Tag Archives: philosophy

My Tao Te Ching book is now available to buy!

Hi everyone! I’m pleased to announce that the paperback version of my Tao Te Ching book is now available on Amazon and is currently on sale at cost price. The Tao Te Ching is a remarkable gift, and I wanted to be able to share it as such.

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Five years ago I set myself the challenge of creating my own version of this ancient text. I wanted to encapsulate the best of my favourite translations, retaining the text’s integrity and poetic flourish while making some of the more cryptic statements (of which there are a great many!) a little clearer and easier to understand.

I spent time reflecting on each verse and pondering the meaning of Lao Tzu’s words and then wrote a commentary on each one. I did this for myself more than anything, but decided to share it on this and my prior blogs. A lot of people have really enjoyed my take on the Tao, which has subtly evolved over the years as my own understanding has grown. Here is my introduction to the text.

I’ve been posting the content of this book in this blog for almost two years now, and will continue to do so until I have posted all 81 verses. If you’ve enjoyed it and want to have the complete work to hand, then this is for you! It’s been available to download on Kindle and Smashwords in ebook format for some time now, and the paperback edition looks beautiful I have to say. It’s a book that’s great for keeping at your bedside and dipping into for a little inspiration and insight.

Click here to view the book on Amazon US

Click here to view the book on Amazon UK

It should also be available in most other territories. The Smashwords ebook edition (which includes Kindle, ePub and many other formats) can be found here)

Hope you enjoy!

I’ve also just finished my second novel, which follows on from ELADRIA. It will be published in the Spring, along with a whole range of surprises. It’s a work I’m very proud of and a story that has been with me most my life. I can’t wait to share it with you. Hopefully now this major project is out the way, I will be able to get back into a more regular blogging routine!

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Myth, Storytelling & the Journey of a Writer

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The blog tour continues, and it’s been great fun. Today I’m sharing a guest blog I wrote for my publisher, Cosmic Egg Books, which is a brand new imprint of John Hunt publishing. I put quite a bit of thought into this one, relating my creative process and the power and importance of mythology and its relationship to storytelling and why, as a culture we desperately need stories with depth and substance. Hope you find it insightful.

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This Week Our Guest Blog is from Rory B Mackay, Author of Eladria, First Of an Epic Fantasy Series

I always knew I wanted to be a writer or storyteller of some kind. I can remember sitting in my room when I was only about six or seven and, with a pad of paper and felt tip pens in hand, I let my imagination soar freely as I conjured whole new worlds, with all kinds of characters and fantastical adventures. I had a rich and colourful inner world (the ‘real world’ simply paled in comparison!) and I knew I somehow wanted to be able to share it with others.  I started off with a story called “The Lost World”, although my dad informed me that there was already a book by that title. I’d been beaten to it — by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, no less! But that was only a minor setback for this young writer…

Click here to read more

It’s ELADRIA Launch Day! Book & free soundtrack now available :)

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“Everything that has ever happened in the entire history of the universe, every cause and effect and chain of events, has led you here — now.” — The Guardian, ‘Eladria’

I’m really pleased to announce that today is the official release date of my first published novel, Eladria. Although Amazon has dispatched preorders early, today is the day it’s finally available not just in paperback format, but in a very affordable ebook edition (on Kindle, iBooks, Nook, etc). If you enjoyed the first three chapters which I’ve posted this week, I’m certain you’ll be eager to find out what happens after that cliffhanger ending, and now you can!

The Story Behind the Book

This has been quite a journey. I began writing Eladria almost 4 years ago, in the Summer of 2009. It took a whole year to complete the first draft, then another 2 years to complete countless successive drafts. It wasn’t always an easy task writing this book, I came against some stumbling blocks and almost gave up on it more than once! But I’m glad I stuck it out, because it eventually paid off big style.

Eladria is the first instalment in a series called ‘The Alanar Ascendant’ which I’ve been working on for years…and years…and years! It’s a supremely epic tale and whilst Eladria can be read as a more or less self-contained book, it also leads into the next book in the series, The Key Of Alanar, which will hopefully be published next year. Maybe sooner, who knows…

The Writer’s Journey

inside my head the world is more interestingI’ve always been a storyteller. I’ve been writing since I was a teenager, and even before that I spent most my spare time drawing comic books and creating all kinds of stories. When I was a kid I used to walk my dog after school, a boxer dog named Cleo, and while I was walking I’d be imagining and playing out all kinds of adventures in my head, and there was always an overarching storyline, with distinct sets of characters. I loved retreating into my imagination, for I found the worlds in my head far more interesting than the comparatively drab ‘real world’. In time I learned to balance the two a little more, and appreciate all the richness and beauty of this world as well! Part of this ‘bridging’ of worlds was finding the means to share these stories with others, and to refine them and be clear about the purpose and meaning behind them.

