The wind blew the rain under the door, and the lights went out in the Dojo, plunging us into darkness.
Sounds like the opening to bad story, doesn’t it? Unfortunately, this happened to me on July 8, as a storm barreled through the 1.6 square mile village where I live. The storm, called a microburst by meteorologists, acted like a tornado without the rotating winds. It pushed down 75-foot trees as if they were corn stalks, and the trees dragged the utility lines with them. Power was out for most people for 2-3 days. Some residents’ properties suffered more damage than others (roofs crushed, cars smashed, fences demolished, sidewalks and driveways uplifted as 12-foot-wide tree roots escaped the ground). My family was more fortunate. We had a few branches fall, and our power came back on 26 hours later.
After I knew we were safe, I became very concerned about my writing. I’m participating in Teachers Write!, a virtual summer writing camp for educators founded by Kate Messner, Gae Polisner, Jennifer Jones Vincent, and Jo Knowles. Without electricity, I couldn’t access the daily prompts or the writing community. My 4-year-old laptop’s battery couldn’t hold a charge for more than one hour, so I couldn’t work on my novel. My husband and I had to run around looking for a generator (a bit late, I know). I just didn’t have enough time to write. I was frustrated to say the least. However, my frustration was short-lived as I decided to not let this storm and its after-effects stymie my writing.
The morning after the storm, I grabbed my notebook and pen. My family and I drove around the village to see the damage first-hand. I wrote down descriptions of what I saw, noises I heard, and smells that made their way to my nose. I reflected on the night before and what my environment looked, felt, and smelled like as the thunderstorm moved in. People’s reactions were raw. Neighbors helped neighbors. Everyone was walking because streets were blocked by felled trees and downed power lines.
I took it all in. All the sensory details I wrote down for future reference. This process kicked my powers of observation into high gear, and reminded me that I should always be on, always be looking for ways to write.
How do you look for ways to write? Have you had something like this happen, where your lack of online access curtailed your writing? How did you cope with the situation? I’d like to hear what you did.