2014 ended in an incredibly appropriate way for me…with a storm chase. It was only a few kilometres from home but it still counts. I saw the cumulus towers going up on the horizon, checked the weather radar and warnings and raced off to get a good position to watch it coming.
It wasn’t a very big storm, it didn’t get severe-warned and it fizzled pretty quickly.
But it still looked impressive and the chase took me back to the endless days driving across the endless plains searching for supercells in the American Midwest.
Because that’s what started all this for me. I found my passion for writing and photography and creativity on the plains, looking for storms. The swirling vortexes sucked me in, blew apart my old life and set me on a new path–into a dark forest, lit by lightning.
It occurred to me quite suddenly that, if I want to be a professional writer, I have to take inspiration a lot more seriously. If one of my goals is to regularly finish and publish stories, then inspiration is a resource I simply cannot waste. Any moment of brilliant thought has to be captured before it vanishes.
Taking that thought further, it makes writing a much more hardcore profession than I first thought. It’s 24/7! If I’m eating dinner and inspiration strikes, I have to write it down and deal with eating a clammy, vomit-like risotto later. If I have an idea in the middle of the night, I have to get up and write it down. I can’t just wriggle back to my optimal snuggle position and go back to sleep. If I’m in the shower, I have to get out and write that thought down and worry about things like towels and spilt shampoo afterwards. How many other jobs (aside from parenting) demand that level of dedication?
But, if I wait or put off getting ideas down in writing, the moment ends and the inspiration slips away. And that could be the difference between a good novel and a bad novel. Or even a good novel and yet another addition to the collection of unfinished documents on my hard drive.
It’s kind of like photographing lightning. You practice your camera skills, chase down a storm, find the right place and get all set up. Then you sit there and (if you don’t have a fancy lightning trigger – which I don’t) take photo after photo of clouds and clouds and more clouds and clouds until you think it’s never going to happen. But if you stop and let the moment go, you’ll never have the amazing shot that only comes when circumstances align and you click the shutter at precisely the right instant.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go get dressed and mop up all the water.