Sounds of Silence. Whose first ‘aha’ is Simon and Garfunkel? If so, perhaps, like me, you are giving away your age!
This last month or two I’ve listened to lots of different sounds of silence. It’s been a pretty bleak, wet spell in what we usually refer to as ‘hot, sunny Perth.’ To abate the morning’s chill, my favourite sound is the hissing and spitting logs in our pot belly stove while I type away. I wrap myself in the accompanying warmth. It reminds me of camp fires when I was a teen, chanting ‘Who took the cookie from the cookie jar?’ while trying to keep warm at youth camps somewhere in the south-west, possibly Bridgetown. Tapping away at the keyboard is a welcome sound in this space. Then, as now, fire burns away the dross as flames flicker across the threshold of my mind, licking away what doesn’t need to be written.
Close on the heels of my crackling fire is the kettle on top of the pot belly, whistle lifted, gently simmering. Sometimes I prepare a pot of soup or a stew and it simmers in its place. So now the sounds are accompanied by the domestic bliss of knowing dinner is cooking, and my day ahead is my own. I’m free to write.
In the silence, I hear my thoughts, rumbling through my head on train tracks as heavy as those carrying wheat from rural sidings to the city. That childhood sound is a distant memory, but the occasional, throaty gear-change and roar of heavy trucks carrying across the hills from the Great Eastern Highway rev up my mind from its sleepy state. I search my thoughts for the next blog post, or the next novel and hear options. My inner voice tells me to continue exploring, that one day I might ‘crack it’ – the story that needs to be written. When writing creatively evades me I do other things.
In that space, I read, I research: Reading turns into research. The long cold winter that has frozen over my creativity finds a spark. My first spark comes from listening to others talk. It’s early days yet, but as I recently listened to Tess Woods at the Wanneroo Library regale us with tales about her creative space, I took heart, grabbed my laptop and snuggled down to write. I don’t write anywhere in particular, so writing in bed now took on a whole feeling of ‘it’s okay’. But my silence is broken by my partner snoring, and our cat too! So when I’ve reached a snoring limit, the cat follows my husband to the spare room and my silent space is restored! In two sessions I’ve written over 6000 words. Perhaps this writing space is a winner. Carriages of ideas are rumbling through waiting to be written. My new story’s lurked around the back sticks of my mind for something like five years. Now I’ve begun. Thanks, Tess!
In my home, my main writing place, silence hangs around me like a cloak. It is well worn. It keeps me safe. In that space I become meditative. First thing in the morning I often happen across a post that acts like an affirmation. Once again Louise Allan touched my space and inspired my writing, as she has several times, and for which I am truly grateful. As the quiet season follows the busy, for me it’s like farm life when there’s downtime from the hectic pace of seasonal activity. It’s been a lengthy period of silence in the public arena for me, but creativity is there, ideas are beginning to flow.
In this last period of silence from blog posts, Facebook interaction and social media in general, I’ve taken stock and realise it’s been quite productive. I discovered a long-lost great grandfather in my genealogical research; begun my family tree and found a new cousin. We’ve booked a trip to Edinburgh to take up an opportunity to house sit while driving around Scotland and northern England to places where our ancestors lived. I’m hoping this will feed my historical fiction that was triggered by a photo of my grandmother’s family on a picnic in a tiny English village. I began a new novel, a romance this time – let’s see how that pans out! And, I tidied up a few poems for publication in an anthology and submitted a creative nonfiction piece for another anthology.
Silence doesn’t mean idle. It is merely a time away from the public eye to regroup, tidy up around the edges and embark on new ventures.
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