Thirsting for Silence

From “Author of the Week: Anne LeClaire,” The Week Magazine (April 10, 2009):

I am having a day of silence. If you were to run into Anne LeClaire on April 6, she wouldn’t talk to you, said Anne Stein in the Chicago Tribune. Every first and third Monday of every month, the Chatham, Mass., novelist carries a card that reads, “I am having a day of silence.” Don’t expect to get through to her by phone, either. On those days she also refuses to listen to the radio, watch television, or surf the Internet. “My single determination when I began was not to speak,” she says of a practice she first undertook 16 years ago. “But the more comfortable I became with silence, the more I thirsted for it, and the sounds I’d accepted unquestionably became noise.”

Listening Below the Noise In her new memoir, Listening Below the Noise, LeClaire admits that her experiment in playing mute at first annoyed her fisherman husband, said Julia McKinnell in Maclean’s. LeClaire points out now that her silence has saved him more spats than he knows. “How many times do we jump into an argument when, if we waited a day, our words would be tempered?” she says. Keeping mum apparently puts everything in perspective. “Much of what we think is urgent,” she says, “can wait a day or two.” She’s convinced that holding her tongue has also made her more creative and productive. Every day spent in silence is so energizing, she says, “I feel like I’ve been to a spa.”