Webster defines white noise as: noun-acoustical or electrical noise in which the intensity is the same at all frequencies within a given band.
Most people, like yours truly, defines white noise as any kind of sound that is soothing to the ears, relaxing to the soul, or to state it more accurately, a sound that becomes so ingrained in our day-to-day activities that when we don't hear it, we often find that our day-to-day activities are somehow incomplete.
Now I'm sure you're asking the computer screen, "G, what does this have to do with writing?"
And I'm sure that you'll be wanting an answer to that burning-without-a-flame question.
And you know darn well that if I don't answer that question then this post will come to a screeching halt and I'll be forced to write on the fly about my first self-pubbed work, and I don't want to write on the fly because I suck at writing on the fly.
Anywho, I've had a lot of white noise during my day-to-day activities and up until very recently, none has made it into my writings. Until I came aboard for my second stint of state employment after being laid off in 2003, the main irritant that my white noise contained, was emergency sirens. Between the heavy dose at home (lived within a one mile radius of the highway, firehouse, two homeless shelters, three bars and a sleazy motel) and at work (hospital), the sirens quickly turned into a very tasteless running joke:
"Listen, must be a dead body run!"
That all changed once I returned to full time employment in 2004.
2004 is when I first heard Spanish being spoken in an office environment. I've always heard Spanish before, back when I used to work in retail, but I never heard on the scale that I encountered at the particular agency I was residing in (Corrections).
While I may have gotten my first taste of it there, it really came at me full bore once I transferred to my current place of residence (Children & Families). Working in such an environment where more than half of the office staff were bilingual, in no time at all Spanish became my white noise.
My white noise became such an integral part of my work environment that on the days when certain staff members were at other offices, I actually became a little disoriented. Really. It's like going through a bad withdrawal, only instead of food or drugs, it's Spanish.
Because of the pervasiveness of Spanish in my day-to-day work activities, it was inevitable that it would bleed into other aspects of my life.
I've toyed with the idea of adding this particular element to my stories for quite sometime, but up until now, the problem was how to add it to a story without having the story being compromised or the addition misconstrued, or worse, completely losing the reader and/or writer (yes, I used it in a short story called "Saturday" and I didn't keep the original sentences that were translated, thus severely screwing up the story).
With my latest writing project, "Dandelion Tears", I believe I found the perfect story to add Spanish into the mix without compromising the integrity of the story. Because the story has such a heavy fantasy element to begin with, I felt that having one of my main characters speaking Spanish would compliment the overall flavor of the story. I also felt that Spanish was a language that should always be associated with power and strength, which was always the underlying reason as to why I never really used it in my previous stories.
Two significant problems immediately arose from this particular decision: how to write it and how to format it. Formatting was the easy part, once I figured through trial and error that it was a lot less confusing (at least for me looking at it from a reader's point of view) to have both the Spanish version of the dialogue and the English version (italicized) of the dialogue standing next to each other.
Writing was the difficult part, which I was able to solve by using a good translation tool put out by Yahoo called Babel Fish (which if you can believe, has been around since Al Gore invented the Internet. seriously, this particular website has been around since I started using a computer for work, which was 1996). Also found that it was easier to translate smaller blocks of text (like sentences as opposed to long paragraphs), and I also found it was easier to copy and paste than try to write it exactly as it was translated.
In any event, I've been careful enough not to go hog wild in using Spanish in my story, as I only keep it to the bare minimum of whenever my main female character needs to talk to her servants, who are from South America and choose not to speak English.
So Spanish is what I chose from my real world to be a semi-permanent fixture to my current and future writings, and so far, it has worked out to the way I envisioned: An addition that works when it isn't overused to the extent of losing a reader.
So how about you? Is there an element from your real world that you chose to integrate into your writings so as to make them uniquely yours?