In all parts of this fair world, the industrious writer faces distractions. As I sat down at my desk this afternoon I was more conscious than ever of the sound of crickets. I first noticed their ceaseless chirruping, of course, upon my arrival. I did not remark on it, but registered it nonetheless, marking it down as one of the more notable differences between my old home and my new. At the same time I presumed I would soon get used to it.
That is almost, but not exactly, the case. The sound is now a familiar one; as familiar as the buzzing of electrical cables, or starlings playing on the roofs. Yet I would hesitate to say that it has become mere background noise. For crickets are never easy to ignore. Their song remains the same, but the tone and volume has a tendency of shifting subtlety. Just when you think you’ve got them pegged, they move into another gear. The chirping changes. New crickets move into the vicinity and raise the chorus to a new level. The chatter rises and falls, folds and unfolds, rolls and, when you least expect it, relents.
Crickets never really stop: the industrious writer grasps this early on. They keep on humming, day and night. They always have something to say, and it isn’t always nice to hear. On certain days their tune has about it a wistful melancholic air. On others it buzzes vibrantly, like a happy refrigerator. More often than not, however, it drones like the lawnmower of a zealous gardener. You want to shut it out, but you can’t. The only thing to do is to accept that it is there, that it will always be there, and that if you wait long enough, it will probably move into another register: not distinctly different, but never quite the same.
As with the crickets, so with the critics. They will always be with us, muttering and moaning, grousing and grumbling, objecting and opposing. You can’t pretend to drown them out entirely. At the very least, though, you can accept their awkward, eternal presence, and enjoy those brief moments in which their murmur becomes music.