Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Searching for the perfect white noise

Okay, so I still can't find the stupid Baldwin short story. One day I will. Or I'll just break down and buy the collection it's in and be done with it.

Anyway, I've decided I need to retire ocean side (I'll go "downey ocean" as they say in these parts of Bawlmer). Really. I seem to get a good deal of substantial writing done while there. Amazing, since usually when I'm there longer than a few hours, it's in a condo with nine other people, all of whom are related to me. Which is not exactly the best environment for quiet contemplation. I also tend to do things like eat M&Ms for lunch, which, I'm guessing, isn't conductive to creativity either. But who knows. I actually kind of think it's because I'm usually in a state of sensory overload that I'm able to retreat and concentrate (it's a defense mechanism, I'm pretty sure).

I can't write in complete silence, but too much noise or noise that's too familiar is just as distracting. My ears are too spazzy, too easily seduced by an interesting topic or a much-loved melody to be able to concentrate on the task at hand. I've tried playing music that's completely foreign as background noise. It works for a while. Until either the music becomes more familiar, or I hit a wall in the writing, and I start looking for distractions.

But here's the thing: Waves, like the kind you commonly find at the beach, don't have that effect (affect? I can never remember which. I'll look it up later) on me. I can sit by the coast all day and not once will I be distracted by the noise from waves crashing on the beach.  It's a damned-near perfect white noise machine. It's a hell of a lot more pleasing to the ear (in an unconscious way, naturally) than tv static (and way less little-girl-with-long-hair-in-her-face-is-going-to-jump-out-and-kill-you, too). Which I can't get anyway now that everything's digital (and that silent blue screen you get now is just creepy. Like HAL 9000's weird older brother, Todd. It just stares at you. <shudder>). The other eleventy billion people on the beach with me don't really bother me, either. Which is strange, if you know me. Because even really nice and conscientious people bother me most of the time. But for some reason, when I'm there, I'm focused. I do tend to write about the beach more--I mean, there's tons of themes in there, right? Themes that have been written to death, mind you. But I write when I'm there. The details are insignificant. :)

The key is the waves. They're perfect. They're pleasing to the ear, but not intrusive. They're constant, but not really rhythmic (so there's no pattern for my ears to latch on to). And, you know. it's the beach. I think I should retire there. Like tomorrow.


  1. hahahaha! totally reminded me of the News Radio epidose where Dave is all stressed out and Joe builds him a white noise machine. this is the whole episode, and well worth the watch, but here are the key scenes:

  2. Bobbi, when you retire, hope your beach house has lots of guest bedrooms.

  3. i am dumb. i forgot to post the link to that News Radio episode, appropriately titled Noise: