In this episode, we come to our senses again. We had another LIVE showcase of writers in the Writerly Love community.
The writers you will hear all participated in the workshop series I offered last year on the six senses.
This is our second showcase. A first group of writers also showcased the senses back in episode 64 (https://rachelthompson.co/podcast/64/).
This time, we had so much goodness, that we’ll do this showcase over two episodes.
In this episode, you will hear the first three of six writers discussing and reading their sensory work. So, today it’s all about Sound, Smell, and Taste.
Listen to learn how these writers shifted their approach to these essential senses and bringing that embodied writing to life.
At the end of our discussion, I will offer prompts on the sense for you to do some starter writing, a little free-writing that will help you hone in and bring more specificity, concrete, felt experience, and clarity to your own writing.
When you get to the prompts, you could hit pause to write.
Or, you could download all of the prompts in the PDF in the show notes for this episode:
Get 12 sensory Writing Prompts
connect with readers through the senses
Resources from the Episode
- Whitney French: whitneyfrenchwrites.com
- Cicely Belle Blain: cicelybelleblain.com
- Cicely mentions a study on https://www.verywellmind.com/why-do-we-associate-memories-so-strongly-with-specific-smells-5203963
- Burning Sugar by Cicely Belle Blain
- Cicely also mentions The City We Become by N.K. Jemison
- Sarah Munn: Instagram
- Sarah references The School of Essential Ingredients by Erica Bauermeister
- Sarah references Black Cake by Charmaine Wilkerson
- Sign up for my Writerly Love Letters—they are filled with support for your writing practice and sent every other week. rachelthompson.co/letters
Transcript for Write, Publish, and Shine Episode 69
Cicelly Belle, Whitney French, Sarah Munn, Rachel Thompson
Rachel Thompson: 00:01
Welcome luminous writers to the Write, Publish and Shine podcast. I’m your host, author and literary magazine editor Rachel Thompson. This podcast explores how to write and share your brilliant writing with the world. In each episode, we delve into specifics on how to polish and prepare your writing for publication and the journey from emerging writer to published author.
In this episode of the Write, Publish and Shine podcast, we come to our senses again. We had another LIVE showcase of writers in the Writerly Love community.
The writers you will hear all participated in the workshop series I offered last year on the Six Senses.
This is our second showcase. The first group of writers also showcased the senses back in episode 64. So, you can hear that if you’d like to at https://rachelthompson.co/podcast/64/
This time, we had so much goodness, when we did our live call that we’ll do this showcase over two episodes.
In this episode, you will hear the first three of six writers discussing and reading their sensory work. So, today it’s all about Sound, Smell, and Taste from the second showcase.
Listen to learn how these writers shifted their approach to these essential senses and bring that embodied writing to life.
And at the end of our discussion, I will offer prompts on the sense for you to do some starter writing, a little free writing that will help you home in and bring more specificity, concrete, felt experience, and clarity to your own writing.
When you get to the prompts, you could hit pause to write.
Or, you could download all of the prompts in a PDF in the show notes for this episode. This is episode number 69, so you would go to https://rachelthompson.co/podcast/69/
So, I’m going to turn right away to Whitney and thank you for being here to represent the Sense of Hearing and Listening, which is such a podcast sense as well, too. So that’s exciting that we’re doing this in podcast form. Can you tell us a little bit what your sense of hearing and listening means to you?
Whitney French: 02:26
I definitely can. So, my name is Whitney French, I use she/her pronouns. And I’m calling in from Toronto, Dish with One Spoon treaty Territory, the original lands with Anishinaabe, Mississaugas and Haudenosaunee and hearing is everything. For me in a very specific and particular singular. And so, stroll away, I’m a proud daughter of a DJ. So, I’ve been listening and deep listening since in the womb. And this sense is something that I have thoroughly, carefully, meticulously, playfully, and painfully, have been thinking about in my practice. But then Rachel, when you did this whole Sixth Sense situation, I was like, “Oh, my listening writing process to a whole new level.” It was such a joy and a treat, and also a challenge to not just clean two verbs and languages that are familiar and common, but to really sit and listen, so much so that listening is my word of the year. I’m a big dork. And every year I have like a word of the year. And so, listening is permeating not just in my writing practice, but also in my life practice.
