Wednesday, 19 January 2011

Smell That Thought!

Have you ever had a thought and suddenly a smell permeates that particular musing?
I'm sitting at my writing desk, looking out at an azure sky, leafless skeletal canopies and listening to birdsong. Ten minutes ago, whilst envisioning a hot July day for a scene in my second novel Sugar and Spite, I smelt tarmac. It passed in an instant, but not before that clawing bitter-sweet aroma invaded my reverie and gave me a helping hand.

It's not all about describing what you see, as any writer knows. Sometimes a smell can evoke a memory which can help the creative flow. The smell of tarmac took my ponderings back to the long hot summers I played French skipping on the pavements, with elastic wrapped around friend's scuffed knees. The sun would pinch our skin until it tingled and grew pink. Shiny black slugs of melted tarmac would dribble lazily into to gutters, smelling as sickly-sweet as a bag of pineapple chunks. It reminded me of lying on the spongey park grass watching aircraft drone overhead, leaving white streaks slashed across the bare blue sky - criss-crossing existing contrails. Now I'm impatient to see the first heat-haze of summer as it twitches and levitates above the broiled pavements.

Sadly my knees probably won't stand playing French skipping any more, but I now have a few ideas to jot down....


  1. oh, I love writing about smells!
    So evocative.
    Your summers day's gorgeous

  2. Am I weird? I quite like the smell of tarmac, and freshly laid roads. Almost like petrol.

    It's something I'm trying to do more with my writing though, is add smells. You're right, easily forgotten.

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  4. Thank you for leaving a comment Megan, I'm glad you like it.
    No you're not weird Teresa. I like the smell of petrol fumes as I'm filling the car - now that's weird!!