Posted by Lynne
I would bury my nose in a loaf of warm banana bread, but you couldn't get me to eat a banana if I was adrift on a desert island. The savory smell of garlic and onion sauteing in a pan is delightful. But the odor that seeps out of the pores of a man who's indulged in too much via his pasta, gives me a migraine.
I'm one of those people who is easily overstimulated by my faulty functioning senses. Others claim I exaggerate what I smell, hear, and feel. I prefer to describe this condition as simply feeling things "big".
Last night, I polled my family for examples for this post. I asked, "Can you remember some of the funny things I've said to you over the years about feeling overstimulated?"
Here are just of few of the phrases they came up with.
I'm being attacked by my coat.
Dinner smells too loud.
I've got to go change out of this suit, my legs are screaming for a nightgown.
Why don't we all be alone, together?
Turn off that music, I need to ease into the morning.
You get the idea.
Lisa's post about listening to music while she writes, and the subsequent number of writers who responded that they listen to music too, got me thinking about sensory input. You can probably guess which side of the fence I sit on when it comes to writing with or without noise. When I think about which of my senses provides the best raw material for writing, I'd have to say smell.
Since I find a significant number of smells overpowering, this actually helps me to capture odors, stenches, aromas, and fragrances when I write. I've written about a doctor who is doused in so much musk, the protagonist couldn't hear his diagnosis, and an old woman who closed her eyes so she could listen to the daffodils swaying to the crescendo of her favorite concerto.
Most writers use sights and sounds with ease. According to Rebecca McClanahan, who wrote the marvelous book, Word Painting, the tougher sensory details to articulate are smell, taste, and touch. Of course the best writing is multisensory in nature. I learned about the specific link between smell and taste at an early age. When my father had a cold, he annoyed the rest of the family at every meal with his mantra. "I can't taste anything. I shouldn't even bother to eat. I just can't taste a thing."
On a daily basis, I struggle with feeling things "big". When I am bombarded with sensory input--my clothing is too tight, or my head is spinning from the din of the television-- I try to store potential descriptions in my mind to be mined for writing later.
Which senses are the bane of your existence in life, while at the same time color your writing in wonderful ways?
Thursday, February 22, 2007
Posted by Lynne