A week later, as I sit down to finish it, I have a very personal reason to talk about inspiration (which also explains why I have been, and will be for a week or so) absent from here. Last Monday, my mum lost her lengthy battle with cancer. She introduced me to the word Beatnik when I was about five, and it was her love of books, the wonderful tales of her travels across Europe in a Morris Minor van, and the way each new edition of Virginia Woolf’s diaries and Colette’s letters was a household event that set me on the insatiable writing path (those things and the old school desk my parents got me for my third birthday at which I sat scribbling in the middle of the night from my earliest memories). The day after she die it was my privilege to be able to perform a set of performance poetry in her memory at the night Full Fat at The Book Club in Shoreditch. This post is also in memory of her inspirational qualities.
- Enthusiasm – it’s infectious, almost epidemiologically catching. Do you love literature? Really love it? Let it show!
- Encouragement – those who inspire us are always looking for ways they can support others. They often have an uncanny knack of seeing beyond the one who shouts loudest in a group, seeing what it is that burns unseen, even unnoticed, in the quiet kid at the back of the class, making a line straight for them and helping it catch fire. See a glimmer of interest in someone? Don’t say “that’s nice?” or even walk on by. Stop and figure out what you can do to help it burn brighter.
- Enjoyment – it seems obvious but it’s something we forget so often. One of the main reasons we do things we see others doing is that we see just how much fun they’re having. There will be times when the last thing you feel like doing is tapping anything on the keyboard. I know that all too well, and I know how important it is to vent sometimes. But some writers seem to make a virtue out of grumbling at every turn. There are times we need to keep those conversations among friends because, after all, if we didn’t at a deep underlying level love what we do, we wouldn’t do it.
- Energy – I’m not talking about tweeting 100 times an hour or generally being one of those always bright and breezy smiling people who thinks the world is always one long cocktail. It’s more a question of giving what time you have. People who inspire us are just as susceptible to depression and the vicissitudes of life as the rest of us – it’s what they do with the time they have that matters.
- Engagement – this is pretty much where I started with this blog and it’s still the most important thing. Speak to people, and not just to tell them what you’ve done now. Take an interest in what they do, listen, respond to their comments.