Tuesday, May 24, 2011

When Lightning Strikes

I'm in still in Deadline Mode, which means little sleep and too much coffee. Last night,I worked until 2 A.M. It was dark outside, but I finally saw a wedge of brightness in the manuscript. All I needed was one more day. A day without a household calamity or an earache.
The Yorkies and I went to bed, only to be awakened by whistling wind, slashing rain, and the crack of lightning. It was 4 A.M. The television still worked, and the storm map on Channel 5 showed a block of red over the mid-state.  Pushing in behind it was a bigger block of red.
Another boom shook the house, and our hard-wired smoke alarm began shrieking, along with the carbon monoxide detectors (including the one that was already chirping). My poor, little Yorkie, Mister, yelped and dove under the covers.
Mind you, our house was struck last month while I was on book tour, and lightning had scorched various household objects, including our HVAC system.
His Lordship managed to turn off the shrieking.
"I've solved the problem--again," His Lordship said in a snippy tone.
A while later, lightning set off another ear-piercing howl. His Lordshit (yes, I'm mad at him, but for another reason) fixed it again, but the old beep, the one I mentioned in a previous post, was joined by a louder, nerve-jangling second beep-beep. Then it sounded like a thousand crickets on steroids.
Bandwidth put on his Noise Police hat and discovered that yet another carbon monoxide detector had gotten deep-fried.
And so much more, too. I haven't begun to assess the electrical damage (but I just heard Bandwidth  say, "Oh,  no, not that, too!)
The noise pollution continued until noon.

When events like this happen, I go tharn like the rabbits in the novel Watership Down. My brain quivers like a Jim Morrison song, with leaping toads. Because I'm Southern, catfish are jumping in there, too.

A trusty knight (my electrician) smashed the dragon-like detectors on my behalf (actually, he repaired them). But all is not well in electrical land.
Now I'm listening to a soothing Puccini aria, but my heart is leaping against my ribs, waiting for another blast of high-pitched noise. Because outside, it's still lightning.
Like my mother always says, "What man breaks, man can fix."
She didn't have a comment about what happens when Mother Nature attacks.
If you are still reading, you might wonder why I wrote this discursive post.  Yeah, I'm a whiner. I break just like a little, pig-tailed girl. And I am still on Deadline (missed it). I should be looking for punctuation errors and murdered sentences, but I do have a small point.
I must move beyond the fear-of-future-noise and honor my deadline.
Writing is tough.
True, many things are tough. But if you work with words--in books or blogs--you probably know how noise affects you. (You might tolerate beeps but loathe something else.)
But this is a blog about writing, so I will share what best-selling author Nora Roberts said last year at RWA: 

"Writing is hard," she said. "It's supposed to be hard. The fact that it's hard is what makes it special, makes it worthwhile to keep going. Embrace the hard work."

When a writer experiences a visceral emotion, it's not always a bad thing. It's an opportunity to jot down the physical sensations. It's easy to forget them when the danger has vanished, easy to forget your quivering bottom lip, or the sticky-sheen of your clammy palms, or the bees zooming out the top of your head.

Writers use it.
My mother thinks this attitude is a trifle cool, which in Mama-speak translates to icy/ridiculous.
But she is a normal person, not a writer, and I respect her opinion.

So if you deal with words, if you are sound-sensitive, if you fear the household heebie jeebies, here's an idea.
The next time lightning strikes,
  and you want to dive under the covers with a Yorkie,
remember Nora's words and "ride the hard."
Because it's not all about the writing, is it? It's not about noise or fear of noise or interruptions and missed deadlines.
It's about coping.
It's about pulling yourself together as opposed to falling apart.
It's about inner grace. 
I must rise above an insignificant beep-beep. I must cast aside the notebook and feel a true visceral emotion for someone other than myself and the nervous Yorkie. And count blessings.
Lightning can be an illuminating streak in the dark, fodder for poets. It can also start fires and take lives.
Let's be really real, Piper. A beep is nothing.
Compassion for others, true compassion, breeds strength--because it is the luminous core of humanity.

all photos courtesy of Dreamstime except the rainbow, which is mine.