For Wednesday, April 20, 2016:
“I write only because there is a voice within me that will not be still.”
“The quieter you are, the more you hear.”
Baba Ram Dass
Some years ago, a book made the rounds of popularity because of its Buddhist teachings. I hope I have the title enough right that others will recognize it: it was something along the lines of ‘After the Laundry, the Ecstasy.’ I think the title should be ‘Along With the Laundry, the Ecstasy,’ or something along those lines. Better yet, perhaps ‘Do the Dishes, Hear the Voices,’ because once again I heard my characters’ voices as I did the supper dishes last night.
It’s difficult for me to write when I edit someone’s fiction manuscript, which I’m doing right now. For one thing, I don’t want to mix up the voices of the other person’s characters with mine. When I finish the initial edits on another’s story, I always take a couple of days off before I start again on mine, just to be sure.
But as I’ve noted before, if I’m in the midst of some mindless task, such as laundry or doing dishes or sweeping, I often hear ‘my’ folks start talking, or at least whispering, no matter where I am in someone else’s edits. Or I can see the characters, standing together or separately, as if they are waiting for me to put in an appearance.
Given the popularity of that long-ago book, I suspect I’m not alone in this. Even if one is not a writer, most of us have known moments equivalent to a ‘Eureka’ while in the bathtub or shower. As an introvert and more than a little bit of a hermit, I crave silence and alone time. While I know not everyone does, of course, I do despair that many of today’s young people will not know how to find the silence their bodies and minds – like ours – actually do need for physiological, psychological, and spiritual reasons because they are so tuned into their devices and the noises and distractions that emanate from them.
Previous and ongoing studies explore why this is so, and I have my own theories – what are people trying to block out with so much noise, for instance? What do they fear they will hear from and about others and themselves? – but most writers and artists learn they need time and space to hear (first) and heed those inner voices, their own and/or their characters’ or their poems’ or their paintings’.
Thankfully this particular round of edits is going well and fast, so last evening I told my fictional friends I might be able to visit them early next week. I didn’t hear any shouts of glee from them, but they did appear to settle back a little more patiently. I do hope, though, they’ll be back at the kitchen sink as I wait.