|Noisy writing, courtesy of the washing machine.|
Photo | Elizabeth King Humphrey
That is the image that came to mind when I read the article "A New, Noisier Way of Writing" by Anand Giridharadas in The New York Times. The article details how isolated Jonathan Franzen must be to write. Giridharadas contends that image of writers is an old one, but that we find many disruptions these days and our culture has become much more fast paced in recent years.
That's where the washing machine came to mind. As the article makes its way around to other slow and deliberate writers (Walt Whitman and V.S. Naipaul), I wondered if these writers ever thought that their writing could be produced in cycles: first solitude, then a bit of noise and without interacting with their readers. (Giridharadas mentions Paulo Coelho, Teju Cole, and Salman Rushdie who take the opposite approach by tweeting and appear less isolationist.)
I agree that writing deserves some solitude. However, more importantly, I feel that you can create good writing within a spin cycle. Or a combination of these: A shushing wash and soak in between the thundering spin. A delicate wash some days will do just fine.
When I worked in a newsroom I embraced all the hustle and bustle you can imagine. You get used to it, adapting to the busiest of days and the slowest of hours. Because I am now so accustomed to distractions and noise (a car engine revs, my children's audiobook or music, the creaks of our old home...or even the washing machine going full throttle), there are times my writing craves the slight noise that reminds me of a sense or an idea.
Maybe this environment will assist me with my writing; maybe it will hinder it. I guess my readers will be the judge of that. Unfortunately, at this moment, I don't have an isolation tank to retire to with pen and paper in hand. So, I am all about noisy writing.
In the end, I agree with Giridharadas that there is a place for those who work in solitude, but I wouldn't be surprised if there were a lot of us who don't.
How do you write best--in complete solitude or with noises? Do you think only the best writing can come from a writer who has a quiet place?
Elizabeth King Humphrey is a writer and editor living in a rather lively (read: noisy) home in Southeastern North Carolina.