Monday, September 14, 2009

A Religious Writing Experience

This morning I had one of those writing experiences that could best be described as religious. I woke up to the sound of crashing, rumbling thunder, loud enough that it shook the glass in my bedroom windows. I got out of bed, poured a cup of coffee and laced it with my favorite vanilla creamer. I microwaved a buttery croissant, grabbed my notebook and pen, and headed for the front porch. As I sat munching on the croissant, and sipping coffee, I took in the sensory experience of the morning.

The air smelled as if it had just been just been born. It was fresh, brand new, and a tinge of ozone tickled my nostrils after every strike. Light raindrops pattered on the leaves of a low bush, the minute impacts causing each of them to tremble almost as if they were shivering from the cold.

A fork of lightning shot across the sky, spreading out like gnarled fingers as it reached for the ground. A few seconds later the sky was ripped apart, as if two giant sheets of paper were rent in two. The thunder rolled and echoed across the valley, each echo becoming lower, sounding less like a crack, and more like a muted hollow tone. I sat in awe of the pure power of the display.

I took a bite of the hot croissant, a sip of coffee, and put pen to paper. The pen seemed to move as if it had a mind of its own and soon I had more pages in one sitting than I had written in days before.

You might think this sounds strange, as in most places thunderstorms aren't that unique, but here in northern california they are. If we are lucky we might have one thunderstorm a year. Most years we have none.

To someone who grew up in South Dakota where thunderstorms are the norm, they are one of the things that I miss the most. While I don't want to move back there, the memories that they evoke are almost as fresh as the air after the storm. They remind me of playing in the rain with my brother, the youthful exuberance of getting a little too close to a tornado, and sitting on the porch talking to my father, as the sky put on its fantastic show. It was a morning that I'm not soon going to forget.

You need to write every day, whether or not moments like this occur. When they do, and I'm sure they will, make sure you take advantage and enjoy them to the fullest. I know I did.

Have you ever had such an experience? Where was it? How did the writing that day compare to your normal writing?


  1. I absolutelly love thunderstorms. We get them far too often in Middle TN. Still, nothing better than sitting on the screen porch while the storm rages overhead. Okay, it's kind of nice to go walking barefoot afterwards. I love the smell after it rains.

    The only thing I can compare to your experience is the obsession that overcame me while working on one project. I wrote the rough draft in two weeks. Yes, two weeks. I lived, breathed, and ate my writing. Lost a few pounds during that time as well. It was an intense period of time where I fell into the bed exhausted each night and felt . . . good, great, fantastic. I was totally in tune with my writing. Let me tell you, that kind of writing doesn't happen often, but I still treasure those moments to this day.

    Great, and very sensory, post.


  2. I liken my writing to entertainment but of a serious nature. I'd love to hear the effects of a storm while writing. I'd feel very Stephen King if I did.

  3. Great imagery--pulled me right into the moment. The power of a thunderstorm is amazing, and I can see how it might jumpstart writing.

  4. I love thunderstorms but we just don't get them as big, wild or spectacular as the ones you get in some parts of the US. I'm sure I was a tornado chaser in a former life - we don't get many of those in these parts either, which is probably a good thing safety wise!

    I like to sit near my window and watch the storm clouds gathering - the air is just so magnetic just befor the storm breaks and I love the energy of it. It's an excellent catalyst to creativity.


  5. I just listened to a thunderstorm roll past over my head, but I had no lovely porch or buttery croissant to help me enjoy the moment. I did pick up a whiff of fresh ozone and rain, but mostly I was annoyed because I needed notes from my computer for a telephonic conference call. Your experience sounds far better than mine!

  6. This was a wonderful post. I FELT it.

    Yes, when I'm lucky enough to be home during the rare thunderstorms we experience, I,too am out on the back porch with my pen and paper. What is it about storms? I miss blizzards the most. I grew up in Minnesota but now live in Phoenix, AZ. Monsoon storms go around us due to the heat island effect. Sometimes I wish I could go "home" again - just to write!

  7. I believe there is a connection between the envirnment a person grows up in and there most meaningful memories.

    I had a hard time living in LA because it did not rain for about half a year and it felt like the seasons did not change: blue sky and sunny every day with plenty of smog. When it finally did rain I felt such relief. Not your typical relief, but a deep relief that is more connected with memories than anything else.

    So, thanks for the thunderstorm story, and I liked the fingers reaching down description. That was cool.


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