It’s raining today and I’m looking out over a rather grey landscape. The clouds hang heavy over the treetops. If I were a novel character, I might get depressed and melancholy. Or even better; the weather would probably reflect the mood I was already in. The weather is thankful that way. With the help of clouds, the feeling and mood can be dialled in.

The catch is that it can easily become too clear and that it can turn into a cliché. It has been used many times, to put it mildly. But sometimes it works amazingly well. It makes me think of the battle of Helm’s Deep in Peter Jackson’s movie trilogy The Lord of the Rings. I don’t remember what Tolkien wrote about the rain during the beginning of the battle, but in the film, it gives a final feeling of total hopelessness, when nothing could be worse.

The humans face a huge army of bloodthirsty orcs and their whole army has not had time to gather. The wizard Gandalf is not there and the disadvantage is crippling. Both camps are waiting in tense silence, waiting for the signal for the inevitable attack. In people’s eyes, terror and despair. Then a drop falls on a helmet. Rarely have you felt so strongly about an army as when the rain quickly increases and finally pours down on them. No one says anything, but it’s clear what everyone’s thinking; Everything is against us, even the weather!

Right now it’s raining heavily outside my window, much like it did in Helm’s Deep. But I am not facing a decisive battle. Since I’m not a fictional character either, the heavy clouds outside do not embody my inner state. The outside and the inside are, so to speak separated, as it often is in this life. However, today I struggle with a form problem. I have to 
decide which technique I will use in the work with the upcoming illustrations.

I take back what I just wrote – there is, in a sense, an internal battle going on that gives me no peace.
Should I use a proven technique or should I use a newfound technique for the upcoming pictures?

What I decide will stick around for a while so it is after all pretty decisive which side wins. Right now, the odds are that the new technology will have to concede defeat to the old proven bow. At least this time.

Mattias is an author and illustrator