back to the individual members for approval or otherwise, compile all of the revised documents, and then do all the necessary bits and bobs required to make the book look good – font, formatting, chapter listing, etc.

Five days. Not going to happen.

 

* Getting it Right in the End *

Thankfully, it worked out alright. I’ve had the privilege of working with a truly dedicated group. Once they realised how desperate I was to get the work sooner than I’d initially said, everyone stepped up to the challenge. More than half of the group got their final drafts to me by the end of January, allowing me and my co-editor, Godfrey, more time to edit. I continued to nag the rest of the group at every opportunity (meetings, emails, Facebook …) to get their work to me as soon as possible, and they did. By the end of February, the editing process was almost finished.

 

* Lesson Learned? *

Set a realistic deadline in the first place! It’s hard when you haven’t done it before, but I hope that this post will prove useful to someone else who’s just starting out into self-publishing, possibly for their own writing group.

The other lesson? Once you set a deadline, don’t be afraid to annoy other people by sticking to it. At the end of the day, I’m the one who’s had to work late into the night getting documents and edits pulled together. As I’ve seen, the contributors who are truly excited about getting their work featured will be only too happy to do what they can to help you reach your deadlines.


 

About The Author

Kerrie McKinnel is a writer and student of the University of Glasgow’s MLitt Creative Writing. In 2015, her writing was included in two anthologies, and her poem, The Enchanted Forest, featured in a sound installation during the Dumfries Christmas Lights Switch-on. Her fiction is inspired by beaches and forests, dog-walking and chocolate, and the occasional fleeting memory of what life used to be like before board books and toddler tantrums.

Kerrie lives in rural south-west Scotland with her husband and son. She recently completed the first draft of her debut novel.

Kerrie writes a blog about her experiences of writing and her upcoming publications, which can be found at: http://www.kerriemckinnel.wordpress.com