A new family moved into the apartment above me last week. When I moved into my apartment last Fall, I was foolish enough to request a first-floor unit in order to make the move easier. (Large pieces of furniture are hard to move upstairs.) Now I’m wondering if I made the right choice. As I sit here writing this, the two kids in the family, one about three years, the other perhaps six, are running around yelling and screaming about something, the mother is yelling back, and the father is god-knows-where. Every now and then someone turns on the radio or stereo or television and adds to the noise, not to mention the sharp squeaking of the floor boards when they walk around. Someone right outside my window is yelling to the people above me. There isn’t a helluva lot I can do about it; you can’t tell kids to be quiet unless you put them down for a nap. I guess I’ll just have to learn to live with it. But it sure screws up the writing.
That brings up the point of this blog. Writing is such a solitary lifestyle. You have to be willing to go into a room (and close the door if necessary) and sit alone with your thoughts just to come up with something to put down on paper. It’s only by the power of the human brain that we produce the written word, and brain power takes time to work. I don’t know about you, but I need a quiet place to do my work. I like working out of my home because it usually is quiet during the day when everybody else is at work. There’s a children’s playground outside my window, but that doesn’t usually bother me because the noise there is sporadic and muffled. Occasionally a jet airplane will roar over, (most frequently Southwest Airlines) but that’s also not a problem because it, too, is infrequent. But now with two small children upstairs and the thunder of little feet, well, who knows?
I like the quiet. I like being alone with my thoughts of novel or short story, or whatever. I created the characters of my novel, not out of childish daydreams or infantile fantasy, but to bring them to life and present them to the world as real and substantive. The exist for me, and I hope they exist for whoever reads the book, once it’s published. To do that takes time, work, a computer to write on, and the aforementioned brainpower. And surrounding all that, holding it in and keeping it solidly in place, is the quiet of the office environment. If you crave company, if you’re outgoing and gregarious, writing may not be for you. Unless you have one whale of a story to tell.
Some people can write in a public place, like a coffee shop or a bookstore or a library. I’ve tried it, and it didn’t work for me. Even Starbucks was too noisy, what with people coming in and going out, placing their order, talking to others in person or on the phone. Starbucks isn’t a library, neither is Barnes & Noble. One other drawback of public places is that the internet access is of questionable security, and I have to be online to write this. Additionally, the library is unavailable today because I write my blogs on Sunday when the libraries are closed. Upshot: stay at home and put up with the noise.
It’s been quiet for the last half-hour, but now one of the kids upstairs is throwing a tantrum, yelling and screaming about God-knows-what. What about the readers of this blog? How do you like noise as opposed to quietness when writing? Comments?
Now I’m going to see if I can set my laser printer to “stun.”