A fellow writer challenged me recently to engage more of my senses in what I write. She commented that I draw a lot on the seen world, but not much on the other senses.
I read over some of what I’ve written, especially the pieces she is familiar with, and realized that she is absolutely right.
So I spent the day today trying to use my sense of smell more. I inhaled subtle odours more deeply and endured the discomfort of noxious ones more readily, convincing myself that I was suffering for the sake of my art.
I thought about how nothing brings back memories as easily as smells do. Like those moments when a heavily perfumed elderly lady walks by and all you can think of is Aunt Ethel grabbing your eight year old cheeks. Or how the aroma of shortbread cookies in the oven takes you back to that Christmas you were finally old enough to help with the baking for the family get-together.
Today was perhaps the first time I ever regretted that I don’t cook. I miss out on regularly experiencing the waft of cilantro simmering in curry, and the sweetness of caramelizing onions. There’s nothing quite like the smell of home cooking- take-out and Ichiban don’t quite have the same effect.
As I focused on experiencing life more fully from a sense I usually don’t pay much attention to, I gained a stronger appreciation for the richness constantly around me and hope this will infuse my writing with an increasingly pleasant aroma.
I must have watched some low-budget horror film sometime in my formative years and blocked it from my conscious memory. My subconscious won’t let it go.
The nightmare recurs every few days, each time with a new scene, but always with that same hideous thing in it. Sometimes it’s in a park, or a school, other times a tropical island or vast pasture. I’ll be settling in nicely to the fictional escape, when all of a sudden, a giant nose will appear and crush the school, or decimate the island as if it were a gargantuan Godzilla foot.
This is the point at which I jolt upright in a cold sweat, yanking the covers over my head.
One of these nights I’m going to be brave and bring a Zombie with me into the scene and watch it devour The Nose so I can be rid of it once and for all.
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