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Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Karen Ranney speaks on Word Noise


When I finish working for the day I’m exhausted. I’ll avoid the phone and anything that requires me to talk to another human being because I don’t want to hear anything else. Keep in mind, however, that I haven’t actually spoken to anyone all day – I’ve been working.

When I read, I hear the words in my mind. When I write, I hear words in the same way. I hear the rhythm of them, the cadence of them, and the music of them. I hear thoughts exactly the same way I hear words and at the end of the day I’m tired of word noise.

I once mentored some adults who were learning to read. One gentleman in particular always remains in my mind. He was in his sixties and wanted to learn to read so that he could read stories to his grandchildren. He sounded out the words aloud, and even after he became more proficient, continued to do so. One day he finally confided in me the reason why. “I don’t like to hear the words in my head,” he said.

Do you think that people who like to read have somehow become accustomed to the “words in their head”? Or that it’s a comforting feeling, something they crave? Is that the reason why, in one family, one child may love to read and another avoid it like it’s peas or broccoli?

Do writers hear too many words in their head? Are we poor souls who have to have some place to put all these words or we’ll go a little nuts?

When circumstances do prevent me from writing, even for a day or two, it’s like putting a car on blocks and revving the engine. In other words, the brain doesn’t stop manufacturing stories; it just lacks an acceptable creative outlet for them. So, the mole becomes cancer, the toenail fungus - leprosy, the late phone call – an accident, and the noncommittal response – something’s horribly, terribly, awfully wrong.

My family and friends have pleaded with me to always keep writing; it’s the only way to cope with the word noise in my head without driving them nuts.

*Post a comment to this blog post for your chance to win a signed copy of THE SCOTTISH COMPANION as well as THE DEVIL WEARS TARTAN * The Devil Wears Tartan will be mailed in October.


Mad said...

I recently read TDWT for my book club read and I loved it. Can't wait to get together with the other ladies and talk about it. :)

Joy said...

Love your books and can't wait to read the newest. I think it is great that you have helped adults learn to read. That is a gift that just keeps on giving. I hope you continue to write for a long time too!

Pam P said...

Interesting topic, Karen. Now as I'm reading this, I'm paying attention and hearing the noise in my head, lol, never dwelled on that before. Can't wait to read your latest.

WK said...

great post Karen!!!

I loved the new book and also can't wait to discuss it with Mad in our book club.


Karen Ranney said...

Y'all (a little Texas lingo) are so nice. My literacy work was fascinating and so rewarding. It is truly frightening, however, to know that a great many of our citizens either can't read or choose not to do so.

To me, a life without books would be dull and boring.

Warm fuzzies!


catslady said...

Very interesting. Has anyone read The New Earth by Eckert Tolle? He says the voices in the head are a brain dysfunction (at least the negative voices). I would think if you can make a story out of those voices it's a very good thing

Angela S. said...

I've always been fascinated by words and the way they come together. When I was in school, I would look around my classrooms and write down words, poems, even whole sentences in my journal. All these years later, I understand what I didn't understand then--I love words! That's got to explain why I am such an avid reader!