Wednesday, May 29, 2013

City Living: Alienation, Connection, and Finding Moments of Silence

Probably because I've been working on my second Minx graphic novel and am hypersensitive to dialogue, I've been thinking about the tone in which we speak to one another, sculpting ideas.  How much cadence, subtext, and insinuation differ region to region. Some aspects of our interactions are akin to foreign languages that cannot be easily translated.

There are days when I want to actually draw what I am trying to convey with a Sharpie marker on a piece of paper rather than describing it (a killer PowerPoint presentation also works wonders).  Especially when communicating to my artists things such as the sky in Dreamtime is purple, or the way a character's posture is transformed after a harrowing battle or emotional betrayal.  When dialogue is needed to drive the plot forward versus mandatory silence accompanied by strong visuals.

Andrea Grant photographed by Gigi Stoll 2012: "Shadow Series".
I've lived in tiny towns and tremendous cities, with New York being the most extreme version of them all.

Initially, when I moved here, I found it odd how the neighbors would ignore each other in the laundry room, making vague, surreptitious eye contact, ignoring acquaintances walking down the street because they are in too much of a rush to stop and chat (I am always polite over laundry, but I've been guilty of the latter). 

How people choose their need for silence in certain moments above social niceties is fascinating.

In a place that's so physically crowded that you have to wrestle for space in order to breathe, it's imperative to go inward.  A lot of people vanish into the mythology of their own veneer, building their boundaries so high that no one can see them. Others don't have enough of a barrier put in place, and their vulnerability seems agonizing.  Finding balance is an intricate dance.

One of my favorite poems about the need for solitude is by Leonard Cohen:    


I have a lot of moments of practically turning my skin inside out in order to enter that nether region of uninterrupted silence (I think writers have a particularly high need for isolation).  A city garden on a rainy day, a run on the beach in winter, or just staying inside the apartment for a few hours, listening to music in order to drown out the din of sirens and loud-talkers (few things are as terrible as someone yelling right outside your window about something dumb).

To replenish, I go home to Vancouver Island and take a walk in the cedar woods or a swim in the cold Pacific. The silence at night where stars are visible and the crickets sing have a long-lasting impact that stays with me in Manhattan.  

Where do you find your silence?  


2 comments:

billy pilgrim said...

i find silence walking my dog before sunrise.

Sir Eric said...

To write I can't have silence. I actually need noise. Not interaction but I have found that I can go to a lace like a mall. Put my head hones on so that the world gets ignored and I can write.

However for those times when I need to be on my own and actually cut off from the world. I like the off hours. I have gone for walks early in the morning. before most people are awake. A couple of times I have done hour long walks at 2 in the morning. Sometimes I need the solitude.