Saturday, July 14, 2007

Silence

Okay, this is how crazy I am. Crazy little writer.

I didn't seem to have any ideas for what to write here this morning, so I inquired of the I Ching if it had any suggestions for a topic for today. The Ching gave me the hexagram,"Keeping Still." LOL. My first thought, upon seeing that, was, "I can take a hint." Keeping still sounded like a good idea. After a full week of blogging, on the sixth day, she rested. Time to read, think, ponder?

So, I wrote a post saying that this will be a day of keeping still on the blog for me.

It wouldn't post. Again and again, it wouldn't post. Hmm.

So I asked the I Ching, "What am I missing here?"

I got the suggestion, "There is a large fruit still uneaten."

I'm missing an opportunity for something juicy, in other words. And what might that be? Why, the role of Keeping Still in the writing life, of course.

Maybe because I'm an only child, being alone and quiet has never been a problem for me. In fact, I need it, crave it regularly, have to close my eyes if I'm surrounded by too many people for too long and need to shut them out. But it was never as important to me as it was when I plunged into writing fiction.

From the beginning of my fiction-writing career, Keeping Still has been essential for me. When I switched from having freelance clients to having no clients, and I descended into my basement office to work on fiction fulltime, I understood it was essential to carve out great chunks of time when nobody could get to me. I turned on the telephone answering machine. I resigned from organizations and volunteer work. I turned down invitations. I gave myself the luxury of time and silence, and that became part of the juicy matrix in which I grew myself as a novelist and short story writer. A year and a half later, when I had a child, I got one of those baby monitors and put one end in his room and the other end in mine. When he slept, I went to the basement and wrote in the blissful silence. The hell with housework. The hell with naps for myself. (I never could nap, anyway.) The hell with talking on the phone with friends. (I hate the phone, anyway.) Heaven was half an hour, or a few hours, with the silence and my IBM Selectric Typewriter.

I meet wannabe writers who just won't turn the world off. Everything else comes first, before their writing (or drawing, or whatever). Everybody else comes first. They're not as driven and selfish as I was, perhaps.

I can't work as a writer without hours, days of silence. I protect it. I hide from invaders, and if that doesn't deter them, I snarl. GRRR. Warning: Writer at Work. They may not take me seriously, but I do, because I'm the only one who can finish my book.

I like to reword the old submarine saying to: Go Silent, Go Deep.

I'm submerging today, but I'm sure I'll be chatty later. See you then.

21 comments:

Nancy P said...

Testing. My Saturday post doesn't want to publish, so I'm writing this comment to see if that nudges it into print.

Catharine said...

Hmmm. I can see it just fine. Now.

It disappeared a little earlier just as I was getting ready to comment.

What does it mean when your own post goes silent on you?

Family Man said...

Morning Nancy.

First off you maligned the Holy Order of the Slackatudinally Challenged.

(I never could nap, anyway.) Blasphemy, blasphemy I tell ya. Napping is one of the cornerstone of our order. If you can ever get one of us awake, we'll explain the rest of the cornerstones.

Over the years, I've lived by myself a good bit. I'm not the type of person that has to have someone around all the time. The "Keeping Still part I think I understand just from living by myself and enjoying it.

Hope everyone has a good day.

Kelly McCullough said...

I squeeze the hours out as well, though being alone doesn't matter to me as much as it used to. I can work with people in the same room as I am now as long as I don't have to hear them talking.

Kelly McCullough said...

P.S. Morning Katie Bird, Family Man. waves.

Jen said...

So, I wrote a post saying that this will be a day of keeping still on the blog for me.

It wouldn't post. Again and again, it wouldn't post. Hmm.


I saw that post this morning, so it did post somewhere/somehow. Your blog is clearly magical -- first you post from the future, and now you're posting what you don't even know you're posting.

I do that whole retreat thing as well.

AndiF said...

Morning all.

I love people to go away and I never like to around people in groups. That's one of the best things about communities on the internet -- you opt in and opt out at your pleasure.

Pic from today's walk -- camp's in session but what's the activity?

Sally said...

