The sound of silence

We are half way through the first week of the new term and already I have been reminded of at least one of the reasons I love my job. Over the Christmas break I read Sara Maitland’s A Book of Silence. It’s a meditation on the meaning of silence; whether as the absence of noise or as  something more powerful and positive. Sara has found her own silence by living in a remote place. This week, I found mine in the writing classroom; that velvet sound you hear when a group of people start to write. It’s the sound of concentration and focus, accompanied by the scratching of pens and pencils on paper. Sometimes there is a soft clicking when someone is using an electronic device, although I notice that those with touch screens really are silent, unless the writer has ornate fingernails. As I sit keeping watch over the time and observing the writing in the room I am rarely aware of noises from outside. It’s as if we exist in a cocoon; and yet I know that the heads I can see bowed over notebooks and pads around the table are full of noise. I can see the hurry to get words from thought to page and the busy fingers pushing pens along. I know that when the silence is broken it will be my voice that says ‘one more minute… get to a place where you can pause for now…’. I know that once I have spoken the silence will become filled with voices reading from the page and the murmuring of others as they listen and consider what is being read for the first time. I love this productive, fertile silence. I’m grateful to Sara Maitland for encouraging me to consider it. 

4 Comments on “The sound of silence”

  1. Roz Cawley

    Oh, thats a wonderful place to be – as a faciltator, in the intent silence of a room full of writers. Sacred space indeed.
    I’m half way through Sara Maitland’s book on Silence (you have rerminded me I was reading it before Christmas – it has been put to one side!) and I have her latest one (from my Christmas list, and under the tree for lucky me 🙂 )
    Also sitting on my shelf, ready to read.
    Great blog post – thank you!

    1. joinedupwriters

      Roz, it was wonderful to read this book over the break and to find a little place of calm and contemplation in between the conviviality and enjoyment of company. I find that the balance between noise and quiet is very necessary!

  2. 6vicky7

    One of my favourite books, and writers. And that group silence in a wriiting workshop is very special, energised and exciting.

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