Q&A With Cynthia Ruchti

Cynthia RuchtiMichelle:  Thank you so much for taking the time out of your busy writing schedule to talk with me about your book, The Song of Silence. I’m going through my own batch of silence, and your book was such a gift in helping me to recognize and think through my measure of quiet.  

One of the themes of Song of Silence is the idea that the rests just like notes are a part of the greater song of our lives, and that the LORD is the one that has composed the piece.   

In a piece of music, pauses and silences are recognized as part of the larger score, and the musician can see when their part in the symphony will begin again.  They have the ability to see past the quiet and know when the waiting will end.

It’s different for us, however. Christ doesn’t grant us the same panoramic view of our lives as a musician has of a music folio. Often when silence enters our lives through loss, like the one Lucy experiences, the lack of sound can be deafening and hope-eating.  Have you ever found yourself, like Lucy, suddenly struck dumb by a “silencing loss”?  What one thing did you do to see past the “rest measure”?

Cynthia:  One of the verses from the Bible that I memorized as a child was “In quietness and confidence is your strength.” That’s Isaiah 30:15, actually 15b, the second half of the verse. The beginning of the verse is equally simple yet dramatic in its effects. “In return and rest you will be saved; quietness and trust will be your strength…” (CEB version).

These words were first spoken to a weary, beleaguered, defeated group of people. They weren’t told to “buck up” or “dig in” or “Let’s get some noise up in here!” Instead, the words were rest, return, quietness, trust (confidence), strength…

If we keep reading in that passage, we’ll find life lessons that could figuratively blow our hair back. After God’s message to return to Him, rest in Him, listen to the quiet, and trust Him, we read, “But you refused.”

What? Who would do that? Oh. Us.

“You said, ‘No! We’ll flee on horses” (vs. 16). That sounds a lot like the way we so often opt for flailing and screaming rather than resting, investing in the rest or pause.

When my husband’s job was eliminated at age 64, our initial instinct might have been to panic, manufacture solutions, let anger move in. That was quickly replaced with this potent reminder that our strength wasn’t going to come from manufactured solutions. It never comes from anger. And panic would profit nothing.

So we rested in the knowledge that God is a faithful provider, no matter what we see happening around us. We’re still resting in that, even as we wait for the rest of the story.

Michelle:  Lucy has an amazing husband in Charlie; but an amazing husband who is sharing space with her twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, is an unexpected challenge in her foray into this unwanted rest.   Charlie’s loving, supportive, and attentive. He also has some things in common with Job’s friends, managing to say things that add to Lucy’s unrest rather than ease it. 

It takes her counselor, Dr. Hanley’s gentle nudges, to show Lucy that Charlie isn’t the entire problem.  How she communicates with him is a large chunk of it.  I loved how you had Dr. Hanley put the idea of talking truthfully in love; hemmed Honesty.  Speaking the truth with no ragged (unloving) ends exposed.  What is one tip you can give to readers who like Lucy, want to practice speaking Hemmed Honesty with their spouses and families?

Cynthia:  Timing. Timing. Timing. Depending on our individual personalities, which are rarely identical for a husband and wife, one of us—usually me (I mean, the wife)—may want to tackle the issue head on when it first appears. It took a decade or two…maybe three…of marriage for me to realize that what I said was important. How I said it was important. But if the timing were wrong, saying the right words the right way would still build a wall rather than a bridge in our relationship. I think in three-point plans. My husband ponders a topic for three days before he can respond to it. Neither method is wrong. But learning that dance, and being willing to wait the three days, changed so much in our communication successes. As a side note, when his ideas don’t feel threatened, it doesn’t always take him the whole three days anymore. And I can see his side, his angle, his viewpoint more readily.

Michelle:  In Song of Silence, Lucy finds out that her son is not only serious about a young lady, but going to marry her.  Marry her the weekend following the day that he tells her and Charlie that he’s serious about her. That weekend.  Oh, and by the way, his lovely bride has a little boy Evan meaning Lucy and Charlie are instant grandparents. Sasha is deaf.  Her son Evan has Asperger’s.  I wanted to hold my breath in the silence as I read that very tight paragraph. This wasn’t the book I thought I was going to be reading; it was a whole lot more complex and intriguing.

Pauses in a musical score can add drama to the coming notes, and they can also signal a mood shift, this particular passage in Song of Silence does both for the reader.  Do you find that writing stories and scoring music share some of the same tricks of communication with the audience?  If there was going to be a soundtrack for this particular paragraph, what piece of music would it be?

Cynthia:  Tongue-in-cheek, I was going to say, “The opening notes of the musical score from Jaws.” It certainly wouldn’t be The Sound of Music’s “The hills are alive…” The story’s tension ramped up like a crescendo in music. I can imagine the sound of a tympani beat increasing in volume and velocity, violins moving from slow draws with their bow to rapid, staccato notes. The paragraph formed a startling turn of events, but rather than being in a whole different key, it was further intensity in the same key of disbelief and emotional chaos. Lucy—as skilled as she was musically—couldn’t imagine how the cacophony she heard could ever become a song. Then came quieter passages. Then a cymbal crash that changed the tone again. Like life.

Michelle:  Thank you again, Cynthia, for writing Song of Silence, and for spending time with me and the readers of Straight off the Page!  Before we close this interview, would you tell us what’s next for you book wise? What story is waiting to come out of your fingertips and onto the page?

Cynthia:  I have buckets of story ideas clamoring for attention, like a six-burner stove with a stewpot on each burner, bubbling away. I stir and season. And then one day, the ingredient I was waiting for shows up in research of a life experience and that particular stewpot is moved to the front burner.

I’m writing a book of encouragement for those whose parents are aging right now for Worthy Publishing. It will release in 2017. I have another novel releasing with Abingdon Press in 2017. And this fall, another Christmas novella—Restoring Christmas—releases with Worthy Publishing.

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