Writing books often advise writers to find a quiet space to write, a silent house before dawn or after midnight, a favorite chair where you can write undisturbed, a chair to sit in the back of a café, or any other place where you can focus on your writing. Some writers go to great lengths to create a writing space and decorate it with books and pens and notepads and dictionaries.
Other writers think of a poem while crossing a busy road, or write in the still centre of the whirlpool of small children, or in the middle of a bustling, noisy, intrusive mall.
Then there are writers who complain, how can I write when there is so much noise and so many interruptions? I just can’t concentrate. I need a quiet place, that’s what I need. And they spend years looking for that silent spot and never find one. How can they find it?
Places are not quiet, you are.
Silence or thunderstorms are in your mind and not in those places. Words cannot flow when the mind is a spiraling swirl of anger and frustration, when thoughts circle round and round with the fierceness of birds of prey. What room does that leave for writing?
Quietude of mind is what you carry with you wherever you go, in the midst of the million passerbys of a city, on a crowded bus or train, or in a room full of loud voices.
The cities can be full but you must be empty.
The rooms can be occupied but you must be vacant.
The skies may be cloudy but yours must be an endless blue.
How can you write if your mind is one dark fog of rolling despair? How can you write when your stormy weather leaves not a crack for a ray of light? When your mind is full, the loneliest mountain will do nothing for you. All you will do is worry on the mountain and no words will grace your empty pages.
The only writing space a writer needs is within, in the quietude of mind, when you let the world go, and let the dark clouds drift away, and let your thoughts settle, slowly, like ripples on a pond. Slowly, the water becomes clear, slowly and silently, the water reflects the sky.
In that quiet place, inspiration comes. In the silence, poetry writes itself. In the openness, a flurry of writing pushes to be heard, to come out of the dark into the white. And there it is, your quiet place, right there in the middle of life, in the middle of the hustle and stress, in the middle of the war field of the world.
There are no quiet places for writers. You just have to make your own.