Rachel Thompson: 03:43
I love that. I’m with you as being a dork. My word this year is ‘I’ so we’re kind of going through some senses. I didn’t know that about your history in terms of having a parent who’s a DJ, I’m just wondering what’s come up for you lately and what you’ve been noticing and observing with the sense of sound that you’re hearing?
Whitney French: 04:02
I have been noticing, in this time of writing and thinking and processing. That sound arrives from so many different angles and also plays with time. If that makes sense. There might be folks in the space who are familiar with the Doppler Effect where there’s like a person and then they hear like the ambulance and like the way that like the sound of the ambulance kind of arrives at you. And there’s like one wave frequency that moves like in big long waves, and then also sound vibrations that move like in shorter waves, and it is the same source, but it is arriving to the ear differently. And so I’ve been thinking a lot of how sound can be kind of like a time portal. And that’s really trippy, but also a lot of fun for somebody who’s writing in genre.
Rachel Thompson: 04:46
One thing I was exploring a bit more about the senses preparing for this and I was reading that we tend to hallucinate sounds more often than other senses that we have auditory illusions in the example that I found too it was like, you know, those creeks in the night that become a little bit more sinister… Do you have a memory of thinking a sound was something that it was not or even a recent experience like that?
Whitney French: 05:11
Many, but the one that comes to mind is, and I’m trying to work this out in a poem as well, is the idea that the rain can sound like applause, or vice versa, someone’s applause can sound like rain. But I think I’ve had that sensation as a young child as well, like, especially a heavy rain hitting like, flat tarmac or pavement. And it sounds like applause but it just, I don’t actually know what that means in terms of meaning making of these like, kind of crossover, this sensation has a different meaning. But yeah, that was something that was going to make its way into a poem, somehow. Wait and see.
The hallucination. I didn’t know that fact until you mentioned it earlier. And I think maybe it’s just because of the sound for me anyways, it’s not just what you hear, but it’s like also the vibration of the thing. I’ve been thinking a lot about sound vibrations and hitting your body in a particular way. I don’t really have much more other than that, but still amusing, thinking about it.
Rachel Thompson: 06:12
Thinking of a group there, like a supportive group applauding in the water somehow in the rain. So, you talked a little bit about the series that we did. And thank you for saying that. I mean, part of why we’re doing this series too, is because I have had that feedback from a lot of writers that it really changed something for them in their writing. And that’s one of the things I want to showcase here is just how getting really intentional about the senses can do that. So, I guess I’m wondering sort of how things have changed for you, how does the way that you work with the senses now, and particularly the sense of sound differ from maybe how you did it earlier? Because you also mentioned you were deliberate about that.
Whitney French: 06:51
Yeah, I was deliberate about that. I’m working on a novel inverse, where my main character experiences the world through sound first, or that is like the way that she navigates through space. So, I have been very deliberate about it. But after this workshop, what I really started to think about was less capturing sound and more embodying sound, if that makes sense. In my writing practice, I would say, you know, you simile is, right, this sounds like that, or this sounds like that, versus what is actually the experience that I’m feeling or my character is feeling, or maybe a number, an entire community of people, there’s a moment in the work, we’re a community of people are all experiencing the same sound at the same time. And that sound doesn’t necessarily always have positive or like, friendly or pleasant experiences that accompany it.
And so something even as simple as glass smashing, and we folks who are hearing folks know the familiarity of that sound, but then how do we go even deeper, like sound of like glass smashing from a distance, far away, crunching like really kind of sitting with that sense, and not just using that kind of like shorthand, broken glass everywhere. But moving beyond that, seeing my full dork, I feel like the workshop really also allowed me to experience like automatic pick sounds and invited me to be a bit silly to get me closer to conveying to the reader how important and what this sound actually does for the narrative.
Rachel Thompson: 08:28
Alright, I’m going to invite you to read from that. So, let us hear it. Let us hear some of these changes that you’ve made in your writing please.
Whitney French: 08:35
It’s a quite short piece. And it’s directly from the exercise. In the exercise, just a little preface, Rachel, you asked us to think of a word that we’re obsessed with and to repeat it over and over again. So, I will do just that.
