Peace of Mind is a Piece of Cake
by Michael Mallows and Joseph Sinclair
by Simona Nielsen
Michael and Joseph, how long have you been writing non-fiction?
MM: Many years, one way and another. I used to write lyrics (some of which are on my site)
What has been the biggest challenge in co-authoring this book?
MM: Probably the same thing that made our collaboration work so well, namely our different styles of working. I'm more a process oriented, chaotic ideas generator, Joe is more a task oriented, focused finisher completer.
JS: It was the idea of collaborating. The first time I had done so after several books written alone. I take issue to some extent with Michael. I am process-oriented - albeit to a lesser extent than Michael. I use process to achieve an outcome; Michael's outcome is often improving the process itself.
What inspired you to write this book?
MM: Recognising that such a book would have a place, believing it would serve a purpose and hoping it would meet a need.
JS: It was the excitement of working in partnership with someone else, and being able to bounce my own ideas off someone I admired and respected. It was to be the first of a series of books. Alas that did not come to fruition, but I would still enjoy a similar collaboration.
What type of writing schedule do you have?
MM: As and when - but it is rare that a day would go by without me writing something, from a short poem to a long article.
JS: I have always believed that part of every day must be devoted to writing or researching. When I am fully engaged in a specific project I allocate a definite amount of time, or number of words, that has to be completed. This must be what Michael refers to as my task-orientation.
Tell us about researching your books.
MM: My ideas come from something I've heard, seen, read or experienced. I then read and discuss as much as possible the original and related concepts, theories and 'case studies'. I also create exercises based around theories to use on training sessions so that my writing is based on real life experiences and feedback. Ideally, I will engage in 'both and', rather than 'either or' discussions with interested parties.
JS: To a large extent the notes and notebooks I have produced over the years have provided the kick-start I needed for each new project. Other than that I have traveled world-wide to use libraries and museums to research particular subjects for several of my books. Over the past few years, however, the internet has almost entirely replaced this travelling.
What makes you an 'expert' in your chosen field?
MM: Over 25 years of personal and professional experience as a therapist, trainer, healer, public speaker, management consultant and trainer, workshop creator, leader and facilitator, and the fact that I am still on a journey or personal discovery so I know little I know!
JS: I am not an "expert" in any particular area. I have studied widely, however, and my expertise derives as much from my general studies rather than any specific discipline.
How long does it take you to write a book?
MM: Without Joe: Forever!
JS: How long is a piece of string? My short work on self-publishing was completed in less than one month. My Arteries of War took slightly over one year, but required massive research at the Pentagon Library in Washington DC and several museums in the UK and the USA. Other books fall between those limits. Peace of Mind, as I recall, took about six months.
What is the best and worst part of writing non-fiction?
MM: The combination of curiosity and discovery, of art and craft, of questions posed then finding some answers and maybe a few insights along the way. I like the process of thinking about what I want to say, how I will try to influence the reader - and toward what end (a feeling, a thought, a shift of perspective, a change of heart). I also like rewriting, much too much in fact - which is the only real 'worst'!
JS: There are no worst parts. I really enjoy the research and tend to overdo it. My first major work arose from my having over-researched a book I was writing for the World Bank, and enough material was left over to produce another book.
Tell us a little about your personal lives.
MM: I am very self-indulgent. I like meeting with friends and new people, eating out, movies, theatre, laughter, shoulders to cry on, listening to music, writing, reading, making love, cooking.
JS: There's nothing much to tell. I tend to work too much, too long, because it is something I enjoy so greatly. The result is that I have very little social life - although I am now making strenuous efforts to remedy this. I run a pattern: every so often I recognise that I have to give up some of my writing or publishing activities, because I am getting too much negative stress. Within a few weeks some other activity has taken their place.
Do you do a lot of travelling when researching a book?
MM: Not directly, but my personal development workshops, my talks and training seminars take me all over the UK, and occasionally abroad, so, in effect, I am always researching a new idea or a fresh possibility of something to write.
JS: As I said earlier, I used to travel widely for research, but the internet has rendered that largely unnecessary these days.
Has the Internet helped in your research?
MM: Absolutely! The Internet in the most extraordinary and wonderful tool and absolutely amazing for research.
What types of organizations and groups do you belong to?
