Filling the Silence

Writing is a struggle against silence. Carlos Fuentes

In my partnering with my subconscious my subconscious has a lot to say. And most of what he says (yes, my subconscious is a he) relates to silence. While I am working with the texts they may become prose poems or an essay, I am thinking how so many people avoid silence. We fill our lives with sound what are we trying to drown out?

During the last residency we went on a "sound walk", eight of us single file followed our adviser around campus and when she stopped we stood and just listened. Concentrating on the sounds we normally don't hear, our soundscape. I liked this definition from City In a Soundwalk "The soundwalk is a practice of focused listening in which one moves through an environment with complete attention to sound. Any environment, at any time of day or night, can provide space for soundwalking."


Usually, when I write I put on the television or the radio as background noise. This morning instead I am sitting by the open window and just listening. In the garden I hear the squirrels barking as they fight each other over bird seed in the anti-squirrel feeder that they figured out in weeks. I hear the doves cooing in the mock orange tree. The hum of the fridge and the sprinklers in my neighbor's yard. A car goes by the next street over. Cocoa sleeping at my feet is breathing deeply, not quite a snore. All these sounds I miss when the white noise of the TV is on. And then there is the music and sound of language. A reason why everything you write should be read aloud. It sounds different on the page.

Today, consider taking a soundwalk, by yourself or in a group. How will this help your writing? By being more in tune with your surroundings and the sounds you will remember to add all of the details to your writing. Now get back to work!

Lovingly,
The Writing Nag