“What’s on the other side of the rain?” is a quote from the fantasy novel Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell by Susanna Clarke. Rain is an important element in the book. Characters are always crossing over into or out of magical worlds in the rain, and there is one incredible moment where a character travels by thunderstorm. Clarke herself used rain to travel back and forth into the world of her novel. When she needed to get into the proper headspace (what used to be called “looking for inspiration”) she would close the blinds against the sunny weather, put on a CD of rain sounds, and write. Guillermo del Toro also writes by rain. He has installed a rain room in his California mansion, with windows that flash with the light of imaginary lightning and walls that boom with artificial thunder.
I work at home when I can, but most often I am in a little cube surrounded by noise, light, and people. It can stress me out. So I put on headphones and crank up the thunder and lightning from tracks on iTunes. Sometimes I listen to the sound of wind in the trees, or crashing ocean waves. It drowns out the thought killing noise and takes me far away from where I am. Suddenly I am sitting with my laptop on a verandah overlooking a jungle, on the deck of a ship at sea, or on a bench next to the front door of a mountain cabin. In a place like that, five minutes can be an eternity, and my imagination has freedom to roam. I can figure things out. I can string words together. I can work.
That is, until my boss taps me on the shoulder.