The place I go back to…

Going to the Lake | Lisa BullardThere is a par­tic­u­lar road trip that has become a sum­mer rit­u­al for me, a jour­ney that takes me to anoth­er time as well as anoth­er place: going to The Lake.

No oth­er place has been such a con­stant in my life. I spent ear­ly sum­mers there dive-bomb­ing off the dock with my cousins and lis­ten­ing to my grandma’s sto­ries of the moon spin­ners. I spent teenage sum­mers there play­ing mud vol­ley­ball and yearn­ing over the boys next door. More recent­ly, I’ve spent sum­mer week­ends there watch­ing a new gen­er­a­tion pick up where the last one left off.

It is the place I go back to when I need to find myself again.

Some­times in the mid­dle of a hard-frozen win­ter I will pull some­thing out of a clos­et that I car­ried home from The Lake months before, and as soon as the famil­iar scent of that place reach­es me, I jump straight back into some of my deep­est memories.

Our sense of smell holds that abil­i­ty to instant­ly relo­cate us to anoth­er place and time because it is deeply entan­gled with our mem­o­ries and emo­tions. And yet as writ­ers, our sense of sight too often dom­i­nates. When see­ing a scene for the read­er, we focus on what our eyes per­ceive, and for­get what the nose knows.

Encour­age your young writ­ers to allow the sense of smell to sneak its way into their writ­ing. For the youngest writ­ers, you might chal­lenge them to per­ceive a sto­ry seen “through a dog’s nose.” For more devel­oped writ­ers, you might ask them to write a scene where all the emo­tions are sig­naled through smell.

You might find, with a litt‚le encour­age­ment, that smells are pow­er­ful enough to trans­port your young writ­ers on their own evoca­tive journeys.

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