I studied the craft of writing, learning how to properly structure stories, to develop characters and to weave narratives, with depth, meaning and themes. I realised that the true purpose of literature is not just to entertain, but to raise questions, explore ideas and help us make sense of ourselves and our journey through life. A good story shouldn’t just entertain you, it should inspire you and change you in some way. That sounds quite deep, and may be off-putting to some, but I hasten to add that Eladria is a fast-paced book that’s written in a highly accessible and readable style. It’s up to the reader what level of depth they wish to take from it. For some it’ll simply be an adventure, with a solid emotional core and some startling twists and turns (as far as I’m aware, no one has managed to predict the big twist at the end yet!).

Coming Next!

Over the next week I’m doing a BLOG TOUR! Lots of interviews. I’ve been given some really cool and thought-provoking questions and I’ve done my best to provide interesting answers. I’ve gone into some depth about the creative process and why and how I write. I’ll be posting and reblogging them here. It’s been a crazy busy time, but immense fun 🙂 I look forward to sharing this with you.

Free Soundtrack Album!

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Last but not least, I have just released my first music album! It’s the soundtrack to Eladria, an hour of original music based upon key sections from the book. It’s an epic, very atmospheric electronic/ambient/orchestral album, which I think captures the balance of the book very well. Incidentally, you don’t really need to be interested in or know anything about the book in order to enjoy the album. It’s a free gift to everyone, so check it out.

It’s now available as a FREE MP3 DOWNLOAD! Click here for more details and to download now. I’ve also created music videos featuring music from the soundtrack, which I will be posting soon (you’ll find them on the page I just linked to).

Everything you could ever want to know about the book is on my website — click here to visit the Eladria site!

I worked very hard designing the entire site myself and I think it’s one of the most comprehensive and full sites for a book I’ve ever seen. It has information about the world and its characters, the entire first three chapters, music videos, artwork, reviews, free short stories and an online media kit. Have a look and let me know what you think 🙂

Incidentally, here’s the book trailer. Someone asked me today who did it and how much it cost. I actually did it myself, but I guess that means I must have done a pretty good job 🙂

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Eladria is now available to purchase from a wide range of online stores, including Amazon.comAmazon.co.ukBarnes & NobleWaterstonesBook Depository (free international postage!), Apple iBooks and more. I’m also selling signed copies from my website — which include a free CD copy of the soundtrack and bookmark.

Thanks for reading and being part of the journey.

Is art important?

As an artist who hasn’t exactly made it ‘big’ (think considerably less than big), I was recently questioning my future and wondering whether I should be devoting my energy to something else. As the economy continues to flounder and as our esteemed leaders continue to make things worse, people are tightening their belts and luxuries such as the arts are obviously the first things to be abstained from.

Always one to question just about everything, I found myself wondering whether art really matters. Is it really important? Is it worth pursuing? Or is it just a self-indulgence that has no real value to our lives? (When considering this question, I was reflecting not merely on visual art, but also music, prose and poetry, sculpture, film-making, etc)

I instinctively feel that art has importance. But there are two kinds of art, I think. There’s art that’s created simply to make money and is tailored to a specific market or audience and which usually adheres to a specific formula while perhaps simultaneously attempting to pass itself off as something ‘different’. This might sound exceptionally snobbish, but to me, that isn’t art, it’s merely product. Most of the music industry is product and in our X-Factor era that’s a fact that’s hard to dispute. I feel the same about a great deal of the publishing and film industry. It’s driven by profit and the desire to sell; any claims of wanting to find genuine artistic innovation are usually just lip-service.

Product  generally has mass-market appeal and is largely consumed as entertainment. Nothing wrong with entertainment, I like to be entertained as much as the next guy (although maybe perhaps not QUITE so much), but entertainment rarely transcends its function. There are certainly lots of instances where it does, where films, music and books actually do take risks and wholly deserve to be called ‘art’, but in the vast marketplace it’s still the exception rather than the rule. I’m not decrying this, simply pointing out a fact. People need to make money and they do that by selling products to as many people as will buy it. It’s the way the world works.

With regard to the visual arts, it’s a little harder to find the distinction between art and product. It’s a grey area. Artists need to eat like everyone else, so they usually need to have some kind of target market in mind when they create. The quality and importance of the work is entirely subjective and that’s probably the way it should be.

I was at an exhibition just last week and it reinforced my feeling that in order for art to be taken seriously as ‘art’ it helps if it’s grim and bleak. In order to be a ‘cool’ artist the general criteria seems to be that your work has to be edgy, dark and a little depressing or — even better — repulsive! Now this could all just be in my head, and I don’t even take my own thoughts and opinions that seriously any more, so I urge you not to, either. But it’s possible that even some of the most fiercely independent and ‘out there’ artists are still just creating stuff that they consciously or unconsciously think fits a formula of ‘cool’ and ticks the right boxes.

