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Sounds Like . . .

December 12, 2017

We are bombarded by sound almost constantly, especially if living in a large city. Cars, sirens, people talking and yelling. When working in an office, there is the background noise of constant conversation and the cacophony of phones ringing and computer keys clacking. If at home, it may be the insistent cries of a baby, children fighting, or the constant clamor of the TV. Lawn mowers and leaf blowers disturb quiet communities. Sometimes, we have to just shut it out in order to avoid becoming overwhelmed and distracted by relentless, often unwelcome sound.


And, then, it becomes habit. We stop listening. And then, we lose the ability to separate out the threads of beauty in the tapestry of sound that is all around us. As writers, that is tragic. When we lose any of our senses, the ability to hear, see, taste, touch, or smell, our writing becomes like watery oatmeal -- bland, unexciting, boring, unappealing. It may feed us information, but the life, the intensity of the situation, the sense of being present, and in the moment is lost.


So, turn off the sound when you must, but remember to turn it on every chance you get, to take in the sound of the 18-wheeler passing you on the freeway. How DID it sound?  Find the precise words to describe it. Practice listening to the laughter, the birds, your children splashing in the tub, and to the babel of the city during rush hour. Then try to describe those sounds with as many different, descriptive words as possible. Blow the dust off your thesaurus and develop your descriptive muscle.


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