I am a beachcomber. Depending on what strand of sand I wander, the treasures that wash ashore vary. In Cape Cod, it’s scallop and clam shells. In Myrtle Beach it’s lettered olives and banded tulips. No matter the coastline, there’s often sea glass…and everywhere, on every beach, tumbled stones. 

But not on the Outer Banks of North Carolina. During my first visit there I learned there are no stones along that long, slender sand bar, no bedrock or sedimentary rock. Plenty of shells…but nothing hard, round and tumbled except for one odd exception: strangely shaped pieces the same color as sand. Though they look like stone concretions, they are fulgurite. 

Lightning Stone

Fulgurite is literally lightning stone — created when lightning hits sand.

As the lightning strikes the Earth and courses downward through the sand, the sand is instantly super heated…After cooling, glass-like hollow tubes (Fulgurites) can sometimes be located beneath the surface of the sand, generally decreasing in diameter and sometimes branching…The outer surfaces of fulgurites are often rough…The inner surfaces and openings of the tubes are usually smooth and glassy, in some specimens resembling an applied glaze, sometimes with blister-like bubbling present.

The Mineralogical Research Company

Telling the Story

There’s something about stone formed by lightning — the instantaneous alchemy of heaven and earth fusing together — that’s fascinating. It’s the same with writing. Ideas strike you. Quick, you scribble them down. But it’s like trying to capture lighting in a bottle. Over the long haul it’s not the flash that sustains you but the solidity of purpose. As you write, you slowly unearth the idea burned into your subconscious. Like fulgurite, it will never come up in one piece, so you dig up what you can carefully, steadily, piecing the bits together — and you tell the story.

Creative Catalyst

Like lightning, you have to be struck by the writing you work on. Sometimes for inspiration to spark, you have to break the pattern of the everyday. That’s why I created these retreats and residencies: so like-minded individuals could gather together and share a space in which writing is the common goal.

It’s my belief that the combination of sun and sand, ocean waves and starry nights, old and new friends, and days of writing together can be a powerful creative catalyst. 

It’s my hope that whatever retreat you choose, you find yourself struck by inspiration again and again and again.

— Linda Lowen, Founder, Struck By Writing

Photo by Anggit Rizkianto on Unsplash

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