Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Give Me My Silence

I cannot write with music playing.  On a good day, I can block out the sound of the television--but definitely not the television and the dishwasher and kids playing.  My brain can only block out so much, and then it all comes crashing in, overwhelming me, suffocating me.  Apparently, it is a form of Auditory Processing Disorder. 

I have always known that I was not an auditory learner.  I need to see things, to touch things in order to properly commit them to memory.  Things that I merely hear quickly evaporate into the ether--not because I am not listening, or because I do not care, but because that is how my brain works. 

But things I read or write...well, they are ingrained in my mind for all time.

I never noticed a problem with this while in school.  I never received low grades or strained to learn.  No, I always took meticulous notes and read and re-read them.  I never sat still during lectures; instead, I spent the hours scribbling away the key bits so I could commit them to memory later.  Apparently, even at an early age, I found a work-around--without ever even realizing it.  Perhaps I simply knew my strengths. 

I grew up in a very quiet house.  A product of the 70s, I was a "latch key kid" and spent a lot of time alone.  Alone was quiet.  So, I only realized I had a problem later in life, when my three kids became old enough to create a constant low-roar in our home.  This--combined with the rattle of the dishes washing, the churn of the laundry swishing around the washing machine, the clatter of cats chasing one another through the house, and the hum of the television that no one seemed to be watching--it all seemed...too muchIt was overwhelming. 

Strange that so many noises, which if taken on their own might be considered soothing, or lulling, when combined seem to rankle, to jar, to agitate.  Yet, they do...for me at least.

When people talk about listening to music when they write, I shudder as I imagine one more noise that I must try to block out in order to hear my own thoughts.

By all means, crank up the music if that helps you.  But for me...give me my silence.  The quiet of a cold winter's night, the gentle whispers of my characters, and the tapping of my keys to keep me company while.  Somewhere, in another room, the rhythmic breathing of sleeping children can be heard faintly. 

This gentle, near-silence surrounds me with peace.

What about you?  Do you listen to music when you write?