Sunday, November 25, 2012

sensory overload

I just took a cup of coffee out of the microwave where I have re-heated it for the third time this morning...and have yet to sit down long enough to take a sip. The Thanksgiving guests have departed. The leftovers are dwindling. The tablecloths and towels are in the washer, and the kitchen floor has been swept and mopped. Today is recovery...and

I'm in the process of revising a short short story for a submission. I don't know how other writers approach revision, but I do it in layers. Formatting, typos, and punctuation first. Grammar and usage, second. Next I circle all the "to be" verbs and eliminate as many as I can, and then I look for other repetitive constructs--paragraphs with too many he's, she's, and it's, and sentences, one after the other, beginning subject/verb, subject/verb.... Finally, I strike out as many adjectives and adverbs as my sinking heart can bear.

Then, the fun begins! Imagining new metaphors...and engaging the five senses--vision, hearing, smell, taste, and touch.

Thanksgiving definitely reawakened my five senses! First, the sun rose such a deep red on Thanksgiving Day that my camera froze up at the beauty of it, so this isn't exactly it, but you get the idea:

Then, the mingling aromas of a slow-roasted turkey and spicy-sweet pie tweaked our appetites all afternoon...

...although, frankly, I could have done without the reptilian feel of the slippery, slimey liver and kidneys that I boiled up for the dogs!
The real taste treat came compliments of Chef Guy Fieri with his recipre for whiskey-glazed sweet potatoes that you can find at
And when we sat down to eat, silence prevailed, interrupted only by the sound of forks clicking against china, and an occasional sigh of contentedness.
Sensory overload.
So, today I'm working on incorporating the senses into my story, "Lost and Found."
  • Imagine an elderly widower's apartment that reeks of moldering coffee grounds and old bananas.
  • Picture a snow plow barreling down the street spewing out a wall of snow like a monster wave rolling into the shore.
  • See him coming in out of the cold with a moustache that has turned to frost and his cheeks, to cherry popsicles.
  • Imagine his relief when he opens the door to his friend's store and a tinkling chime and surge of warmth welcome him in.
  • Imagine his rue when he realizes he forgot to pick up the hard candy he likes to hand out to the children in the neighborhood. And picture him setting his bag down and slumping against a lamp post when he can't find his way home again.
If you don't see, hear, feel, smell and taste the things your character does, you are left with a mere shadow of the person you are trying to create or describe.
Are your senses fully engaged in your writing? Are you alert to your surroundings and to the people around you? Or are you rushing ahead with your eyes fixed on the ground and your thoughts elsewhere?
"If you wish to make an apple pie from scratch
you must first
invent the universe."
--Carl Sagan--
Next week I'll be in Pittsburgh where I'll get to meet Beth Caldwell, author and project manager for the up coming anthology, "Empower! Stories of Breakthrough, Discovery and Triumph" where you will be able to read my chapter, "Begin Again". The anticipated date of release is March, 2013.


  1. Can't wait to read this.

  2. The scents of the Thanksgiving meal cooking is one of my favorite parts of the day.
    March is getting here quickly.

  3. Well said. Is this a short story coming out or an insightful piece? Either way, can't wait to read it.

  4. Just dropping by to let you know that I have nominated you for the Liebster Blog Award. As with all blog awards, there are "rules" or "steps" to follow in accepting this one (they can be found at the following link).
    I so enjoy reading your blog, and I find your "begin, begin again" spirit absolutely inspiring. Thanks for sharing it with the world.