It was a dark and stormy night…

There is no uglier way to start a story or a novel than with the words above, and no self-respecting writer should ever do so unless your name is Charles Schulz and you are drafting lines for Snoopy sitting on top of his dog house with a typewriter.

As I write this, for the forth time as my attempts to restore the lost drafts have failed, the wind is howling outside, the rain is pouring, and the silhouettes of the trees are doing the conga. Oh yes, Mother Nature is having a tantrum over Berlin this evening. My cat, being the loyal ball of fluff that she is, is asleep at my feet, snoring, but not before she declared me stark, raving mad.

Jewels of the Night ©MTHerzog

I decided to experiment and find out if there is any truth to the old legend about being a better writer if you do so by candlelight, just like the masters did so in the olden days before Thomas Edison came along. I draw the line at using a feather as a writing tool though. So while the weather is utterly dreadful outside, I switched off all the lamps, lit six tea lights, and scattered the lanterns around the conservatory.

At first it felt a bit like a Halloween night, with the Macbook providing the only additional source of light. It is pitch dark around me, there is no music emanating from the speakers, and my fingers are flying over the keyboard. I have a thousand ideas doing a 4×4 relay race in my head and emotions seem to be teetering on the edge of insanity, but it has been a long time since I have been this attuned to my senses and sensibilities.


Like in photography, light plays the lead role in the stage of perception. The interplay between light and shadow, and the mastery thereof, spells all the difference between a crappy image done by an ignorant beginner or a brilliant photographer who has discovered the pas de deux between soul and vision. As I always say, a camera owner does not a photographer make. A good photographer will make you feel the moment, tease the intellect, and draw out the emotion. In the same manner, a good writer will transport you to another dimension, a parallel world if you may, with the careful crafting of words and mind travels.


My so-called Hemingway moments wherein a glass of wine keeps me company in a restaurant or cafe as I take notes on the surroundings and peoples behavior in order to incorporate them into a scene, have served me well thus far. Now, the absence of light has given me the Dante Alighieri experience I have been searching for. Here I sit, with no barrier between my soul and my creative imagination, and finally understand the gift of darkness, which I should have known all along from photography: focus.


  1. Most welcome! It has worked for me so far and helped me overcome writer’s block. It’s a bit tricky at the moment with daylight saving’s time, which means late night writing sessions, but that adds to the mystery!

  2. I really enjoyed this piece…. it reignited my love of writing, and possibly a candlelit scenario will infuse the just right balance between drama, mystery and intrigue that I would like to create…Thank you for the inspiration!!

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