Fear in Writing: Noise

Today in Literary History

Today in Literary History...December 14, 1907: Rudyard Kipling receives the Nobel prize for literature, the first English-language writer to do so.ud

Thursday, July 8, 2010


We are surrounded by sound...but also by noise.

My first draft of this post bitched and moaned about a couple of noisy kids and their inattentive mother.  Truly, they are very annoying beside me in the cafe.  But, they also made me realize there is a deeper issue here.  And that issue is the 'noise' of life.

Yesterday, I bitched and moaned to you about all the things I cannot do because of all the things I am doing.

Buck up, Michele--shut up and deal, Michele--you were probably thinking both of those things!!  And today, I admit I agree with you.

But one thing is unescapable when one is tuned in: the noise of life.  In a cafe, I have the noise of other's lives.  At home, I have the sometimes cheerful, sometimes whiny noise of my life.  At work, there is the noise of news and of need and of right now.  There is TV noise, radio noise, cooking noise, cleaning noise, and, of course, the noises in our heads.  The latter might be the toughest to overcome.

On The Colbert Report Tuesday, Stephen Colbert interviewed a Garret Keizer, who was promoting his book, The Unwanted Sound of Everything We Want: A Book About Noise.  My husband and I laughed at how ridiculous the guy was, and how out of sorts Colbert was at trying to interview the man.  It was pretty damn funny.  However, it turns out the guy is actually a contributing editor of Harper's Magazine and a very published guy.
So maybe there is something to this unwanted sound theory...

How do we block out the noise of distraction, and allow in the sound of life?

What noise could you do without?


  1. Michele - What a great question! There is, to me, a great difference between sound (which can be delicious - like birds, a favorite song, your child's laughter, a beloved friend's voice on the 'phone - and noise. I love sound, but I'm right there with you about noise. I try to spend time with myself early in the morning before anyone else gets up to get my dose of peace and silence. It doesn't always work, but it does help. Oh, so do headphones and I-pod.

  2. I live in a small city. The only noise I would love to do without -- blaring music(?) from cars at 2a.m.!

    Giggles and Guns

  3. I find some days it's impossible to concentrate around too much unwanted noise but usually I can block it out (when it's not too loud). Recently, we've had noisy pavement repair work going on during the day in our street and I would not be coping without music, my ipod and listening to podcasts/audiobooks.

  4. I can usually block out most noise - I'm a teacher :) I like the kids working together in class, so I get used to a constant hum of noise. Then at home there are teenagers :)

  5. Three young women (my daughters) who seem to make more and more noise the older they get.
    Either that or my tolerance is diminishing.

  6. I could do without the noise about conflicting opinions of myself. Weird!

  7. hmmm...if I'm good and OK with myself there is very little noise that bothers me - if I'm out of sorts there is very little I can tolerate therefore for me - it is my mind not the noise I must work with. My rooster crows at 4AM. I love it. The noises of nature I love - the noise of ATVers whining through the woods makes me crazy. I love the loon call but not the sea-doo. I love Neko Case singing 'John Saw the Numbers' but not the dog moaning about a walk...

  8. That's why I play the guitar - it's the one moment I can block out all other sounds and just relax.

  9. Margot- I love the early morning time as well. But my favorite is late at night, when everyone else is asleep. Maybe it's b/c I have kids, but there seems to be a deeper silence then.

    Mary- Even small cities have their own din. I live in a suburb (feels like a country town to me!), and I hear the cars, the train, etc. Those aren't always "noise," per se, but they are sound. And the noise of life interferes sometimes, no matter where you live, even if it is internal.

    Debbie- I need to get my iPod updated. Right now it's one of those tiny, workout ones and I can't do much with it. Music might help!

    Jemi- I'd imagine, as a teacher, you'd either have incredible tolerance, or a lower threshhold to the noise! Sounds like you have the higher tolerance. Good for you!

    Al- I'd imagine it's some of both. :) Though, my tolerance went UP when I had kids.

    Julie- Personally, I like debate and conflicting opinions. But argument...that's a whole different story.

    Jan- See! You have perfectly parsed your beloved "sounds" and the "noise" around you.

    Alex- Aaaahhh..something else I need to learn! Great!

  10. I would love to be able to utilize a negativity filter and block out anything negative. *sigh*

  11. I like quiet. If I turn on the TV for background noise, that's okay, but if DH has it blasting in the living room while he's watching a movie, I can't think.

    If I'm working on something that doesn't require analyzing and plotting, I can have soft music playing, but not when I need to concentrate.

    So...it all depends.

  12. DL- Wouldn't we all...

    Helen- I agree: my own noise is different from other people's.

  13. If you find out how to block out the noise, please let me know. When I really want to do it, I can, but most of the time, I think I don't want to do it.