“Lilt, lilt, lilt, lilt, lilt, lilt, lilt, lilt, lilt definition, something that’s at the end, a notable hiss. It resounds as it falls, announcing its plunge. It is a tiny, gentle sway that escapes my tongue with a small force of air from my lungs. A cooperative sound, the top of my mouth, to participate. Lilt!”
Rachel Thompson: 09:37
Thank you. Delicious. Yeah. People who are here are applauding. I see. So, I just want to make sure you get some of that appreciation for your work. Thank you so much.
Whitney French: 08:35
It’s a quite short piece. And it’s directly from the exercise. In the exercise, just a little preface, Rachel, you asked us to think of a word that we’re obsessed with and to repeat it over and over again. So, I will do just that. Lilt, lilt, lilt, lilt, lilt, lilt, lilt, lilt, lilt definition, something that’s at the end, a notable hiss. It resounds as it falls, announcing its plunge. It is a tiny, gentle sway that escapes my tongue with a small force of air from my lungs. A cooperative sound, the top of my mouth, to participate. Lilt!
Whitney French: 09:48
Thank you. I’m so excited to get to other senses.
Rachel Thompson: 09:50
Yeah, I guess a final question would just be reading your own piece in thinking about the writing. What are you noticing about the senses and the sense of Hearing as your beat?
Whitney French: 10:01
This morning I was working on a scene, there was a break in scene or ransack scene. And it was really useful to think through all of the sounds that are occurring. And even if it’s excessive, a bit of like an audio overload. What I am realizing in my writing is like the excess of the thing, I have so much space and so much choice to select and choose from, and then also associating that sound with a deeper emotion. I realized that the sound that resonated in that scene was somebody’s strangled breath. And right away, I’m like, ‘That is the sound that I am going to sit with, because it’s deeply important to the emotional beat of the work’. So yeah, this whole experience has reminded me there’s so much sound, there’s a soundscape and also silences. And just I’d rather work with the excess and the abundance and then be like, this sounds like that, and then move on to the next action. So, so much gratitude, and I’m excited for the sound exploration.
Rachel Thompson: 11:06
I love that excess and abundance. Thank you.
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Alright, so I’m going to turn next to Cicelly Belle, who’s going to talk to us about the Sense of Smell. Welcome to the stage here, Cicelly.
Cicelly Belle: 12:11
Hi, I’m Cicelly Belle, my pronouns are they/them. I’m joining you from the unceded territories of the Musqueam, Squamish, Tsleil-Waututh, Gimenez, Kwantlen, Qayqayt , and Semiahmoo First Nations, which is South Burnaby in BC.
Rachel Thompson: 12:25
Thank you so much for being here to represent the sense of smell. That strong memory sense that’s how I always think of it. I just want to start by asking you what this sense means to you. And even things that have come up that maybe you’ve been observing about the sense recently?
Cicelly Belle: 12:41
I mean, yeah, exactly. As you said, I think smell is one of the strongest senses in terms of recalling memory. And because I’m the kind of person that intellectualizes everything, I had to do a little bit more research on that. And I was really interested to see if that was like a myth or if that was true, and it is true. And I read this really interesting study from the American Journal of Psychology that, you know, specifically talked about the experience of living through the pandemic, and how so many people lost their smell as a symptom of COVID and their sense of smell as a symptom. And there’s early research that impacted people’s ability to remember specific events as well. And I think when we also, you know, at just the general grief and chaos and trauma of the pandemic that impacts people’s memories a lot, but I can imagine that those who lost smell either temporarily or permanently from COVID, also lost the ability to recall specific events. And one of the researchers, Dr. Pamela Dalton describes odor as the backdrop or context for a person, place or emotional state. So, it’s not necessarily that we would recall something specific, but something more emotionally evocative, which I think lends so well to poetry. So, that was really excited to think more about smell and its impact.
Rachel Thompson: 14:03
I love that, the idea of losing the smell, and not just the smell itself, but the ability to kind of create those deeper emotional memories. Wow.
