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  • Writer's pictureTracey Lee


I like silence. I’m perfectly happy in a world where I can hear my own heart beat and only distant environmental sounds that waft gently through open windows. This is how I write. No music, no interlopers, no extraneous noise making. Others, I know, like the stimulation of sound to evoke the writing muse. Not me…I need a hushed world that is infiltrated by the rapid click clacking of my keyboard. And I’m sure I’ve made this clear to my beloved family. I’m writing…please be quiet!! Or go out.

So why when at a crucial point in a difficult chapter did the following happen. A light and polite knock on the study door. He entered with all the trepidation of one who knew he was breaking the covenant between the writer and spouse. Even my best angry stare did not deter him. “This is just a quick question.” He hoped that by appealing to the brevity of the intrusion that I’d be appeased. In his hand he had a lovely framed print that had for many years been in our previous abode and was earmarked for reframing to ensure its loveliness could be preserved. It was, he insisted in hushed tones, going to be ruined if we didn’t put it up somewhere as there were too many other projects to be done before the refurbishment of art work. I agreed that it would be a good idea and terminated the conversation as a clear sign the room should now continue to contain one person.

But he had been given and inch and was now taking much more than a mile. He wandered, on tip-toe about the room but even with the punchy and stern hitting of keys I could still here the swoosh of his socks on the tiles. “Which wall?” I spun in my chair like a carnivore about to devour a small and unsuspecting meal. “Sorry, but which wall would you like it on?” I was thinking of nailing it to his forehead at this point in time. But I’m not completely unreasonable, all the time, and pointed belligerently to the wall closest to my computer (kept typing with right hand while pointing with left). Surely enough of a sign to cease the activity and sock shuffle away. Message received; he retreated leaving door open and picture propped up on my desk. But I was too engrossed in re-establishing the mood to project what this might mean. Sock noise evident at door again. Noise of measuring tape inching its way along the wall close to my head. Extended metal tape bends under a lack of support and slaps me in the face. Not once but three times. “Would you mind holding the end while I find the middle of the wall?” Would I mind!? Yes I mind but if it encourages you to stop this madness I’ll begrudgingly help. Minutes pass as the hanging spot is negotiated and the dot for the nail is drawn (after several writing implements failed).


Second exit. Picture left behind, I get up and shut the door thinking that the interruption was over. How foolish! Just as I’ve settled back in and re-read the paragraph I’ve just tried to write and typed the next two words the door opens again and he has reappeared. This time armed with a hanging hook and hammer. I’m thinking that he couldn’t possibly be going to hammer in the sanctum while I was writing. He surely knew the rules….he’d been given the look enough times. But sure enough that picture could not stay un-hung. The hammering commenced above my head. The art retrieved and placed. My fingers remained hovering over the keyboard like a virtuoso who had forgotten the first notes of her solo! I sigh with annoyance. It is a violent and temperamental exhalation. But he’s waiting for approval. The wait is long and strangely silent.

“Please stop, go away and let me have a little bit of quiet so I can write.” Many apologies, promises of returning to the monastic peace of the pre-art hanging disturbance. Shuffle of socks, door closed carefully so as to avoid ruffling the creative feathers any more. Silence re-established. Wafting sounds. Click clacking and heart beat in sync. Ah joy.

And then he starts the lawn mower. Paragraph remained unfinished.

I know those who create under these precise conditions will understand; to others this will seem like petulance. But if you are living with a ‘need silence to create person’ may I offer this little blog as well-meaning advice. Silence by its nature precludes hammering, garden machinery, loud music, mad dancing and sock shuffling.

You have been warned!!

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