I am starting to think about the next book I might write. Inspiration came to me one dark winter afternoon as I switched off my computer from writing a third draft of my current project. I had music playing and leant back in my seat to listen to the same song over and over. It set up such a strong mental image in my head and touched my heart – I could almost feel the story taking shape in my mind as I listened to those four minutes, 55 seconds. But part of me feels embarrassed. How could a Christmas pop chart single from a woman who nearly won a TV talent competition be the source of a book? Could I ever admit it to anyone without blushing? Okay, it was Susan Boyle and her cover of the Rolling Stones’ Wild Horses. There, it’s out in the open.
Susan’s story has touched many hearts and been the source of hot debate over potential exploitation. People have crowded round computers to watch her on You Tube and the States has embraced this Scottish woman as the modern poster girl for the American Dream. Why has she had such an impact?
For me, it’s the story of achievement against staggering odds. Bullied at school, with learning difficulties and living in an isolated community, she walked on a stage to audible sniggers from the audience. Then she started to sing. Despite all the people telling her ‘no’ she went ahead and had a go at ‘yes’. I think everyone can relate to the feelings of not being good enough, of insecurity and self-doubt and we all hope we could be as brave as Susan and have a happy end to our own story. (I’m quite sure there are dark clouds in Susan’s life, too, and hope that she has the support network she needs.) Her story is a fairytale, and we all love a fairytale.
It still amazes me how different arts and crafts cross-pollinate. A song inspires an idea for a book. When I need to rest from writing, I pick up my knitting. Knitting makes me think of the next dress I could sew. If I’m cooking, I want music playing to sing along to. All of these different activities crucially feed each other. It goes further. When I’m out running, I’ll spot a hole in my plot. Cleaning my teeth remains one of my best thinking times of the day. And the violent cursing and pedalling of inner city cycling allows me to work off the frustrations that otherwise would get in the way of anything being achieved at all.
Inspiration comes in all shapes and sizes. It’s not necessarily a thunderbolt or a lightbulb. And, let’s be honest, inspiration is the easy bit. It’s what you do with it that matters. A large dollop of stubborn determination, a slice of good old-fashioned craft, a ... oh god, can I make this stretch any further! You know what I mean. It’s about getting the damn thing written. But thank goodness for inspiration corner, full of surprises and unexpected ideas.
There’s one last thing that most of my activities, including writing, have in common. They take a heck of a lot of patience. Fortunately, I have lots of ripe swear words I can use when no one’s around to listen. Inspiration, patience and swearing. They sound like the ingredients for a book!
What have been your most unusual moments of inspiration? Can anyone beat SuBo?
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