My next question is about the before and after story, I guess, in terms of your sense of smell like now, maybe that you’ve done that research too and how have you thought about it before in your writing? And particularly, I mean, if you want to talk about your book, as well to Burning Sugar, or other work from before, and then the after, now, like sort of how you’re exploring the senses and smell in particular?
Cicelly Belle: 14:35
Absolutely. I mean, yeah, my book is actually named after a smell. The poem in the book, North Carolina was about a time I attended a black leadership and organized retreat in North Carolina, and it was on the site of a former slave plantation. And so I wrote about how I imagined the smell of burning sugar under the hot sun and those experiences that really sort of shaped the foundation of North America in a sense. So yeah, smell has been something that- I think on one hand, I see it as a very like accessible tool for poetry. It’s easier to tap into I think because of that evocative sense, I think, especially with the piece that I wrote for today, and like, yeah, since receiving these great prompts from you, I’ve tried to think more about how can I push the boundaries of that and think not just about smells that might be pleasant, or like sweet or floral, but also how like, more pungent or negative smells or smells we don’t like can also influence our work as well. So I tried to play around with that too.
Rachel Thompson: 15:46
Lovely for you to read what you brought us today.
Cicelly Belle: 15:49
So, it’s called ‘The Landline’.
“The landline sits on the telephone table in the hallway full of ghosts in the house full of 1000 memories, the table shoulders, the world’s last phonebook. Below that were some polished leather court shoes tucked neatly between the carved table legs. In silence one can do nothing but breathe in their collective obsolescence. The gentle charring of plastic from the wires too close to the radiator, the subtle woodiness of pencil shavings, the elusive smell of cold as an ageless draft seeps through the front door, and the musty nests of the brown rings left by the reliable rhythm of cup after cup after cup of milky tea. Somehow together under the slowly building gossamer, the mangled marriage of sense transports me on the bus, then the tube, then several streets on foot to a museum. Inside it’s 1939 and smells like trenches. It doesn’t make sense that a piece of useless mid 2000s furniture could remind me of a bygone war. As I put down the receiver for the last time, slip the court shoes on for one final twirl, and attempt to rip the phone book down the middle. I realized these are relics of my childhood and the wall.”
That was a relic of hers. Thank you!
Rachel Thompson: 17:06
I’m struck just how much the senses really evoke a place like I really was in that room. And you’ve explored so many other senses as well. Thank you for that. I would love to know what you’re thinking about in terms of reading that work preparing but also what you’re noticing in terms of the sense of smell in other writings.
Cicelly Belle: 17:26
Yeah, I think as I mentioned, it’s kind of like a sort of inaccessible entryway into diving deeper into emotions and memory, I think came into poetry and writing in a more sort of traditional sense. And part of my personal process. And what I really appreciate when I’m reading other writers’ work, I found that I really enjoyed poetry that’s unconventional and more sort of gritty and raw. And maybe it’s describing like, an urban environment, or, in fact, it’s not even poetry. But the book, “The City We Become” by N.K. Jemisin, this very bizarre sort of fascinating story about people becoming a city and a city becoming people and like the merging of that, and just the kind of grittiness in which she describes the urban environment. And she uses a lot of senses and particularly smells, but yeah, not nice ones, like smells of like alleyways and trash cans and those things. And that’s been a really interesting thing to see. And to realize what excites me more as I try to be more experimental in my own work and less sort of traditional, I mean, I think there’s nothing wrong, obviously, with writing about like, the more traditional things, especially when I read that quote, from that psychologist about odor being a backdrop, I thought about a poem that I wrote when I was like, 14, or 15. And I was thinking about my childhood, home, and I described honeysuckle as the wallpaper to my childhood. And so just thinking about it as a backdrop is really powerful as well. So yeah, it’s been really interesting to kind of play around with that and sort of see how I’m drawn in by other writers work as well.
Rachel Thompson: 19:07
Yeah, I love that, honeysuckle wallpaper. Wow. You started early. That’s great. I had this question here. And maybe we didn’t put it in front of them, too. But it’s the idea of being a sensitive writer in relation to the senses. Did you have anything else that you wanted to say, in relation to that? Like, what does it mean to be a sensitive writer in relation to the senses?
