It started last Saturday when I did an Open Day at the University of Winchester. I had a room full of aspiring students, eager to study Creative Writing. I watched their faces as I spoke, their smiles got wider and wider. They were buzzing by the end. Some of their parents, however, looked a little glum as they came in. They are usually the ones who cannot see the point of CW degree. I watched though as they also started to smile, their shoulders dropped and they began to relax as they realised what their darling child might be able to do with their degree. Mission achieved.
Then during the week, I was listening to my third-year students talking about their creative pieces in my metafiction module. They literally blew my mind as they came up with all these incredible projects. They really did think 'outside the box'. I watched their faces as well at the end of the session as I spoke to them enmasse about their projects, they were glowing. It is so satisfying to be able to facilitate this sort of creativity.
On Thursday I met up with the wonderful Imogen Cooper and many of the other editors from the Golden Egg Academy. We spent a joyous few hours discussing writing, editing, the industry and books we love. I left totally inspired and reminded once again how joyous it is to work with so many amazing and knowledgeable people. I always learn so much just by listening and talking to them. Earlier in the week, I had spoken to one of my Eggs that I am mentoring and I am seeing another one later today for an editorial surgery. Talking about their work and sharing ideas is so satisfying. Seeing that light bulb moment as they suddenly have an idea of what they might be able to do next or they really get what you are saying. It is a moment that always sends a thrill down my spine.
All this has an impact on my own creativity and writing. I know I am lucky in the jobs I do, I am surrounded by creative and inspirational people. As writers we need this and I am aware that not everyone is as fortunate as me. This is where it is important for writers to become part of communities. I know at The Golden Egg Academy we have a fantastic writers' community that is incredibly supportive. Another great source of support and community is the Society of Children's Book Writers & Illustrators. It is in fact their conference this weekend. Watch on Facebook and on Twitter - follow #scbwicon17 to find out what they are up to. Critique groups are fabulous for support too - I have been part of a SCBWI one for many years. Having people around you - either virtually or IRL - that you can talk about your writing, books you are reading and your moments of inspiration is priceless.
Having support like this feeds a writer's creativity. It enables them to be inspried and allows them to ride through the rough times because everyone closes rank around anyone who is having a tough time, giving virtual or real hugs. It's someone for them to lean on while filling them with words of encouragement. There was some of that this week too. A few friends were having hard times for various reasons, up against tough deadlines or getting difficult rejections. I tried to be there for them because I knew that is exactly what they would have done for me and because I wanted to protect them and make sure they were ok. And because this is what we do. We enable, we inspire and we care.
The song seemed a little obvious this time. Paul McCartney & Ringo Starr singing 'With a little help from my friends':