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Mileposts in the Distance – Radio Silence

Note from Stacey: Every Thursday we’re thrilled to offer Laura’s Mileposts in the Distance column. You can read more about Laura below.

Dear Laura,

It finally happened, right?  There’s nothing to say.  There are no thoughts to share.  You’re sitting there, trying to translate what isn’t in your head to your fingers to the screen.

And you’ve got Nothing.

Oh, and you never will have a coherent, writable series of thoughts again.  Like ever.

Sure there are fragments of what could coalesce into something interesting whirling around your head. There are lots of them, coated in a miasma of dust from the hot, hot summer.  No, wait those were Arizona thoughts.  These thoughts are getting mossy from rain and humidity and unrelenting summer.   All of them are scrambling about in your brain looking for purchase and the chance to wave madly, saying “I’m the pearl of wisdom, pick me, pick me!”

It’s a shame, really.  It all came so easily for 62 weeks – except when it didn’t.  So maybe it came in a stream that went from a flood to a trickle at times, but there was moisture at least, right?  It’s a shame that it’s all dried up.

Now there are only the dying echoes of interesting thoughts – hollow and tinny and just beyond your reach.  Mocking you, really, to say you’ve emptied out the best of the ideas and it’s time to pack up the orchestra and go home.

But do you really want anything to stick right now?  Should you force those fragments to the surface before they are ready?   Can’t there be a time to say, “I need some quiet to give things space to ripen and until they are ready.”

I know you really want to say “No! Quiet is not a good thing.  I have to fill the space, overwhelm the senses with words of such potent beauty that they make the reader weep with joy and understanding! That’s the understanding between me and the reader!”

But Laura, if there’s no joy beneath the work of the writing it’s a hollow victory to fill the pages with words that just don’t work.

I get it: you’re not a fan of summer and we are smack in the middle of one that teased us early on with cooler, drier air than has been seen in a North Carolina June for a long time.  Then the calendar changed and summer took our collective legs out with brutal efficiency and heat.  It will take until September to recover.

But you know what summer is.  Beyond the discomfort lies a stillness that masks all the work of growing and ripening.  And you know that the harvest following summer is the time of year you actually feel alive after the enervating days and months of heat and stillness.

Perhaps, right now, you are supposed to let the thoughts settle and find their own way to the top, rather than plucking one before it hits the right notes in flavor and texture.  Perhaps it’s best to honor the silence, relearn how to be still in it and actually revel in the quiet.

And if you actually do all those things, the joy in the words (and the words themselves) will come back to reload the stream, fill in the echoing canyon and have you racing toward the next milepost.



Laura Reeth lives in Raleigh, North Carolina with the man of her dreams. With kids off at college, she no longer plays the role of active, day-to-day parent, and has moved into the complex understanding-parent-of-nearly-adult-children role. The main difference is she gets more sleep now.

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