“I don’t listen to music while writing; it seems to me I’m trying to make my own kind of music, and to have anything else going on is just noisy interference. Chang-Rae Lee, a Korean American novelist.
Mornings, I get my juices flowing by enjoying coffee with my spouse and then continuing to a tranquil space to write. It was 50-60 years ago in my collegiate and medical school days I recall fleeing to the hush of the library to focus.
We are all unique and no less an essayist than Malcolm Gladwell needs noise to write. When he first got to the New Yorker having been a journalist in a vociferous environment, they assigned him to a secluded office. He frequented cafes to obtain the turbulence level required to do his work.
Writing for some with melody, perhaps, is even more difficult than crowd noise. After all, neuroscientists documented that music affects a variety of places in the brain.
Maybe this is a part of it: “Music opens a path into the realm of silence. Music reveals the human soul in stark nakedness, as it were, without the customary linguistic draperies.” Josef Pieper, a Catholic philosopher important in the resurgence of interest in the thought of Thomas Aquinas in 20th-century philosophy.
As you sit on that continuum, here’s hoping regardless of the decibel level around you, that pandemics, daily concerns, and life’s sometimes precarious pathways don’t hinder your creativity. It is a glorious gift from God.
I am in the winter of my content and discontent. Many of us seniors are in the same condition. Perhaps all of us are.
My arthritis hurts as to be expected. My physicians, on rare occasions, scare the wits out of me, but, so far so good.
My real scars are from my first three decades. By the grace of God, I’ve worked through many of those problems. I still have miles to travel on that road.
As to the non-living, the New York Times obits for me are both fascinating bios and reminders that many people that would be my age are no longer with us. They can have their fame, I’ll take breathing.
H. Robert Rubin, a best-selling, Amazon memoirist, a novelist with a draft novelette in progress, and author of Look Backward Angel, How Did I Get Through This? and Please Save the Third Dance for Me, all available on Amazon
There are numerous people I have never met. They have shared an era in our beautiful and difficult planet with me. They remember the Cuban missile crisis of ’62 and the tragic Kennedy assassination of ’63. My fellow passengers watched the Fab Four in ’64 introduced to Americans by that stoop-shouldered host on that cold winter’s night.
They are a different bunch. Though I haven’t met most of them, I know their psyche was affected by the last American draft in those same 60s. It was only a matter of degree. They have a unique sense when they gaze upon the Vietnam Memorial.
We’ve shared a lot. What we have shared with certainty, thank God, is a long life.
“I believe that all fiction is personal and all writing is at some level personal. As you may know, my motto is: ‘All memory is fiction. It could just as easily be: ‘All fiction is memory’. Unpacked, these two statements defy the ease of logic, but offer some really important truths about narrative art, at the very least, and about memory. So I would say that all art is personal.” Kwame Dawes, a Ghana-born poet, actor, editor, critic, and musician, who grew up in Jamaica.
It makes sense. I have shared with a sibling drafts of my memoirs. That sibling disagreed with my recall more than I expected. The spirit of an event can be recalled, but the details get sketchier. I believe surveys of witnesses after an event have verified that.
As for fiction, I have feared for years the idea of writing fiction. However, it is in essence based on memory. In a sense, it is easier to write. It shocked me to see how the draft of my novelette flowed in just a few days. Life is full of surprises, few of which are chocolates.