Thursday, April 19, 2012

Q is for...Quiet by Cristina Rehn

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I'm very naturally a quiet person. Which is why the Lord must have laughed his butt off when he blessed me with three VERY loud children. Today, Cristina Rehn discusses quiet, a topic she thought of, oddly enough, in the hub-bub of Disney World. In my anything-but-quiet world, I am coming to appreciate silence more and more. See if you agree...

Q is for...Quiet by Cristina Rehn

Quiet. I knew right away that was my “Q” word when I signed up to be a guest blogger for Mysti. With my blog date coming on the heels of my return from a family spring break trip to Disney World, no other word would do.

Anyone who’s ever visited Disney knows that the theme parks are the anti-quiet. Quiet and Disney simply do not co-exist. Whether you’re in a hotel, a bus, a show or ride, you are constantly surrounded by noise. There’s music, always music, and people too. Laughing families. Crying, tired babies. Impatient, tired parents. Screaming teens on thrill rides. Professionally friendly, though occasionally tyrannical, “cast members”, which is the name by which all Disney staff are known. Recorded, cheerful talking voices on the buses instruct you on the rules for using the Disney transport system and to just relax and have fun. The only completely silent beings at Disney seem to be the characters who mime their way through entertaining visitors, posing for pictures and signing autographs. Were it not for fact that they’re entombed in heavy costumes in the Florida heat, I suspect they’d be the envy of all the other cast members.

Lest you think the Magic Kingdom and its sister parks were less than magical for me, let me assure you that we enjoyed our visit. A Disney vacation is a blast: soundtrack, sore feet, sunburn and all. Still, the incessant noise wore us down. My husband, daughter and I are quiet people. We drove down from upstate New York, and passed much of the twenty plus hour trip in companionable silence - both ways. We’re happy to be home to listen to our own softer family sounds.  Our soundtrack is filled with rest notes, the quiet time built in.

As a writer, I need a place somewhere between Disney and the complete absence of any noise. Listening to real people and real sounds provides me inspiration and models for my writing. You need to hear the sound effects and the delighted voices of the riders, the whir and clang of the machinery, the laughter and the tears, the mix of languages and tones, to be able to describe the experience. But to transform it into the words and sentences that create a story, you need the quiet to hear it re-formed and created into something new inside your mind.  Quiet allows us to hear the unique voices of our characters and allows our readers to decide how they sound in their own heads. I suspect the creators of the Disney magic - animators, composers, engineers, costumers - dreamed, developed and designed much of it in quiet solitude, alone with their pencils, drafting tables and computers before coming together to share their visions. We need the silence, the blank paper, the empty screen, to create space for something new to emerge.

At some point, writers and other artists earned a reputation as recluses, isolated in attics and studios, shunning the rest of the world to be with their muses. Sure, it’s a stereotype, but I suspect it’s one created on purpose, so they could just have some quiet. In a world teeming with sound, that’s a precious thing.

Disney Street Party, 2012
Cristina Rehn lives in Upstate NY with her husband, daughter and mother.  A full-time job, a full-time family and two demanding cats don't leave much time for writing, so it's still a hobby. She hopes someday she'll shine and polish up something enough to be published, but for now she just enjoys learning from other writers about both the craft and the business. Her hobbies are writing and reading, and eking out as much solitude and silence as she can to do both.


  1. As a mother of three and a Florida resident I sooooo agree and love that you put into words how I as a writer turn down the sound and listen from outside the noise to wake up my muse. Well done!

  2. Spoken with clarity, cristina - I am also more of a quiet person, find noise easily overwhelming - but you state correctly that writers need some of that interaction to be able to convey real life in their stories, poems, and more.

    This sentence expresses a goal for me as a writer, and not just about sound but about the underbelly of sound, experience, personality -- life:

    "Quiet allows us to hear the unique voices of our characters and allows our readers to decide how they sound in their own heads."

    Glad I stopped by to read your post

  3. Cristina Rehn (Mamatua)April 19, 2012 at 8:04 PM

    Thank you both. Glad you enjoyed the post. I've been enjoying my quiet, letting some new voices emerge this week. Strangely, none of them sound like Mickey Mouse. ;)


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