Touch it. Feel it. Taste it. Smell it. Hear it.
Memorial Day weekend my husband and I took our kids fishing. This had been a planned trip since spring break but here of late, Texas has experienced a lot of rain. I am talking 20-30 feet of overflow in some of our lakes. Now in case you didn’t know, when a lake is flooded to a certain point, it becomes a hazard and is closed down which makes fishing impossible. My kids find this confusing because the past two summers, some of our lakes have been dried up to the point that fishing was impossible.
We planned a weekend trip to a lake town about two hours southwest from where we live. It was a rainy weekend (as most have been lately) and we weren’t a hundred percent positive that we were going to actually get to fish with the severe storms in the forecast. With our gear packed up, we headed out of town anyway because this was going to be a dual trip where we were getting to visit with my dad too.
Being such a big lake town, one would be surprised at how very few good fishing holes are accessible to the public due to the lake homes, boat docks and hotels/restaurants. After driven two hours from home, we had to drive out of the main town a good forty minutes further.
Now forty minutes outside of town lead us to a whole lot of nothing. Imagine a beautiful country side, with rolling meadows, lush greenery from all of this rain… yeah this isn’t one of those scenes. It was as if the rain had missed this area and life had almost dried up.
We stopped at the only bait shop, and it was generally the same as any other bait shop that I have ever been in – dark, dank, a bit (a lot) grungy and a hint of fishiness in the air. It was outside that really had my senses rolling: what I saw, what I smelled, what I heard (there wasn’t going to be any touching or tasting). All of this started tumbling around in my head, forming an opening scene. To what I didn’t know.
It stayed with me and I kept chewing on that first sentence, over and over, repeating it in my head, afraid that I was going to lose it. Finally, a few days later it was still with me and I had to get it out, it was just taking up too much space. Five minutes later I had 175 words written and I felt relief.
Part of being a writer is using our imaginations, knitting a world all of our own making that comes from deep within us. However, the key word here is part.
Part of writing is our imaginations. Another big part is our senses.
Sure we have knitted that story together, but how does it sound as you find your way through the passages? What can you see when you enter the pages? Do you smell something within the words? Can you hear the feelings of the dialogue? Will you taste what the protagonist’s tastes?
It is our job as the writer to build a world that the reader can feel like they are walking along with us as the story unfolds. It is fun, it is exciting, it is painful, it is hard; but we love it.
Here is what my fishing trip gave me… (Please remember that it is unedited and extremely rough.)
My Mother’s Daughter
The smell of poor smacked me in the face, much like my mother liked to do when this was my hometown.
Rotting wood structures stood as gravestones, dotting along the broken road. Each one a reminder of a life time once lived. I rolled up the windows in my car, even though I preferred the fresh air and the weather was perfect for it, the stench of wild animal piss and shit made my eyes water.
I pulled up and scanned the place, not much had changed of my childhood home. Her car sat, where I saw it last, in what used to be a make shift dirt driveway. Now, waist high weeds and grass snaked its way up the flattened tires and through rusted out holes in the bumper.
The question was fleeting, “How does she get to the grocery store?”, before I reminded myself that I didn’t care. She could starve. I was here for one reason.
To get the girl, my mom’s most recent addition to our family tree.
I am not sure if I will make anything of it, but I enjoyed the quick trip my senses took me.
What scene can you come up with by using just one of your senses? Pick one and give it a go, let me know in the comments.
Till next time,