Okay, Listen Here

Okay, Listen Here

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Go Into The Mist

There is something spectacular about mist. It is in the ethereal nature of mist to cloak surroundings, creating an echo that can be thrilling and frightening at once. Sometimes mist can be thick and dense, fog-like, moistening clothes with each engulfing caress. Other times, it’ll float languidly and light across the road, perhaps hovering above a creek or a copse of trees.

Should we wish it, we could ramble on and on about the scientific properties of mist. I, for one, would like to rely on what I know to be true.

In the Black Hills of South Dakota, there is an old Sioux legend that the mist that enshrouds the Hills is exhaled from a sleeping white giant or the breath of the Great Spirit, Wakan Tanka. The Black Hills are a sacred place. After the Sioux won dominion over it, they were promised by soldiers and a president they could keep it, but when whispers of gold were posted in newspapers out west in 1863, miners risked death to venture into the Hills and stake a claim. It wasn’t until Custer came through with an expedition to find gold, in 1874, that the public learned there definitely was ‘gold in them thar hills’. Why? Because most miners who sought gold in the Hills, were never heard from again.

What about fog? The movie The Fog warns us, “Don’t go into the fog!” (I always hear that bit of dialogue when I see fog.) And, I half-expect Captain Drake and his crew to come walking out of it with a fishing hook in their hands.

Clint Eastwood played a DJ and got embroiled in the worst side of fandom when he heard ‘Play Misty For Me’ over the airwaves.

In Pirates of the Caribbean, At World’s End, a gigantic English armada waits on the other side of mist.

Have you ever walked in woods surrounded by mist? That would seem silly, but movies love this particular scene, especially when dealing with werewolf and vampire themes and a heroine too stupid to live. (TSTL syndrome isn’t rare among mortals.) Take Twilight, for instance. The bad vampires always appear from a mist as if floating on air: beauty and the beast, strength and weakness, love and fear, peace and mayhem, insulated in one entity, mist.

Today, as I was driving home from work, mist hovered low upon the ground and visibility was limited off in the distance. How was I to know there wasn’t an English fleet waiting to challenge me on the other side, if I might find myself stranded in the Bermuda Triangle, or whether or not I might meet Captain Drake, himself.

Imagination. Amazing how it works, isn’t it?

Imagination has power!

As writers, we often feel as though we are struggling free of mist, fleeing the beast bearing down upon us. When we cannot see what awaits on the other side of this achievement or that final or that request, and we cannot look back to see how far we’ve come, how are we to know that each challenge outweighs the risk?

We come prepared. We believe. By writing every day, nurturing our imaginations, tendering our hearts, balancing our mortality, and venturing where no writer has gone before, we WILL break out of whatever hurdle, or mist, stands between us and the bridge over the abyss. Like the Sioux in the Black Hills, if we focus on the sanctity of our calling, the breath of the Great Editor/Agent will spill down upon us, bringing us peace… and a three-book deal.

Now, isn’t that imagination? ;)

What do you think when you see mist? Do you get fanciful notions about pirates and villains, or can you see your way through it and to the other side without looking back?


  1. Since writing my latest fantasy, when I see mist I think of the protective mist surrounding my mystical world, keeping it hidden from those lacking the magical heritage to pass through it.

    Very lyrical and enjoyable post, Kathy.

  2. The mist enveloped me yesterday too. I don't like not knowing what's in it. My imagination runs in all directions. I guess I wouldn't make it in England, now would I? Actually, what I would like to find in the mist is my muse. She seems to hiding and darting away lately. Perhaps lurking in the mist?

  3. Crystal, Morrowville is a very bewitching place. The mist there is definitely magical. I love the way you've included mist in your book and how it relates to stepping into another world. ;)

    Cheryl, everytime time I think of mist/fog now, I remember the post you did during Halloweeen week about the Civil War soldiers that still continue to march in the fog near where you live. I still want to experience that. Very compelling!

    Funny you should mention England. I can't imagine having to walk in a mist/fog that is thick enough that you can barely breath in, or makes you think of Jack the Ripper who stalked prostitutes among the streets swathed in fog. Yikes!

    As to your muse, remember this. Keeping going, keep weaving in and out of obstacles that appear in the mist. You may only get glimpses of your muse here and there, but eventually the mist will dissipate revealing what you seek.

  4. Cheryl, perhaps your muse took a detour into the mist surrounding my mystical world. I'll be on the lookout for her. If I should find myself in overdrive with regard to the storyline for the next book in my fantasy series, I'll suspect she had something to do with it.

  5. I posted but it went into the mist.

    Again--Sometimes you have to wander in the mist to find a clear path. And what is learned in the mist is valuable.

  6. When I see mist I ususally think first about if it is heavy enough to get my shoes wet. I know that is odd but I really, really don't like to have wet feet.

    I had to laugh when I read this and was thinking about the mist. Kathy is so lyrical, Cheryl is suspious, Jean is wise and I am worried about my shoes.

    Isn't that just like us. :-)

  7. I love mists and fog. Use it in Lady Silver during the evenings in New Orleans. Great atomsphere.

  8. Jean, I agree. We, as writers, are always so focused on the end result that we don't appreciate the journey. Go into the mist. Put your low beams on and take the time you need to find your way. After all, it's about getting to your final destination, not how fast you get there. Isn't it?

    Stephanie, you're so funny! I had to laugh at your post. I did so because you have everyone down pat. I'm not sure I'm lyrical but I'll go with it. ;)

    Patricia, a kindred soul. I remember the mist in Lady Silver. Very well done!

  9. Kathy, great post and good information. I love using the mist to create suspense. There's just something about someone stepping out of the mist into a circle of light and someone watching...