When Terry's mother died, she left the legacy of several shelves of journals, and she asked Terry to read them after her death. Terry was astonished when she opened the first, the second, each journal, to find the pages were completely blank. When Women Were Birds is a meditation on the meaning of this extraordinary experience--and also on the value of silence, the blank page, in the life of a writer.
Silence means hearing the call of two pairs of nesting loons from the lake down from the cabin, the loud red squirrels and Blue Jays, the creak of trees in the wind, and the crackle of the fire in its old stone hearth in our cabin's main room.
Slowly, these sounds allow the silence in me to emerge. And with the silence, an emptiness that makes way for new ideas.
Original Writing Comes from Silence, Not Noise
If I allow the silence back, the ride smooths out.
Why do we avoid silence? It's not just from lack of time. Often, we are afraid of what waits inside the silence. What truths might we encounter when we listen deeply.
But if the words on the page get stale, if we begin to repeat ourselves unknowingly, if we lack original ideas or phrases or images, it may be that we've weaned ourselves away from the nourishment of retreat.
Your Weekly Writing Exercise
1. Make time for silence. It will take scheduling, most likely--booking an hour, a day, a weekend, a week Give your listening ear some time.