“Silence more musical than any song.”
This lovely thought adorns a poster in the Middlebury College library in a section where no cell phones or other devices are allowed. It gave me a thrill to see it because I am one of those people it was written for. I love silence — especially when I’m working — and especially in places like libraries where it is often in short supply.
I don’t know why, but I’ve always been really sensitive to sound. I could never study when music was playing, for example. When I was in college, I sometimes found myself staking a claim to a bit of turf in the storage area of my dorm because it was the only place quiet enough for me to study. Even now, I never write with music playing and if there’s work going on outside my house, I find it difficult to concentrate — a major handicap out in the ‘burbs where you have to contend with leaf blowers and lawn mowers.
Oh well! I’m not complaining. I’m merely acknowledging the fact that silence is really important to me. After all, one of my writing coaches once said, “Everything begins in silence.” In my mind, that really rings true. When writing, silence can bring you closer to yourself and your source of inspiration.
For me, noise is just one more distraction, though I know that some people use it very effectively as a way of distracting themselves from distraction. But that strategy just doesn’t work for me, so I’m going to just keep on listening for the music of silence. How beautiful it is in those rare moments when I encounter it. How about you? Is silence part of your work on the page?