I spent Labor Day weekend at my parents’ house out in the country. Saturday night we noticed the sky lighting up off in the distance, so I went outside to check it out. The storm was still quite a ways off – there was no rain, the wind was just starting to pick up, and the storm clouds were high up in the sky.

You couldn’t see the actual lightning, and the thunder was just a quiet rumbling off in the distance, but you could feel the storm in the air. I walked out into the yard, just soaking it in. There was a row of trees between me and the storm, and whenever the lightning flared you could see their silhouettes. It was kind of eerie.

I pulled out my cell phone, thinking I would record a video clip to share on social media (because that’s what we do nowadays, isn’t it?). But I quickly realized two things:

  1. A cell phone video could never truly capture the moment.
  2. I would be wasting an incredible experience if I tried to observe it all through the stupid little screen of my phone.

So I put my cell phone away — my friends would just have to miss out.

As the storm got closer, the sky above me would light up in brief, flickering flashes, almost like a strobe light. And every now and then you would get an especially bright flash, almost blinding even. I would say that it made the sky as bright as day, but that wouldn’t truly be an accurate description. Because for as bright as some of those flashes were, it was not the yellow light that you associate with the sun. No, this was very much a blue-white light that you would not see in the daytime.

I don’t know how long I stood there enjoying the light show, but it was quite a while. And it was amazing. I kind of understood what motivated people to become storm chasers. It also made me appreciate one of the joys of being a writer — because this was one of those moments that I would love to capture in my writing.

Of course, my words probably aren’t much better than my little cell phone video would have been, and it still remains a moment that truly needs to be experienced, but for me, it’s one of those moments that inspires me, that makes me want to continue improving my craft, until I can truly recreate moments like that, so that readers can almost feel like they were there.

When the first droplets of rain started to fall, I finally forced myself to go back inside — which was probably a good thing, because five minutes later it was pouring rain out. So I sat down at the kitchen table with my parents, and we all had a cup of tea while watching the storm rage outside. Then it was time to call it a night. But before I went to bed I knew I needed to get the experience written down, while the memories and the emotions were still fresh.

And that is my story of inspiration from the holiday weekend.


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