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.