Silence is Golden

by RS on December 7, 2009

I’m one of those writers who can’t work when there’s background noise. Greg usually asks me if he can put on a CD and the only one I’ll allow him to play while I’m writing is Miles Davis’ Kind of Blue.

Unlike my better half, who likes the chatter of the TV or the radio, I’m on the opposite end of the noise scale. I like it deathly quiet. In fact if I could have a closed and sound-proof cubby hole, similar to the one I had in the graduate reading room in college, I would be very happy. My demands are simple: all I need is a comfortable chair, a desk, and a decent light.

Unfortunately, I can’t have that. Although I work from home there have been times that I wanted to escape from barking dogs and a spouse who has the urge to cook (like right now), but there’s really no place to escape for peace and quiet (or even a decent cappuccino).

Last winter when I was trying to slog my way through Jonathan Littel’s The Kindly Ones, I had the brilliant idea of going to the library. Our local branch is small and downstairs there’s a section that’s relatively private, but I didn’t realize that a small town library is also a community center that hosts a number of daily activities.

Everytime I went with the massive tome, I didn’t get too far into the story partly because Littel writes these non-ending sentences and paragraphs, but also because it was so noisy. The first time I went, I was kicked out of my spot thanks to the weekly knitting club was meeting. No problem, I thought, I’ll go upstairs by the periodical section. After 15 minutes of listening to the librarians gossip and the school kids running around, I decided to call it a day.

I love our little library and our librarians are incredibly nice, but I have to say that they are the gabbiest bunch I’ve ever encountered. Mr. Bookman, the library cop from an early Seinfeld episode, would have a seizure if he heard these women gab away at normal conversational tones.

Suffice it to say that there’s really no place for me to go unless I decide to drive to a beach and sit in the car. I can read, but writing is difficult. I’ve placed a moratorium on when the TV can be turned on and I’ve compromised on the cooking noise and the music played. Much to my surprise, though,  Kind of Blue puts me in a zen mode and I can write with ease. 

As of right now the cooking noise has leveled off and maybe it’s time for a little bit of Miles and his trumpet while I work on the Julius mess.

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