Friday, August 23, 2013

Are You Getting Enough Listening Time in Your Life? The Value of Silence for Book Writers

I've been reading a wonderful book this week, by writer Terry Tempest Williams, called When Women Were Birds:  Fifty-Four Variations on Voice. 

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.

I'm reading this amazing book while retreating at a cabin in the mountains.  I give myself this retreat time each August.  I allow myself as much silence as possible. 

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.