MM: I am an Associate Advisor with The Work Foundation, a member of The Society for Effective and Affective Learning and I think I'm still a member of the Association of NeuroLinguistic Programming. I also belong to the Performing Rights Society (I'm a lyricist) and some other song writing organisations.
JS: The Society of Authors is the abiding organisation. I have been a member variously of the Institute of Transactional Analysis, the Association of Humanistic Psychology, the Association of Neuro Linguistic Programming, and the International Co-Counselling Community.
What is the most helpful tip anyone ever gave you in writing this type of book?
MM: "Just get on with it!"
JS: Can't think of one.
Where can readers contact you?
MM: Contact details - and some of my lyrics - are on my web site www.mallows.co.uk
JS: My websites are a good place to start. www.conts.com describes my publishing and self-publishing services; www.nurturingpotential.net is the site of the online and paper magazine I currently publish; www.pinoman.co.uk is my personal website and incorporates a lot of my unpublished writings. All three sites have contact addresses.
Do you do all the research yourself?
MM: Apart from the life I've led, Joe did most of it for Peace of Mind.
Tell us about the emotional side of your writing?
MM: I love it! I love the creative process; the words form in my head to explore and express an idea, a thought or a fantasy. I love rewriting; shaping and sculpting the sentences, paragraphs, chapters, lines, verses, songs, articles, poems, letters.
I could read and write when I was three and wrote my first poem when I was nine. I still consider the physical (f)act of writing to be a magical process; with a few strokes of a pen or taps on a keyboard, you, dear reader, can know what was in my mind. And in years to come, future generations can look into my mind just as we can peek into the hearts and minds of writers who lived centuries ago.
JS: My writng life, and my emotional attachment to my writing are full described in the Literary Activities section of my personal website www.pinoman.co.uk.
Are there cases or situations that have made you sad or depressed in writing this book?
MM: I can feel sad about the need for books such as this, but life is the way it is, and peace of mind a rare thing, I think. As for depression, not really, although some of the arguments that we had did not bring out the best in me!
JS: Any sadness derives from the failure to follow it up with the projected further books in the series. But had we done so, then much of my other work would not have been achieved.
Has writing this book helped you like some kind of therapy?
MM: I learnt a lot about myself, about my limitations and disinclinations in the face of certain kinds of challenge. Not sure if it was therapeutic, but it has certainly affected some of the choices I have made since.
JS: Every thing I have written has served to increase my self-understanding and acted to some extent as a catalyst for my next work.
Does your work require a sense of humour?
MM: Well, my life does, and I don't really separate who I am from what I do, so I guess the answer is yes. Joe and I are able to trigger each other into giggles and laughter much of the time anyway.
JS: Life itself requires a sense of humour. And writing is a part of life.
Leave us with some factual wisdom on writing.
MM: Write with your heart, rewrite with your head. Have the reader in mind when you rewrite. If you only write for yourself, presumably, you won't be much concerned about getting into print! I don't mean that you need to patronise or placate readers, only that it is important to remember that communication is both transmission and reception.
It would not make sense to write at an academic level if you are writing for pre-teens. You may not care much about spelling, grammar or style but your potential readers might think you don't care what they think, feel or want from reading your work.
JS: I disagree with Michael on this one. Write with yourself only in mind. If you have someone else in mind there is a tendency to be insincere. Never worry about offending others, providing you are true to yourself.
Stress is a factor we all know about more or less. In my own life stress is very common as I put all my strength into a new project that I can work 70 hours a week on. While I’m in it I can’t feel the world around me and the outcome is headaches, mood swings and forgetting about the people I live with.
The authors Michael Mallows and Joseph Sinclair have written the perfect easy-to-read book about how to manage your stress and live the life you really want to live. I especially love the quote where the book begins: ‘Stress is the price your body pays when life is not the way you’d like it to be’ and the authors reply to this quite perfectly: ‘And it’s a high price indeed’.
The book ‘Peace of Mind is a Piece of Cake’ is filled with tips and strategies on stress management, how to use your stress positively, relaxation techniques, about stress in the workplace and much more. This is book everybody should own and a book everybody is able to understand. Furthermore, the book also contains self-help and exercises, which I think is very important in the process of healing.
Reviewed by Simona Nielsen