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Inspiration and the proofreader

23 February 2016 13:14

Inspiration has a way of batting its eyelids in the most unlikely of places.


A boot print in mud, for example. Once you get beyond the obvious (that someone somewhere is walking around with one muddy boot), that lone print could be the springboard for creating a chilling crime novel. Much as a snail's trail, simply slimy in daylight (and let's hope the little blighter isn't heading for my lettuces), is silvered under a full moon, provoking a potential feast of poetry without mention of a single vegetable. Or what about the mobile ringtone that causes a head to turn (chiefly mine) and is answered by a smartly dressed young man with, 'What d'you want? I'm in Tesco ...'


No, perhaps that is a step too far. But the point is, inspiration can leap up and bite us on the nose anywhere, anytime; sometimes when we're on the look out for it, sometimes when it's the farthest thing from our minds. Which is good to know. Not just for so-called creative types, but for everyone. Everybody needs a bit of a pick-me-up now and again. A new view. A new perspective. A fresh challenge. Otherwise, whatever life we live, whatever job we do, we're going to get stale.


You'd think proofreaders and copy editors might get all the inspiration needed from the vast quantities of reading matter chomped through in the course of a working day. And some of it may indeed be inspiring - although you do need to keep a bit of a lid on it as anything editorial requires manic concentration. It's not helpful if your mind takes itself off in flights of fancy. But much of it won't be. It may be useful and informative, interesting and well-written even, but that's not the same as being inspiring because that may not be its purpose.


So where might proofreaders find inspiration? And what particular aspect of their work might they need inspiration for?


As a fairly new business-builder, this particular editorial professional is bolstered by seeing people take an idea and explode it into life - with all the ups and downs that go with the journey. It gives me that exciting sense of, 'I can do this'.


And me, I love a good film. Two of my favourite inspirational features are - wait for it - Kinky Boots and The Full Monty. Not what you were expecting? Bear with me. I know neither are new (The Full Monty was released way back in 1997 - doesn't time fly?), and you might dispute their inspirational value. But the thing is, they both start with a failing - which instils an idea - which is carried through (eventually) to a successful, and really quite emotional conclusion. Well, I get emotional anyway.


In Kinky Boots, a failing shoe factory is saved when its owner comes up with a niche market idea and goes into business with a drag queen. The Full Monty gives us long-term unemployed Gaz, who is failing to find another job. Unless he comes up with some money, his ex-wife will stop him from seeing his son. So he famously gets together with five other unemployed men and they form a Chippendales-type dance act to raise some cash - for one night only.


What I love about these films (and Kinky Boots is based on a true story) is the failures coming good. When they're really up against it, these desperate, hapless and endearingly human people fight back. They fight back and they win. It's glorious.


Working on your own, as so many freelances do, can be a bit isolating. You can Tweet and Facebook till you've got cramp in your fingers but at times still feel weirdly separate from the outside world. Especially if work has gone a bit quiet and you're not sure where next to go with your marketing, because you can't see where your marketing is currently taking you. It's at moments like that that an injection of motivation and determination (if faintly frivolous) is not just an indulgence. I think it's pretty vital.


Where are you on the inspired scale right now - where 10 is fantastically inspired and 0 is not currently inspired by anything at all? Whatever your field of work, perhaps it's time to grab an inspirational film. Seriously, try watching my choices with fresh eyes. (Who can resist a script with the immortal line: 'Look to the heel, young man. The sex is in the heel.') And if you end up feeling a bit weepy ... what the heck?


One of my books for children, Topz Gospels - Matthew, has been shortlisted in the UK Christian Book Awards 2016. To cast your vote, please visit and give it a click!