Cicelly Belle: 19:27
What came to mind for me was how it’s so subjective and so unique to everybody’s experience. Like, I don’t know if I have something wrong with my sense of smell and taste, but I often say, oh, this really tastes like something and somebody’s like, what are you talking about, it isn’t anything like that. I went to, like a cider tasting and I said, this cider really tastes like butter and the woman who made it was really offended that I guess it wasn’t supposed to taste like that. But to me, it really tasted like butter. Sorry, I’m stealing that taste, sense there. But yeah, it was like, it’s so subjective and you can’t tell me I’m wrong if that’s what it tastes like, to me. That’s what it tastes like to me. And I think, to answer the question about being a sensitive writer, it’s a great way for us to unlearn and unconditioned ourselves to, like, you know, try to do what we’re supposed to do, or behave like someone else. Or it’s a good way to find your own style. And like find your own entry point into writing, I think, especially poetry is to think about that as like, a landing place or a starting place. And then it can springboard into so many other things. If all of us were at the cindery together, we would go in so many different directions. But even if we were at the same place.
Rachel Thompson: 20:45
I love that. And I also love how you mentioned the sense of taste too, because of course, smell and taste are very, they overlap in so many different ways. And our next sense is the Sense of Taste. So, I want to welcome Sarah Munn up to talk about your sense today and introduce yourself as well.
Sarah Munn: 21:04
Thank you so much for having me. And I just want to say that Whitney and Cicelly, you’ve been amazing. This is wonderful to listen to. So, just thank you everybody for being here today. This is fantastic.
My name is Sarah Munn, I use she/her pronouns. And I’m recording from Toronto the traditional lands of the Mississaugas of the Credit, the Anishnabeg, the Chippewa, the Haudenosaunee and the Wendat peoples.
Rachel Thompson: 21:26
I want to jump right into the sense of taste. I happen to know because I’ve been reading a lot of your writing too that you have family members who are in fact chefs, trained chefs. And so you grew up around a lot of taste. Can you tell us a bit more about what this sense of taste means to you, and even what’s come up for you lately, when it comes to the sense of taste?
Sarah Munn: 21:47
Sure, you brought up my family. So, that’s exactly where I draw meaning when it comes to taste. My parents are both chefs. And they have really diverse palates. They like trying new things. They always try to cook things from different cultures and figure out ingredients and they’re very open minded through their palates. So, they always encouraged me as a child to try new foods. And so for me taste is really strongly connected to family, it has a lot of meaning for me. It’s connected to culture, to memory. And being someone who really enjoys food, it’s also very connected to pleasure. And I think all of the senses are connected to pleasure, but for some reason, taste feels a little bit more so sometimes. So yeah, for me, there’s a lot of layers to it.
Rachel Thompson: 22:32
When I asked you to think about something that you tasted recently that you enjoyed, and maybe that you didn’t enjoy as well, too. So can you share both of those with us?
Sarah Munn: 22:42
The one that I enjoyed recently, was a couple of months ago, at a really authentic French bakery here downtown on Queen Street, where I tried to lemon Eclair, I don’t eat a lot of eclairs. Lemon is also not even a go-to flavor that I always pick, but I chose that one. And it was the most pure lemon flavor I’ve ever experienced. It was sweet and tart, but not too much either. And it is just like perfectly captured lemon essence. And I was really blown away by it. And then the thing that I tasted recently that I didn’t like so much was actually just this past weekend, I was at a mall and I ordered my go-to bubble tea or Boba I’m sure we have some people on the call that love that too. I got my go-to order. And it was a banana coconut slash with tapioca pearls. And it was made with too much ice. So, it tasted really, really watery. And it was just a big disappointment, which is like a very simple thing. It’s just a drink that, you know, a snack drink. But because it was a flavor that I know very well, it’s my go-to, I had an expectation in my head of what I was going to taste, and it immediately tasted wrong. So yeah, it was definitely a taste disappointment.
Rachel Thompson: 23:54
Now I want to turn to your writing and talk about kind of your journey with writing with taste. I mean, you started in a very taste aware place. That’s sort of something that you experienced environmentally early on, how has that changed in your writing, maybe recently, or even just over the long arc of your writing career?
