Some writers need music, others need silence; I need company. Last week I spent four days in a remote part of south Jersey with a fellow writer, Elena Santangelo. We had no TV, no Internet, no distractions, whatsoever. Even the birds were quiet, or had vanished to warmer climes.
Elena adopted the front room. I took over the middle room. The kitchen was the common room where we met for meals, and we were allowed to talk. Somehow the presence of another writer working in close proximity spurs me on like nothing else. Maybe it’s my competitive spirit, or maybe the fever of industry is contagious. I’m not sure. All I know is – it works for me. I get twice as much writing done, when I have another writer’s company.
Of course, there were other incentives. I knew I would be interrogated at the next meal about how much I’d accomplished. Fear and guilt played a part. Also, the silence and absence of distractions, didn’t hurt. South Jersey in winter is even quieter than in summer. The traffic passing the house is minimal. No farm equipment rattles or clanks, no bikers zoom, no tourists troll on bicycles or stroll on foot. An occasional pick-up or mail truck are the only moving objects. Even the bands of wild turkeys have disappeared.
Nature itself has conspired to keep distractions to a minimum. The trees, whose leaves in the fall and blossoms in the spring cry out for attention, are gone. Bare trunks and branches are the only decoration in sight. An occasional silver sycamore – may catch the eye. They are more beautiful in winter than in summer. But that’s about it. Everything else – woods, fields, creeks, are some blah shade of grey, black or brown. Except the sky. The sunrise and sunset in winter seem even more vivid than the rest of the year. To remind us that the vigor of nature is still around, lying dormant temporarily, near the surface – resting up – ready to burst forth in a month or two in all its glory!
Meanwhile, Elena and I will keep writing.