Silence is golden but rare these days.
While I love living in bustling, lively Glasgow with its friendly, chatty inhabitants. it can be hard to find a silent place to write undisturbed. I’m always on the lookout for quiet corners where I can set up my laptop and lose myself in the world I’m creating. As a journalist, I’m used to busy newsrooms and constant interruptions and can cheerfully block out background noise to write a feature. But I can’t do this when I’m writing the first draft of a novel. That’s when I need complete silence.
Some authors like JK Rowling like to write in coffee shops, but I find them too distracting. Others, like Louise Welsh, hire artist’s studios. Another I know takes the train from Glasgow to London and back just to write. I tried this on a recent trip to Aberdeen but became engrossed in a fascinating conversation between two women about designer labels – conducted in the Doric.
Public libraries used to be a haven for writers seeking peace and quiet. The Gruffalo author Julia Donaldson likes to write at her local library. Remember all those fierce librarians who enforced silence? Well, that’s no longer the case. My local library does great work with children and puts on a homework club, free movie screening and a nursery rhyme session for mums and their tots. All to be applauded – but what a racket!
Even Glasgow’s wonderful Mitchell Library is a noisy place since it’s been modernised. Last time I was trying to write on its ‘silent’ study floor, the walls were leaking a thumping bassline from a dance competition in the theatre. I had to flee to my bolthole – the tenth floor of Glasgow University’s library. It’s a great place to concentrate, except during exam time when it’s impossible to find a seat. So, the hunt continues. I’ve recently found out that the Mitchell hires out silent study carrels and there’s a writers’ room at the CCA.
Anyone have any ideas? Or should I just buy a pair of noise-cancelling headphones?