Silence and Solitude

Last night, the snow began to fall. This morning, it looked like Narnia before Aslan, as winters tend to do around here. You expect to see the White Witch driving by on her sleigh.

Here is what it looked like last night, when the snow had begun falling:

Today, there were three inches of snow on the ground. (At least, I scraped three inches off the car.) I had originally planned to drive to the university, but the roads were covered with snow, so I thought it would be better to stay home. The bushes looked like this:

A day alone in a quiet house: that’s heaven, for an introvert. It was lovely, just sitting and working. I haven’t done that for a while. I’ve had so many errands to run, so many things to do. I feel as though I’m always going somewhere, always rushing around. But I need peace and silence and solitude to do my best work. That’s what I got today.

Here I am, working on this snowy day:

Tomorrow, I have to take a bus to New York, and it will be a busy weekend. I’m glad I got to spend at least one day like this. When I get back, I have to look at my life, try to figure how to have more days like today. Because these are the sorts of days I need to write. I haven’t been writing at all for a while now, partly because I haven’t had the time, but partly because I haven’t had the peace of mind I need to write the sort of thing I write, the way I write it. You seen, I need to hear the story. And I hear it best in silence, or when there’s some sort of noise I don’t need to pay much attention to. Some classical music, the sound of driving. (I have a story coming out in Asimov’s Science Fiction that I wrote on a bus on the way back from New York.) I’m not the sort of person who can write in a public place.

And my life is a very busy, public life. I teach seventy students, I receive between fifty and a hundred emails a day. Sometimes, I can barely keep up.

I need to incorporate solitude and silence into my life . . .

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10 Responses to Silence and Solitude

  1. Jennifer O. says:

    I know what you mean about needing the silence. I was so excited because I’d started walking again, and lo and behold, my neighbor decides she’s going to come along. I really enjoy my 4-5 mile walks alone. I need the time to get lost in my head and maybe come out with something writeable.

  2. I also need to write in silence. I don’t understand how some writers can write to music, or even /need/ it to get the story down. I think it was Lilith Saintcrow mentioned on Twitter that she bought a white noise machine. If I had some spare cash laying around I might consider it, too 🙂

  3. bentneedle says:

    Your snow looks lovely! I love the “sound” of silence right after a snowfall of a few inches…it’s perfect.

  4. walker1812 says:

    Funny enough, my ideal place to write is at my local hangout restaurant. It’s a local place that serves Italian food till 2am and till 4am on Fridays & Saturdays. I’m on a first name basis with the staff and they know my tastes well. I like to get a booth in the back section of the restaurant, which is usually closed to diners except at peak times and I’ll sit there and write for a few hours at a time. They will periodically check on me, refresh my drink or bring me food. When they catch me staring off into space they will come by and chat, but if i’m typing they are good about leaving me alone. Really that is my ideal place to write.

    Anyway, that’s what I get for being a solitary extrovert.

    • That actually sounds nice. And when there’s noise around and it’s non-specific, it can be like silence. Vague conversations that you’re not really interested in can function like a white noise machine . . .

  5. Emily Gilman says:

    I teach seventy students, I receive between fifty and a hundred emails a day. Sometimes, I can barely keep up.

    My first thought was, “Only seventy?” 😛 But I’ll take the extra students over the extra e-mails any day. (At least until it’s time for report cards….)

    Yesterday was really confusing: I have my students every other day, but I’d been so tired Wednesday that I almost couldn’t remember anything that happened, including which classes I’d actually had the day before and which classes I felt like I’d had the day before because I remembered Tuesday better than Wednesday.

  6. I live in a large Southern California city, Long Beach. My refuge is the beach at Alamitos Bay before dawn. I love the dawn, the progression from the indigo of the first brightening through all the various shades from violet, to purples to pink, salmon and finally yellow. The divine palette is a major creative inspiration that is best experienced in ones or twos and not interrupted by anyone more than the local seagulls and pelicans.

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