Friday, June 11, 2010

Writing the Senses

"What I like about a good author is not what he says, but what he whispers."
Logan Pearsall Smith


Darling 1 told me that she obtained some old-fashioned lye soap for the mother of a friend. No doubt the mom now uses modern soap that includes plenty of moisturizers. She merely wanted a bar of  the lye soap of her childhood--not to use, but to be reminded of times past. .

What is your first good memory? Your first bad one? Your first sorrow?

I once heard a supposed expert on TV say people cannot remember scents. How wrong he was! Perhaps he meant he could not recall them.. I remember the smell of my grandmother's flowers on a hot summer day, the smell of my mom's face powder, the scent of my father's face when I kissed him goodnight, the scent and feel of clean cotton sheets dried on the clothesline. Those things are in my past--some of them further away than others--but I recall them as surely as if they occurred today. My brother swears that when he passes a woman who uses the same face powder as our mom, he thinks of Mother. He said he always wants to lean near and inhale, but fears the woman would misunderstand. LOL As writers we are charged with translating those memories into word picture so vivid that readers experience them.

We record not only our personal experiences, but those we imagine. I haven't killed anyone, but I can write about someone who does because I've experienced anger, desperation, and envy. I've never had a child or husband die---thank You, God!---but I have lost parents and siblings and others close to me. I can write about grief from that well inside me.

I've mentioned before that we store up experiences and become the sum of all of these--not just those we personally have gone through, but also those we observed. I firmly believe writers and other artists are more sensitive to people and to life.
We empathize. 
We listen.
We gather.
We are the storytellers of our generation as surely as those before recorded language when people sat around the fire and listened to their recited history. We record, so that a hundred years from now people may share our experiences. Our smells, our tastes, our touch, our sights, our sounds. I wonder who will be reading our words then? In what form will they appear?

Tell me about your first memories. How old were you?

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I'm still on a blog tour for my June release, OUT OF THE BLUE, from The Wild Rose Press and from Amazon. You'll find my tour appearances on the sidebar to the right of this article. Join me for new excerpts and details about the story before the story. As Isabel Roman commented, she likes to know the backstory, she just doesn't want to get bogged down in it inside the book.


Linda Henderson said...

I think some of the earlies memories I have are playing with our cocker spaniel puppies. We always had puppies around. I do remember going out to pick fresh flowers with the family to put on the graves on Memorial Day. We always picked peonies and iris. I love the smell of peonies and it is an early smell that I remember.

seriousreader at live dot com

Caroline Clemmons said...

Linda, puppies are a wonderful memorie. Picking fresh flowers for Memorial Day is very sweet. Thanks for sharing your memories!