Sarah Munn: 24:12
Being asked to make this call is what made me think about it a lot. And it’s funny because you say that I started in a tasty, aware place, and I did but looking at the history of my writing, even though there’s usually a culinary thread, I noticed that I sometimes don’t describe the taste of the food, I would describe maybe the smell of something cooking or what it looked like, or name a lot of ingredients and dishes. But I noticed that I didn’t always describe taste as much as I could. So yeah, trying to look at my work critically, I was like, ‘okay, that’s kind of strange when food is such a taste oriented thing’. So, that’s something that I’ve realized about my writing and I’ve been thinking a lot about trying to make the food and my writing a character in itself. So I really wanted to try to dive in more into taste and describing things really well and trying to nail that and get it as authentic as possible because I think that can be really powerful.
Rachel Thompson: 25:10
Will you share the writing that you brought us today related to the sense?
Sarah Munn: 25:14
Sure. So, I’m reading an excerpt from a short story that I’ve been working on. That I’ve actually been workshopping with people in this community. Candace is on the call, and I’ve been workshopping in a group with her. So, it’s a short story called ‘The Chef’s Wife’. It’s a new scene that I worked on with this call in mind and with taste in mind.
“My favorite meal that Luke ever made, for me was also the simplest fresh baguette purchased from the French bakery down the street, warmed in the oven to fragrant nutty perfection, goat’s cheese, tangy, creamy and soft at room temperature. Olive oil, the good stuff, bitter liquid gold, and garlic jam, a heavenly creation I hadn’t known existed. Garlic, sugar, water, salt, pepper, the easiest recipe that when simmered slowly, yields a sticky, sweet, savory mixture I could spread on everything. As the flavors caressed my tongue. I closed my eyes, boiled on my lips, that you have good bread between my teeth. Sweet, salty, creamy, all my taste buds alive and dancing.”
Rachel Thompson: 26:22
Yes, I can taste that. I’m seeing notes on the olive oil, the good stuff and that you have good bread.
Sarah Munn: 26:29
Rachel Thompson: 26:30
So, just reading that piece and thinking about other writing you’ve read? What do you notice about the senses and the sense of taste when you’re reading?
Sarah Munn: 26:40
Because I enjoy food and taste is so meaningful, I will always notice food and taste descriptions when I’m reading. And I really, really appreciate it when those descriptions feel authentic to life. Sometimes I feel like I’ve read taste descriptions that can seem very abstract or very high concept. And there is a place for that. But sometimes I find that hard to relate to. So, I really like it when people write something that just describes how something tastes, how it smells, how it feels in your mouth, the memory that it triggers in a character. For example, if it’s fiction, Erica Baumeister, she’s one of my favorite writers. And she does that really well in her book, The School of Essential Ingredients. But sometimes I also think that even just mentioning foods in a very simple way, in our writing can be powerful. And it adds a lot of authenticity, because so much about food is about life and about what we experience. And you know, everybody eats, everybody has cultural foods, everybody has some kind of connection to food. And it can be good and bad. But sometimes that gets left out of writing that I’ve read.
For example, the book I’m reading right now is Black Cake by Charmaine Wilkerson, which is, you know, it’s got food in the title, of course, and she has some lovely descriptions. But she also has places in the book where it’s just a mention of a dish. So, you know, Charmaine mentioned oxtail, and rice and peas. And for me, I have Caribbean heritage. So, for me, when I read that, I immediately connected with it, even though she didn’t describe how it tastes or how it smells, she just mentioned it. So that’s just something I’ve been noticing where even just the mention on a simple level, can be powerful in writing. So, I think there’s obviously room for both simple mentioning, and then going into beautiful, detailed descriptions. But I think both are powerful. And I kind of want to see more of it in my own work. And in what I read, I love when food is part of the story.
Rachel Thompson: 28:35
Yeah, I love books that make me hungry. That’s what happens when I read books that mention food.
I’ll put you to the question about what does it mean to be a sensitive writer in relation to the senses? This is our last question.
Sarah Munn: 28:48
I kind of take that question two ways. On one hand, I kind of take it very literally, I think of myself as an empath. So for me, being a sensitive writer is literally being sensitive, and being aware of what we feel and trying to put that into our work.
