Sunday, February 08, 2009


So Many Stories...

by LuAnn Schindler

Earlier this morning, as I attempted to determine what this blog post should cover, I couldn't narrow it down to just one choice. Some writing days are like that. The ideas pop into a writer's mind and sometimes, it's difficult to focus on just one idea.

I wanted to write about:
  • National Indoor Air Month. Since writers spend a fair amount of time inside, it's important to consider the air quality in your working space. The past several days have been warm here in Nebraska, and I was able to open the windows and let in the fresh air. Just the hint of fresh air spurred my creativity. It also made me realize that an air purifier might be necessary for the office.
  • An retired Omaha librarian. Yesterday's Omaha World-Herald had an interesting story on the front page of the living section about retired librarian Linda Garcia, who spent 30 years at a library in Omaha's south side, which is home to a growing Latino population. Garcia built the library system's collection of bilingual materials and developed programs for immigrant families. She's also an artist, and one of her sculptures will grace the library she formerly worked at.
  • Writing gigs on Craigslist. Read an interesting blog this week (although now I can't find the link) about how writers should be perusing Craigslist ads because the number of jobs would keep all writers employed.
  • International Flirting Week. This week-long celebration begins tomorrow, and I wanted to give you the dirty on being flirty. But, writers flirt with danger every day. There's the seduction of selecting a topic, the courtship with researching, and the tease of the keyboard keys. Then all a writer has to do is give the proverbial flirtation move - the hair toss - to land an agent. Oh, if it were only that easy!
  • Reading programs in schools. Do reading programs and classes in elementary schools actually teach comprehension or do they focus instead on rote learning that doesn't give students the big or complete picture? This topic has been on my mind during my six-week stint substitute teaching the local 4th grade class. And furthermore, why are students receiving pass/fail grades in reading? How do teachers measure learning? From workbook pages?

Which deserves the most blog time? I couldn't decide, so I shared a snippet of each of the stories I'm going to start working on. Some writing days are like that.

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Monday, October 22, 2007


Look to the Nose Pool for Ideas

We rely upon our noses every day, and sometimes it’s for survival. Remember all the guys who have approached you that looked so attractive, until you smelled them?

According to Professor Nosetradamus at the Sense of Smell Institute, “Everyone has his or her own unique odor-identity or smell fingerprint.” This is great news for writers!

Have you ever relied upon your nose for story inspiration? Anything is possible, right?

We know that ambient scents play a large role in our society; they influence purchases, and they impact our impressions on places, people, events, or objects. But ambient scents also influence our memories, and this is where we should focus our noses when we need a little creative boost.

Have you ever walked into a shop, boutique, restaurant, house, or any place where you suddenly felt swept away by an odor? It could have been pleasing or not, powerful or subtle, but it should’ve had an impact on you, and not just your sense of smell. If you know what I’m talking about, then you might guess where I’m going.

Ambient scents can give rise to memories of myriad subjects--people, places, objects, foods, actions, or maybe something else. Of course, this affect can give rise to emotions or actions, too. For one, I’ve heard certain scents play a large role in purchasing power. I can’t say I’ve ever bought anything beyond food based on scent alone, but I’ve read that it happens. Apparently, some people choose their cars based on the interior’s aroma. Most people, however, don’t have the money to please their noses. But we know it’s true for some.

My husband and I sold three houses in the last eleven years. Before we’d shown our homes to prospective buyers, I’d put a few drops of vanilla on a heated stove burner, to fill the air with a fresh scent. This doesn’t mean that our houses had smelled dirty beforehand; but the vanilla added an impression to the air. We were told this helped ease buyers into a house much more than the smell of cleansers and bleach.

Everyone has smelled something familiar. Sometimes scents can give rise to déjà vu.

If I smell an ointment similar to an old one known as Ben-Gay, I immediately think of my grandmother in her final years. I don’t know if that particular product is still on the market, but I need only smell a similar one to think of my past. If, however, I smell poppy seed pastries or a yeast-based dough rising, I think of my grandmother when she was much younger.

I think we all have those experiences from various places, and maybe foods are the easiest ones. But they certainly aren’t the only ones. Here are a few off the top of my mind: roasted Hatch green chiles, Starbucks coffee beans, poppy-seed pastries, Cinnabon cinnamon buns, lilac blossoms, mold, pine trees, animal petting zoos, cow farms, gasoline fumes, cigarette smoke, cigars, pipes, onion fields, and the list goes on to infinite possibilities.

Just the other day, I couldn’t think of an idea for a contest. I let it sit, empty on the screen and in my mind. But the emptiness went away when I smelled curry powder. The curry scent wafted up my nose and tickled my memory of an event with a friend from years ago. That was all I needed to start typing up the story.

Professor Nosetradamus also tells us that “The average human being is able to recognize approximately 10,000 different odors.”

So, the next time you find yourself in story limbo, look to your nose pool for a scented muse! Technically, you could have about 10,000 story possibilities in there!

Sue ;-)

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