Most authors will have several sources of inspiration.
I'm not talking about story inspiration here - the 'where do you get your ideas from' that pops up in every Q&A session I've ever experienced. I'm talking about people.
For me, there are other authors. For example; the late, great Sir Terry Pratchett; the more recently discovered Mark Lawrence; my friend, Jody Klaire. They're not inspiring simply because they write great books which I love reading. It's the people behind the books who inspire me, particularly their struggles against what life throws at them. They amaze me with their determination, their positive approach to life and their sheer joy in the creation of stories. And they are only three of many others I could've named...
Then there are the Cloudies. If you're a regular reader of the Scribbles, you'll know I'm a member of the Word Cloud, an on-line writers' community. Over the last few years, I have made many friends there. I looked back over some of my earlier blogs recently; one was written after the agent I had at the time let me go and I received a particularly harsh rejection for a manuscript, while at the same time several other cloudies were posting the fabulous news that they'd signed contracts. The cloudies were 'a cloud under my feet' at that time, lifting me up and helping me through the self-doubt and depression that inevitably followed, encouraging and cheering me on. They've also since celebrated good news with me, and many of them are more special to me than I can probably ever explain. It makes the Cloud community a unique place.
Last night, I got to personally thank someone else who'd inspired me.
Probably three years ago, while working as a learning support assistant at school, I was privileged to sit in on a visit by the author Andrew Cope. Now for those who don't know, he's the author of the 'Spy Dog' series, a happiness expert and is studying for a PhD at the university in Loughborough.
During that visit, I got chatting to him about my writing, and told him about the novel I'd written which hadn't been picked up by publishers. He told me not to give up - and in line with the talk he gave the children that day, I set myself some achievable goals.
Things didn't work out quite the way I'd hoped or planned on the writing front after that; I had some short stories published (for charity), the first novel was rejected by publishers, I wrote another, lost my agent, got despondent...
But then I stopped work, focused on writing. As a result Granny Rainbow was published, several other short stories were published (still pretty much free as the anthologies haven't sold in huge numbers, but hey, my name's out there!) I revisited StarMark and rewrote large portions of it, sent it to a publisher, published More Granny Rainbow...and then signed a contract for StarMark!
Things have been looking pretty good - but what's that really got to do with Andy?
Well, last night was the Awards Evening for my children's school and Andy was the guest speaker. Mr Squidge, J and I were invited as T had won an award.
After almost clapping my hands off for everyone who won something (T rocked the audience with Rock Club - they play a mean cover of Muse - and walked away with a musicianship award and one for outstanding contribution to the drama performance *proud mum*), Andy spoke about happiness.
Happiness is a lie. It's not a goal you reach - you won't finally grasp it when you get good grades, meet the perfect partner, get that dream job, etc etc. Instead, it lies within each of us and it's got a lot to do with gratitude. As Mr Squidge put it later, it's about finding the silver lining, however big the cloud. Smile at people, say hello, choose to be happy. As an aside, did you know that a hug only counts (ie has benefits to the hugger and huggee) if it lasts for seven seconds? Though Andy advised us not to count one elephant, two elephants etc as that can make it seem weird...
Anyway, at the end of the evening, I caught up with Andy. I explained I'd seen him a few years ago; he remembered talking about the novel and asked where I was up to with it. When I told him that StarMark was due to be published and that it was partly due to what I'd heard him say way back when, because that's when I decided to give up work and focus on the writing, he seemed super-chuffed.
It's not often you get to thank your inspirations personally, but I hope that, in a few years time, some of the students who listened to Andy last night can go back to him and tell him what he inspired them to achieve too.