But I also think on the other hand, it’s trying to be mindful, I think it connects to mindfulness. And I think it’s about tapping into all the senses that we’re talking about today. And trying to notice them in our own lives, you know, noticing what we see and feel and hear and touch and taste, and then trying to capture that in our writing. I know we talk a lot about mindfulness in this community. And I think that’s kind of the weigh in to all of the senses and to being a sensitive writer. It’s trying to be aware of those things and then capture them in the writing. Because I think all of these senses we’re talking about are what make our writing real and relatable. It kind of really makes it sing and it’s what people will connect to, I think. So, if we can try to tap into those and put them all into our writing, I think that’s where you can create work that people really connect to.
Rachel Thompson: 29:55
Thank you so much. It’s all about connection. Anything that comes back to connection is important, I think when it comes to our writing. Thank you so much, Sarah.
Sarah Munn: 30:04
Definitely. Thank you.
Rachel Thompson: 30:07
The Writerly Love community is my warm and supportive membership community for creative writers to get together, learn about everything from writing craft and getting published to building a platform and sustaining yourself as a writer. If you’re ready to learn and grow, I’d love to have you join us.
You can learn more and sign up at rachelthompson.co/join.
Let’s connect these ideas with your own writing, shall we, I will now offer three prompts related to the three senses for you to write, you might just listen and then go about your day and think about the prompts until an idea germinates and is ready to be expressed. Or you might hit pause after each prompt and set a timer to write. And do that until you’re ready to un pause and go on to the next prompt. Or you can download all of the prompts up at rachelthompson.co/podcast/69.
So, here is your Sense of Hearing Writing Prompt called “Semantic Satiation”. And this is the prompt that Whitney French mentioned and used for the writing that she read in the episode. So, you would start by writing a list of your favorite words today, all of your favorite words, today, words that are resonating with you, write a list of them, and then pick one word from that list, and write it over and over. And you can say it out loud if you can, where you are, if you’re in a space where that’s okay to do, just say the word aloud each time you’re writing it over and over, you would do that for probably a page if you’re working in a notebook or a minute, if you’re doing it by timer.
Then you would write a new definition of the word and continue writing about what it means to you. You could set a timer for yourself and then commit to keeping your pen on the page for the full time. I definitely suggest at least 10 minutes if you’ve got it. So, that’s the prompt semantic satiation.
The Sense of Smell Writing Prompt is called “Scent of an Emotion”. So here, you start again with a list. So, you write a list of all the emotions you experienced in the past week, good, bad, neutral, you could also add all of the emotions you witnessed in the past week. For me, this was a lot if you count the expressed emotions of my kids, and the repressed emotions of adults. So you could let this list be long, just write all the emotions that you recognize from your week.
And for each emotion, write about the smells that might evoke that emotion, what is the scent of anger, the sense of joy, the sense of frustration, once you’ve filled in those scents, write a scene or snippet where someone experiences one or more of those emotions, but do not name the emotion in the text. So, use the sense to show that emotion. So, that is your sense of an emotion, sense of smell writing prompt.
Now the next prompt is Sense of Taste Writing Prompt. And this is called “Taste and Character”. So, you write a list of people, you have prepared a beverage for, beverage of any kind cocktails, tea, if the list is short, you could add people who also prepared a beverage for you. Just using that prompt the idea of a sharing taste together, then for each of the people on your list, you could write as many sentences as you can in the following construction, which I will as an aside mentioned, this construction comes via the excellent Matthew Salesses book “Craft in the Real World”. And it’s someone who’s great at character writing and a great teacher of character. So we take this list of people we’ve prepared a beverage for. And then for each of them, we would insert their name. So you say this person’s name was the type of person who ___ (blank) and you fill in that blank.
Here is an example. So one is:
Emy was the type of person who went “out for coffee” frequently but disliked the taste of caffeine.
It can be as simple as that it can be as complex as you’d like. But it’s like this is the type of person who likes– I also mentioned to you that you know, if you’re writing primarily nonfiction, let yourself go fiction on this and just invent different ideas about the person it doesn’t have to be too factual. And then you would choose one of the sentences to build upon.