Myself, I really don’t care what’s cool or not. Generally I’m drawn to create things that inspire people rather than nauseate and repulse them. I mean, life is difficult enough, why should art confound that by making us ever more miserable? But that said, when I view someone’s work, even if I don’t like it, I still usually respect it as a creative endeavour, as an expression of the artist and an artistic statement — whether or not I agree with that statement.

So why is art important then?

It’s not important simply for making statements. Anyone can make a statement and like anything that’s mind-generated, it ultimately doesn’t mean that much. A lot of the time it’s straight from the ego, and there’s already enough of the human ego stamped over this world of ours. Art in service of the ego may still be art, but it’s not, in my view, important art.

I believe art is important when it has a transcendent quality; when it points us beyond the surface-level miasma of humdrum human existence — what Buddhists refer to as samsara — and hints of the possibility of something greater, something beyond. I believe art, in its highest expression, serves to remind us who we are. Through images, stories, narratives and sound, it reflects back to us what we truly are. There’s a place for examining the surface-level world of maya, but we don’t really need art for that, we simply need to look around us or turn on the six o’clock news.

But it’s possible for art to take us deeper into ourselves, inviting us ask questions about ourselves and life itself. Who are we? Where did this consciousness come from and where is it going? What is the world? Where did it come from and where is it going? Is it everything we’ve always assumed it to be, or is it possible we’ve somehow misperceived the universe, ourselves and our relation to it?

I’ve come to learn that the answer is never in the answers. It’s in the questions.

At best, I believe, art can make us reflect upon these questions; questions that serve to bring us back to ourselves. Just about everything else in the world is pulling our attention outward and distracting us from OUR SELVES (which is actually the very thing we’re truly seeking in life — direct, conscious awareness of our own being).

Some time ago I was sent one of those email questionnaire things and one of the questions was “do you prefer art or technology?” and I was amazed at the number of people (practically everyone) that said technology. I probably shouldn’t have been, for nowadays technology is almost like a drug or religion for many people. There’s nothing wrong with that in itself, but what can technology do but distract us from ourselves? It’s never going to compel us to venture inward and perhaps, in time, stumble upon the in-built but long-dormant self-realisation mechanism — which is the only legitimate end to the cycle of suffering that drives us to seek out distractions in the first place.

I still feel compelled to create art, to write and create music because I feel something within me wants to be born into the world. I don’t think it’s in service of the ego or just to express emotions or viewpoints (although the latter point I suppose you could debate). If there’s any purpose at all behind what I do, it’s because there’s some element — and it’s not really on a conscious level — that would like to use this channel to spark something in others. A spark of inspiration, of remembering, of insight? Or just an opening that might prompt further questions? I’m not entirely sure. I don’t feel it’s entirely ‘me’ that’s controlling the process. It just is. It’s unfolding as it wants to.

I first had an inkling as to this when I began my first novel, a number of years ago. I thought – “yeah, my novel is going to change the world and make people happier and more enlightened.” I think my ego crept in, in the nicest and kindest possible way. Now, I have no such expectations. I don’t know if what I make will sell or interest anyone, much less whether it will enlighten them. That’s really not my business and I no longer have any investment in the outcome. I just do what I feel compelled to do, because I have to and because a little part of me would wither away if I didn’t. A rose doesn’t bloom in order to make people happy and get some kind of a reaction. It doesn’t hold itself back, either. It just does what it does, because…!

So that’s basically why I feel art is important. There are many artists (not necessarily mainstream ones or ones with great followings and publicity) whose work serves as kind of opening into something greater. It can serve as a catalyst that makes people stop, reflect and open themselves to new possibilities and new ways of seeing life. It can pierce the dream bubble and spark something quite wonderful, enabling the viewer/experiencer to blossom themselves. Maybe they’ll then bring that same essence into the world where it will have a similar effect on others, whether it’s in the form of art, behaviour, actions or simply BEING.

No motives though. It just happens — or it doesn’t. And it has an effect on others and the world — or it doesn’t. Art is alive and when it comes from a place beyond the ego and beyond consumer concerns and market pressures, it has the ability to change us and to change the world. Not change us in the sense of making us something other than we are, but simply removing the clouds of illusion that currently obstruct so many of us from being what we are. Art then can be a great wake-up call, which will resonate for those that are ready for it and go straight over the heads of those that aren’t.

For now, if I’m able, I’ll continue to respond to the creative impulses that compel me to create art in different forms, knowing that the impulse to create is there for a reason, that I’m not truly in control of it and that the reasons and outcome are way beyond my control. Some artists fall into the trap of ego, mistakenly believing it’s them that is responsible for their creations. But for me, it’s the humblest job in the world. I don’t own creativity, I can’t control it and I’m fully aware that it’s not really me that does anything (and frankly I don’t even consider myself particularly talented).

It just happens and I’m very cool with that, because it feels good. I’m really very clear on that point — and it’s a strangely liberating realisation!