Sounds Around Us

This afternoon I went swimming. As I was changing in the locker room, a couple of women were talking a few bays over. I couldn’t hear what they said, but the rhythm of their speech showed excitement.

When I walked out on the pool deck, there was no sound even though there were two men swimming. They were both doing the breast stroke, the quietest stroke of them all. But then I got in the pool, and despite the cap pulled over my ears, I heard the swoosh, swoosh sound of my hands pulling.

A really fast swimmer got in the middle lane. Now there was a pounding as his mighty kick thrust him forward through the water.

Right now I am sitting by my front window. The dog across the street is barking incessantly, an annoying whoop, whoop that does not change in intensity.

Some kids just came home from school. With the beautiful sunshine all around them, they are full of energy. Their high-pitched voices echo through the courtyard.

And now the ice cream truck comes, its annoying repetitive jingle playing over and over in an endless loop.

Your task is to close your eyes and listen. Write about what you hear, as descriptively as possible. Keep at it for at least an hour. Pay attention to the tiniest details. There is no sound too small, too high pitched, too filled with layers upon layers for you to notice.

Do this on a different day, at a different time. Record what you hear. Don’t worry about sight, taste, smell, feel. Only sound.

Return to your journal on a weekend, at night, one week later, a month later, during a different season. Fill your folder with as many distinct sounds as possible.

Why? When you write your next story, you will have an index of sounds for the varied places that you have visited. These sounds are your library.

Have fun with this one!

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