The Prompter Room

For Wednesday, April 20, 2016:


“I write only because there is a voice within me that will not be still.”

Sylvia Plath

“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.


2 thoughts on “The Prompter Room

  1. I hear my voices when I’m in bed and the house is quiet. I use the notebook app on my kindle so I can write in the dark. Only problem is there have been times that I’ve written great poems and lost them.


  2. Oh snap, Genie, referring to Plath’s words, did you read the comments to my last post? We are once again surfing a similar wave. I always enjoy these synchronicities. Although I do not hear characters’ voices, never have, actually, I do hear what I would term wisdom from some sacred fount. Again, always have. When I was younger, it came in a different form, but was still a great comfort in my troubled youth. And yes, the quiet. I live in it, even to the point I rarely, rarely even listen to music. And we have quite a library of it. Birdsong, yes. This morning with a full-ish moon, it was roosters awakening me at 5. The distant tinkle of wind chimes. Sometimes massive waves crashing into ocean cliffs a short distance from our home. More. Noticing the hawk or flock of egrets flying overhead requires we look up, out, beyond perceived peripheries.

    I think many people, whether now, then or in the future simply cannot sit with themselves. It wigs them out. Perhaps it’s all the shoulds, the voices of reason conflicting with desire, remorse, whatever unresolved emotional backlog bashes its head into their own. I do remember shaking that all out, once I left the chaos and tucked myself into the woods of Maine. Yet the silence of the wind through the trees and the water gently lapping the shore echoed deeply my own interior nature, and I immediately felt at home. And yes, we are both clearly introverts. Still, everyone does need rest, no human is equipped to deal with distraction, full-time. It would short-circuit the nervous system (and does).

    That’s a Kornfield book, “After the Ecstacy, the Laundry.” Or chop wood, carry water.

    Blessings, Genie.


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