So whichever one is giving you the most energy, and use it to describe a scene, image, event that shows why they are “the type of person who___.” Evoke the senses, in particular flavors, but all senses in this scene or snippet.
And I definitely encourage you to use all the senses in all of your writing. That was your sense of taste writing prompt, tasting character.
And those were the three writing prompts that are companions to this episode where we discussed the sense of hearing the sense of smell and the sense of taste. Stay tuned because we will have three more senses in the upcoming episode.
And I’m just so grateful to Whitney French, Cicelly Belle, and Sarah Munn for talking about the senses and reading their brilliant words on the senses.
You can learn more about each of the writers, including all the books and resources mentioned, including Cicely’s book Burning Sugar, by going to the show notes for this episode. Again, Episode 69 https://rachelthompson.co/podcast/69/.
These writers are all members of our Writerly Love community, and I’m so grateful to have them connected with us all. And they all took part in the Six Senses workshop I offered last year, which was a springboard for some beautiful words, if I may say so it’s inspired now, these two showcases already in lots of writing and lots of publishing experiences as well, too. So, I’ve been truly touched. No pun intended about the sense of touch, but I have been truly touched by how effective that series was for many writers.
And by the way, I will be offering another guided writing workshop series in May. So you could stay tuned here or sign up for my Writerly Love Letters to stay updated. Those are found at rachelthompson.co/letters
In our showcase, I loved all the writing, and I hope you loved it too. And one thing I appreciated so much was when Cicelly mentioned the impact that pandemic had on the sense of smell.
In our next episode on this theme, we’ll hear also about the sense of touch through this experience of pandemic related loss. And the next episode with the sense of touch, sight, and the sixth sense will be out in podcast format, in Episode 71. So, you can look forward to that two weeks from now. And the reason being is we’ve earmarked episode 70 next week, I’m going to release episode 70. I can’t believe it is 70. Even though there have been sporadic periods of releasing this podcast and going on hiatus, I’m still amazed that we’ve gotten to 70 episodes.
And in honor of this suspiciously numbered episode, I’m going to include a state of the Community Overview for that episode. So this will be a bit of a behind the scenes about what we’re up to. And I’ll be joined by our community facilitator and my podcast co-producer Meli Walker. We’ll talk about what we’re noticing in our broader writing community and what is to come. So, I feel like this is an unmissable one for those of you who want to be in the writing community with us.
This will be inclusive of the broader Write, Publish and Shine listenership, i.e. you luminous writers who are listening, and we’ll also talk about the course and membership community that I host.
So, I hope you’ll stay, subscribe to hear that episode, Episode 70, where we’ll also give more tips on how to join our craft book club. That’s out next week.
If you want to write now after being inspired by what you heard today, download the three sensory prompts I offer in this episode in a PDF. They are in the show notes.
This is episode 69 again, so you would go to https://rachelthompson.co/podcast/69/.
The Write, Publish, and Shine podcast is brought to you by me, Rachel Thompson and my co-producer for this episode is the talented Meli Walker. Sound editing is done by Adam Linder of Bespoken Podcasting.
You can learn more about the work I do to help writers, write, publish, and shine at rachelthompson.co. When you’re there, sign up for my Writerly Love letters, sent every other week, sometimes more often, and filled with support for your writing practice.
If this episode encouraged you to hear applause in the rain, remember a smell from your grandmother, or get hungry for food in your writing, I would love to hear all about it. You can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
And please tell other luminous writers about this episode. You can do this by sending them to the podcast at rachelthompson.co/podcast or searching for Write, Publish, and Shine wherever they get their podcasts. Please do this. You can do it now, just send a message and say, hey, want to hear some thoughts and beautiful writing about the senses, plus get some thoughtful and generative prompts, writer-friend? Check out The Write, Publish, and Shine Podcast at https://rachelthompson.co/podcast.
Thank you for listening—I encourage you to stay sensitive and write your most luminous work!
As you heard in the episode, each writer introduced themselves and the names of the Indigenous communities that historically and presently call the lands they spoke to us from.
And I am a guest in the South Sinai, Egypt, on the lands of the el Muzzina Bedouin.