One of the authors I find perpetually inspiring is Rudy Rucker, not just because I enjoy many of his books, particularly the later ones (Spaceland, Saucer Wisdom), but because he makes freely available over the net his complete working notes for each book. It's an inspiration regardless of whether or not you've never written a book or you've already done a couple. If you want an idea of what goes on inside an author's head - what he has in terms of raw material to create a novel - Rucker's your man. He's got a new book out called Zek and the Elixir, and the complete notes are available here. If you're thinking about writing your first novel, this is a good thing to read.
If you haven't read Rucker before, I highly recommend Saucer Wisdom, which was deliberately designed to ape the style of 'ufo confessionals'. Style-wise, Rucker is a beatnik. There's no other word I can find to describe it and I'm not even sure what I mean, so take my word for it.
I read my new short story out to MJ and Eryn (whom I rent a room to) this evening and they listened in rapt silence, which is a good thing. Still needs a little work, though. Plus, the idea is such a good one I'm completely convinced someone must have used it before in just the same way.