Hi all! Happy May. We’re in the southeastern part of the States, and things are heating up! Shorts, cute dresses, and sandals are being pulled from the back of the closets as we speak. Pools are being opened, picnics are being planned, and people are doing all the outdoor things. I love it!
But am I taking notes on what’s happening around me as far as trees blooming? The brownish Bermuda lawns slowly turning that beautiful green color? What kind of smells are happening? Honeysuckle? Gardenia? These are the things I try to pay attention to in my novels. I have to admit, as a writer, I’m probably worse at writing the smell sense. But I need to up my game on that one because the sense of smell is connected to memories more than any other sense.
What a cool tool (Ha!) to have in our arsenal when writing. So much of our lives involve memory, and nothing triggers those memories like the sense of smell. For me, one of the strongest smells that consistently triggers memories is cut grass. Not onion grass so much, but when I smell cut grass, my brain immediately tries to land on a place that I always associate with my grandparents, yet it’s elusive.
It’s like as a child I always envisioned living in a house with a lot of grass. (We didn’t.) When I see rolling hills of grass, smell that freshly cut grass, this particular house and landscaping comes to mind. A house I never lived in, but probably imagined. It sounds weird I know, but that particular memory happens a lot. But isn’t it weird that it’s not an actual memory. It’s a hope, dream, maybe?
But it’s still real and connectable to a part of my life. Whenever I smell certain perfumes I think of certain people. And houses have smells, too. My dad and stepmom’s house always had a certain smell. I have some of their furniture and it still smells like their house. It’s a comfort.
As writers this is a great tool to use in writing as everyone can relate. Readers understand and have experienced that for themselves. And if you’re reading or writing a romance where the past is involved, the sense of smell can be a great gateway into bringing up good, or not so good, memories. And even if a story isn’t a reunion story, or a return to hometown story, we all have memories that shape our world now.
When I smell cookies baking, I think of my grandmother.
When I smell coffee I think of my dad.
When I smell rain, I think of creating, being alone. I love rainy days. (When I can be at home!)
How about you? Are there any particular smells that conjure up memories? I’d love to hear about them. To one commenter, picked at random, I’ll give away an e-copy of my novella, Sweet Love of Mine. It’s about a chef, and food, and all the yumminess! Comment by Friday night, May 20th, at midnight to be eligible.