I’ve always thought storm clouds to be beautiful.
Often when I’m sad I’ll reach for a work that resides in the middle of a storm. Sometimes you do it because you want to lean in. Let the blueness envelope you. Mostly though, for me, it’s because the vision of a troubling, brewing storm-front uplifts me. Makes me feel alive.
Bring me your stormy nights
I’ve read so many gothic works that start with a dark and stormy night, and they thrill me.
I don’t pull back from the gloom and the glowering. I hunt it down. It taunts me like the ghost in a haunted tale.
The stories that scare me, bone deep terrify me, are the ones that start on a sunny day. When everything is white and bright and perfect. The ones with the innocent puppy.
These tales always look ready to go so very wrong.
Comfort in the darkness
I see dark clouds boiling, and I think soon there’ll be rain, hungering for the ground. Soon there’ll be thunder, drowning out my thoughts. Soon, very soon, there’ll be lightning, blinding me and tearing down the sky.
Fiction writers are often told to play with metaphor. Don’t reach for the trope that says black is bad, and white is good. Mix it up. Play with it, mess with that reader’s expectation.
But what if we don’t need you to. I mean, do it. Yes.
‘As terrifying as a clean, white, and empty hospital bed.’me
‘As calm as the darkest, bluest ocean waves, rolling by at night’.also me
But never forget, as readers, we’ve read those tired clichés too. And we can turn them against you.
Your dark and stormy night? It’s probably me, summoning the biggest storm. And that tapping, gentle rapping? It’s me, a woman you’d do well not to ignore. Your freaky, creaky doors? Someone snuck in the night before to check; grit and grime in hand. It was probably me. A silent door terrifies me so.
The comfort of the broken, rusty hinge? Yes. That’s for me. Perhaps not just a door. But a portal, all ominous and dire. The old and battered wood, its handle a shade of blue so black it could steal your heart away. Mine, pretty author. Not yours. Your many lines of devilish skies belong to me, not you. Your bleak and ichorous words are my playthings.
Come, watch. See how they bring me joy.
Yes, my friends, play with us. Mess with us.
But do be prepared. Because we’ve probably seen you coming.
Ah, but take heart. Lest we do the same for you.