That's included going to events by writers. It's not all been about being in the presence of my inspirers, but has more to do with the pleasure I get from hearing stories read and hearing about the writing process.
I was trying to work out how many events I'd been to over the years and just can't. Not including children's events (like last weekend at Lennoxlove, for example) I've been to well over a hundred and probaly fewer than 200 (I'll try and list them one day).
I'm including multiple visits there and one of the authors I've seen a fair few times is Ian Rankin. I've seen him at events in England, Wales and Scotland.
Yesterday I went to see him in a slightly different capacity.
It was a book signing. There was no reading, bot Q&A and there was no panel of writers discussing books.
Saints Of The Shadow Bible was the lure, the new and rather fine looking Rebus.
Because I've never been to a signing, and I've never been to a signing simply because I wasn't sure of the point of them (other than to harvest and autograph) I had no idea of what to expect.
I arrived in Edinburgh early and dragged my feet, the plan being that I'd amble into Waterstones, Princes St, have a coffee and write in the cafe and then get to the head of the queue about 10 minutes before kick-off.
What a fool.
By the time I got there, and that was over an hour early, there was already aline of some 40 people waiting patiently.
I started to queue, but realised I'd still need the coffee I'd planned for and so popped upstairs. By the time I came back, I'd lost another 20 places at least.
So what was it like?
I had a great time.
In the line I was in a sandwich of lovely people who put up with my chatting and probing. They had their own tales about books in general, about Rebus and about other encounters with Ian Rankin. It was a very pleasant way to spend a morning.
The line started to move bang on time, just after the flashing of countless camera lights.
We shuffled on slowly and happily until our turn came.
What impressed me was the way Ian Rankin had with those who'd waited.
He had a little time for each to chat a little about whatever they might have had to discuss.
Just before me were 2 Spanish men, clutching their copies of Spanish Rebus titles. One of them was an old guy, the father most likely, and it was clear from their manner that they were big fans. Not Only did Mr Rankin have plenty to say, he also posed patiently for the photos. I should congratulatw Waterstones here, as they had a member of staff allocated for just that purpose, and the 2 guys went off as very happy guys.
So did I. Ian had a few words of encouragement for me and reminded me that his own career hadn't seen him as an overnight success and that he had to keep working at it long and hard. For me, that's inspiration. I also asked him to oblige me by signing the blurb on my Smoke postcard, and he did so with great courtesy.
I had that feel of joy when I got to shake his hand, like the joy I felt when grabbing Simenon's leg as a teenager.
The line behind me was still snaking around the store as I headed for the exit. The man clearly has a very loyal following and I have no doubt that he deserves it.
Thanks to him for his way of being and also to Waterstones for hosting the event rather well.