I hate to harp on a topic, but I’m home alone this week while my wife and kids are still living it up on the beach in Florida.
Well… living it up may not be entirely accurate. Storms have forced the local authorities to close the beaches, so they can’t do much more than dunk their toes in the water or hang at the pool, but still, they have the lovely view every day, and they have each other, which is a lot more than I have at the moment. And don’t get me wrong — it’s nice having the house to myself. It’s quiet.
But it’s also soooooo quiet.
I never thought much about it before, but I always write with a healthy supply of noise in the background. At work there’s the intermittent shouts of students in hallways or the low drone of teachers in other classrooms, not to mention the constant hum of the air conditioners. At home there’s the buzz of the kids’ monitors or the sound of the television in the other room, or the click-clack of the pets’ claws on the hardwood, or — even when I write in bed — the softly interminable whooshing of the white noise machine that we can’t sleep without. There is noise everywhere.
But this week, there’s an astounding lack of noise. The kids aren’t here, so there are no tantrums, no shouting, no pitter-pattering of feet, no whining. The wife isn’t here, so there’s nobody to watch TV with or chat about my day. And to top it off, the weather has been frustratingly gorgeous this week, so the A/C hasn’t had to run. The silence is shocking, and as I sit in the silence trying to write, I find myself increasingly unable. It’s almost as if, without those periodic punctuation marks for my concentration, I find myself unable to maintain focus. Does that make me ADD? Lonely? Stir-crazy?
I’ve got the television on now in the other room just to break the monotony, but even that isn’t doing the trick. This house, normally so full of irritations and distractions and light and life and love is driving me batty with the overpowering lack of movement and noise. I feel the silence creeping in around me and settling into my soul.
Silence used to be a comfort to me. It used to be a thing I sought, a thing I chased for all I was worth; perhaps because it was so unattainable. Now it’s here — all around me — and I’m running from it.
Anyway, it got me to thinking. Am I uncomfortable with the silence or am I uncomfortable with what it means: the isolation, the inability to hide from my thoughts? And it got me further wondering. Am I the only person writing like this? I know some out there must write in perfect silence, but then I think there have got to be others on the spectrum like me that simply can’t abide it.
How does the silence affect your writing?