Internal and External Storms


Wind sweeps raindrops across my windows — the prelude to El Nino, as we call it in Southern California, (Spanish for baby boy): a severe weather phenomena that occurs every ten years — the result of unseasonably warm ocean water miles off the west coast of the U.S.

Well, let it rain, I say.

Once green hillsides are as dry as straw, the air filled with pollutants and electric expectations that make it hard to breathe. Cutting water consumption can only do so much.

The monster storm will not fix our drought. It will leave behind mudslides, houses crumbling off hillsides, fallen trees, flooded streets. Weeks and weeks of cleanup. But despite such biblical predictions, we need the rain. Rain makes everything better in Southern California, even if it destroys the landscape first.  


So, why is this gigantic weather pattern called El Nino? Minutes of research and the answer is: El Nino (child, or baby boy) refers to the infant Jesus Christ and is used because the current usually begins during the Christmas season.

Interesting and creative.

Weather affects the creative mind, don’t you think?

I sometimes see it in my writing — the altered dispositions, the range of emotions — my own feelings projected upon characters as moods are brightened or darkened, lives lived under clouds, relationships turned stormy.

When the mercury rises, the character’s blood can boil internally or externally. Sun melts hearts; rain fills the fictional world with tears. All sorts of things happen while fingertips fly across the keyboard with El Nino on the horizon, the sky filled with slow-dancing clouds.

Sometimes I wonder if those beloved pieces of European literature were written during long winters and ravaging storms, perfect times for introspection. Are seasons to be credited with such masterpieces? Why not?


Cold, literal or figurative, makes for great art via our internal barometer, producing striking works that stand outside the mapped territory of … normal. Because normal, while safe,  has no place in literature, now, does it?

~ So, tell me your thoughts, dear blogging friend. On this stormy subject or anything else.  

Images courtesy:,,


20 responses to “Internal and External Storms

  1. I definitely have bursts of inspiration during storms, winter snow, or at the site of spring flowers. Among other things :)

  2. We have 60+ MPH winds blowing up here. The rain looks like a monsoon, and our quiet bay almost looks like the California surf. With the whitecaps I want to yell, “Cowabung… Surf’s UP!!”

    Sadly, my inspiration mostly washed away in the storm. Like California we NEED the rain and snow, so let it come! Our excitement is trees falling on roads blocking them off and broken limbs stabbing and mutilating car windows. Quite a few areas have lost power. Our lights have flicked several times, but we still have power. Stay warm, dry, and SAFE!!

    • Sounds like surfers heaven up there, Gwynn. Glad you still have power. Careful with the winds and trees falling. For us, the big excitement is the expectation and the weather people talking about El Nino almost every day, varying between scary and exciting. Thank you for reading. You too, stay safe.

  3. What an intriguing topic, Silvia. I daresay most of us are definitely attuned to, and affected by, the weather outside our perches. It can’t help but pour forth through our words and images. It certainly blew through in yours !

  4. Hi Silvia – I know you’re really needing that rain. I certainly feel chirpier when it’s sunny and not gloomy grey! However storms can draw one to them and then not much gets done as we watch …

    I wrote about the Cookery Author Elizabeth David, who wrote her first book on Mediterranean Food, when she was stuck in a terrible hotel in a blizzard .. the post is under cookery A-Z E in 2013. She was desperate for fresh, tasty food … and we bless her to this day for writing the book.

    I guess stories could easily come, as often as being flushed away by the storms – cheers Hilary

    • See … a blizzard responsible for a great cookery book. Indeed, stories (or ideas) can easily come and go, but I’ve found the good ones will stick around until written down. Thank you, Hilary.

  5. I couldn’t agree more. Weather affects everything, including writing. I love both sunny days and misty rainfalls, both of which (oddly) fill me with optimism and make me feel alive. I am sorry for the damage it may cause but I also give thanks for the rain coming your way. May it fill your pages with saturate emotion.


  6. I live in MN. Weather is a character all on its own. Yes, it effects mood, relationships, decisions, actions. We are enjoying a much warmer November. Rainy days go on and on, but it’s better than ice and snow! Although, by Thanksgiving, we’re ready for a white dusting to put us in the mood for Christmas.

    • You get real weather up there, and that’s nice, I’m sure, until about February or so. :) I remember loving winter and snow as a child during the month of December, then yearning for spring. Thank you, Mary.

  7. Great point, Silvia… “I wonder if those beloved pieces of European literature were written during long winters and ravaging storms”, not just perfect times for introspection but also unavoidable examples of how small we are, how at the mercy of nature, how puny our efforts, how frivolous our concerns. And were those beloved European classics a way of transcending that? Or of paying homage to it—a sort of bending the knee, of exposing the jugular? Love this train of thought!
    Guilie @ Quiet Laughter

    • Indeed, a reminder of how small we are in the overall picture, and perhaps a way to bring out the emotional selves, hence the need to put it all on paper. We’re walking talking balls of emotions, at the mercy of nature despite a much grander view of ourselves. Good to be reminded of that once in a while. Thank you, Guilie. Always fun debating the subject.

  8. That wind was pretty fierce, wasn’t it? Wind always makes me a bit uneasy. Not nice cooling breezes. But those gusting winds… Yikes.

  9. Ditto what’s happening here in South Africa Silvia. El Nino … there is also an el nina I believe. Thankfully, up here on the highveld where I live, we’ve had rain these last several days. Unsure it’s enough to break the drought. And the rain has caused untold damage, roofs of settlements being blown off, people homeless etc. Our rain started on Monday night – believe me, we were so pleased! Everything was gasping because of the heat and water restrictions were already in place … Take care and be safe …

  10. I am so glad y’all have gotten rain. I live in GA and we had a drought for awhile too. It still have green leaves on most of the trees in my backyard. It doesn’t feel like winter.

  11. I’ve been following the drought via a friend who lives in Half Moon Bay. It’s just ghastly, so every time she tells me it’s raining I do a happy dance. Weather doesn’t so much affect my writing as writing about the weather does in what I am writing. If that’s understandable… I love adding a touch here and there about the temp, the clouds, the humidity, whitecaps on the ocean – it can build a mood.
    Another great post, Sylvia.


    Indeed, Internal and External Storms! Thousands of people have loved this, by John Masefield (1878-1967), and Poet Laureate of the United kingdom (1930 – 1967). From “Sea Fever,” in Salt Water Ballads 1902. Reproduction permitted per WIKIPEDIA, The Free encyclopedia.

    I must go down to the seas again, to the lonely sea and the sky,
    All I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by,
    And the wheel’s kick and the wind’s song and the white sail’s shaking,
    And a gray mist on the sea’s face, and a gray dawn breaking.

    I must go down to the seas again, for the call of the running tide,
    Is a wild call that may not be denied;
    And all I ask is a windy day with the white clouds flying,
    and the flung spray and the blown spume, and the sea gulls crying.

I welcome your thoughts.

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