Monday, June 22, 2009

Silence is Golden

By Ali Cross

Imagine if you couldn’t speak. What would you do? How would you let people know what you were thinking, feeling, what you needed?

At the end of a vacation in which there was neither time nor opportunity to write, I felt very much like such a person.

I ate up the miles behind the wheel imagining what I would write about next, how I would change or improve my current stories and how wonderful it would feel to be able to express myself again.

In many ways, taking such breaks from writing can be good for you—absence makes the heart grow fonder, and all that jazz. You get to step back from your writing and, for a change, see the forest, instead of just the trees. You can cleanse your mind, like taking a sniff of cocoa beans after sampling perfume. (I’m trying to see how many similes I can come up with in one paragraph, like a brunch buffet on a Saturday morning.)

I willed my car to fly over the miles that separated me from my goal—to spend a few hours of peace and quiet with nothing but my stories to keep me company. Since simply willing the time to pass more quickly didn’t work, I entertained myself on the long drive by writing in my mind, or, as Terry Brooks says, daydreaming.

Easily as important as the time you spend with fingers on the keys, or pen to paper, daydreaming is an essential part of any good storyteller’s routine. We need to be able to let our mind flow over the ideas, collecting and discarding them as they come. Allow all your senses to come into play and immerse yourself into the story as you did when you were a child.

So what if you couldn’t speak? Assuming it’s a temporary thing, you might cherish the silence. Similarly, if you’re without pen and paper or in my case, a laptop and power supply, treasure the time you have to dream. Silence, as they say, can truly be golden.


L.T. Elliot said...

True that. Daydreaming is sometimes the best fuel for my writing. I like to get back into the heart of things by getting to wander in and out of the world's of my characters, living as they might life. I eavesdrop on their conversations, sample their tables, and basically become the invisible guest to their parties. It's good, clean fun.
Beautiful post, Ali.

Ali Cross said...

LOL, you got it Lex! Sometimes I think we get caught up in the word count, feel the pressure to MAKE PROGRESS that we forget to LIVE in their world a bit ... and I believe it's living in that world that makes it really come alive for our reader.

elizabeth said...

Imagine where we'd be without writing if we couldn't speak? Where would all our words go?

Terresa said...

Love these thoughts...yes, daydreaming is a big part of being a writer I'm finding. And i like the imagery of sniffing cocoa beans after sampling perfume. Perfect!