Good morning Nancy and all the other fascinating people who pepper (paprika?) your site (BTW--I do so like your quotes). I am letting go of a long week, though I know we are through with letting go and into silence. Silence is a funny thing--I am sitting on my deck in silence, surrounded by the chirping and squealing of birds and the sound of the sun on the trees and grass, and the woodpecker on the side of the house, and the leaves moving on a very slow lazy breeze. It's a lovely silence.

Nancy P said...

Well, I haven't been very quiet. I spoke to a book club today and talked their ears off. They were wonderful, and it was a lot of fun.

I'll be around all evening, so if you are, and you want company, stop in and say howdy. Maybe we can line dance.

Catharine said...

This is where I'd post a photo. If that was possible.

(WAVING) I'm here!! Guess what?! I found some stationary paper!!! At the Hallmark store at The Village! They sell it by the sheet. 10¢ a sheet. Not bad. (Until you count all the gas I burned finding it)

Nancy P said...

Amazing that it took so long to find it. WHAT is this world coming to?

Signed,
Old Fogey

Catharine said...

The woman at the store said it was a popular item. I told her, I wasn't surprised since she's apparently the only person in the entire town selling it.

Paper. Who would think you'd have to drive all over town to find it?

Mister's mother came in while we were napping on the couch and asked, "are you resting" about 5 times before either of us woke up.

And when I did, I told her to get out. But she took that for a sign to start talking.

I ordered her out a couple more times then got up. And ORDERed her to get out. She got huffy.

And said, "There's something very wrong with you."

Mister hustled her into her side saying, "Who would want to be woken up like that & you do it everyday?"

The (he told me later) she said, "What are you doing at night? Can't you sleep at night like everyone else?"

(giggling)

Nancy P said...

Giggling, indeed.

That is also so funny about what you said to the Hallmark saleswoman.

Catharine said...

I hadn't thought of it like that, but I can see you're right.

We came back from our walk early. A crazy looking line of clouds blew in and we weren't sure we'd make it home if we stayed out.

It's been dark here for about 10 minutes already. And it's not 9 yet.

I wish I'd had my camera with me -- the clouds looked like something staged by George Lucas.

Nancy P said...

The clouds keep promising rain, but not delivering. I've done my part--I watered my flowers. Do they expect me to wash my car, too?

Catharine said...

Yeh, what's going on out there. The wind is fierce. But, it's been an hour and we haven't got anything here either (like the weather would be that much different at my house).

We're watching the strangely named America's Got Talent. 2 of 3 judges are British.

Nancy P said...

the strangely named America's Got Talent.

Snort.

boran2 said...

Hi all. Late for the party. I crave quiet time, a rare thing these days. The stress of life is just a bit overwhelming sometimes.

Iowa Victory Gardener said...

I agree that silent time is the best time, and days when I can avoid having to speak at all are some of the most enjoyable. Back when I was travelling all over the country interviewing people for my job, the one thing I looked forward to the most was getting back to my hotel, where I could have a beer, not speak to anyone and just savor the silence. Fortunately I'm not doing that now (and don't miss airports one bit!), but I still like being able to just be alone with my thoughts.

Movie reco for the day: Just watched The Devil Wears Prada tonight and was surprised at how much I enjoyed it! I even thought Meryl (Ms. Emotathon) Streep was brilliant for a switch. But somehow being an icy cold blast of a bitch probably wasn't so hard for her, hehe. Am I mean?

Nancy P said...

boran2, "crave" is exactly the verb for me, too, sometimes. Often.

You know what? Epiphany here. I think that may be a major reason I love email and blogs. We can all interact in quiet.

Nancy P said...

IVG, that's how I feel on book tours. On a book tour, you go from city to city. A stranger picks you up at the airport and drives you around all day to do what they call "drive-bys," where you meet booksellers and sign their stock of your book(s). If you're lucky you do tv or radio interviews. All of those people--with the exception of the booksellers, usually--are far more gregarious than the writer! It's like stuffing an introvert (of sorts) into a crowded room and locking the door so he can't leave until he has met everybody. And then you give a talk at a store and meet more people.

I actually feel incredibly grateful (truly) to get to do that, and I love being sent on tours. BUT the constant meeting and talking is definitly both the pleasure and the hard part for somebody who's home alone and quiet most of the time. The last thing I want to do after a day of that is to talk to even one more person. I want my hotel room. Room service. Teevee.