It’s Quiet … Too Quiet

by MW Cook

     I’ve heard preachers claim that noise is the music of hell. Have you heard that before? Silly, eh?

     I used to try writing in the library. I went nearly every day for a month. I think I managed a couple hundred words a day. A pittance. Good enough to keep the dream alive but not enough to give it breath.

     The problem with writing in a library is that it’s too quiet. And when it’s too quiet, it gets really loud. I can hear the gentle tinkling of the air conditioner. Down on the other side of the library two people are having a conversation in hushed whispers that I can hear perfectly. The employees are gently putting books on the shelf. And they’re all so damned quiet that the noise is overwhelming.

     One of my favorite places to write is the mall food court. There is not a drop of quietness to be found.

     Teens yelling and goofing off at the table next to me. Janitors cleaning up spills and emptying garbage bins. The loud smells of food and coffee dancing throughout the place. Always movement. Always life. Always noise.

     When everyone is special, no one is. When everyone is quiet, no one is. And when everything is loud and chaotic, in truth it is peace and quiet of a purity that is hard to manufacture.

     When there is noise and movement all around you, it’s easy to sink into that special place where all the good things flow. But when everyone around you is trying to be quiet, then the tiniest change in the artificial stasis is jarring.

     Don’t seek for peace and quiet. It only exists in places where there is no life. And don’t dare try to create art in a place where there is no life. Noise is a gift, not a curse. Embrace it. Love it. It charges your art and soothes your psyche if you let it. And if you’re writing at home and your wife and kids are trying their best to create an environment of peace and quietness, tell them to watch a loud movie and listen to music and wrestle in the next room. It’ll make your process that much better.