Month: May 2014
Inspiration is one of my favourite words. It comes from the Latin word ‘spiritus’, meaning breath, which is where we get the words respire, expire and aspire. But it also means ‘soul’ – breath and soul are from the same root in Latin, Hebrew, Slavic, Chinese – there’s a whole list – hence the words spirit, spiritual, spirited.
The things that inspired me recently were certainly soulful things: Maya Angelou for one. She died this week having inspired so many with her wisdom, her writing, her ability to empower others, her strength to rise above the events in her early life and keep rising. I wish I’d known her, but I think one of her rare gifts was that she made the whole world feel as if they did know her. Through her work, through her words, through the energy she gave out and through footage we’ve seen of her, we feel her and are one with her. Her love and understanding, her compassion and empathy for humanity and her love of life infuse into my soul and somehow, she is as familiar to me as an aunt.
I was also inspired by a school – I visited Cassiobury Junior School in Watford this week and the feeling there was very special. The school itself has great facilities and grounds, but the teachers seemed happy, the children were happy and thriving, and there seemed to be the right balance of a relaxed learning environment and good management and organisation. I really enjoyed talking about being an author as part of their careers week and hope some of the Y3 children I spoke to feel inspired to be authors too when they grow up.
Lastly, I love the window in Pickled Pepper books in Crouch End – thank you so much to Urmi and Rachel for doing this. I didn’t even know they’d done it until my sister walked past, saw the window and sent me this photo. Independent bookshops back and promote authors in a way that online retailers can’t, and some of the big shops would never do unless you’re one of the five bestselling names that have been around for years, so go to them and buy your books, because you may pay a pound or two more but they’ll disappear if you don’t, and a bookshop is not only one of the most inspiring places you can spend an afternoon, you also take home in a bag (usually with a free bookmark) something that can inspire you for the rest of your life.
It’s been busy, silly busy, but at last things are slowing down a bit. Well, they’re not because I’m filling the tiny spaces in time with other things, as per usual, but at least I’m managing to get some writing done again.
Writing is so much fun. It’s like I’m let loose with my subconscious and anything can happen. Of course, there are parameters: I’m writing for 7-12 year olds and I need to remember that and not write about Kierkegaard, and I have a nebulous idea of where the story is going and what’s going to happen and I know in the back of my mind that I need to blinking well get on with it because the publisher is waiting, but otherwise, it’s like going to an inflatable play zone with my mind. I’m constantly amused and entertained (and sometimes worried about myself), and I love that.
I’ve also been doing some reading and researching and making connections between me, other people, the things around me in the world and the world of ideas and imagination that lie beyond, and it’s so fascinating, I’m having trouble sleeping. My brain is fizzing and foraging and going but what about THIS? And THAT? HAH! and my conscious mind is being an old-fashioned nanny and saying, ‘that’s quite enough now brain, settle down or I won’t take you for a stroll in your perambulator this eventide.’
Plus the sun is shining, which makes all the difference because it makes you feel like dancing with your daughter to Beyoncé (done) and making birthday cakes (going to do) because she’s turning 18 today and that’s just the maddest thing you’ve ever heard. But I must get back to writing or that book will never leave the inflatable play zone.