As writers, we have to look for inspiration wherever we can find it. Sometimes it’s in what we see, hear or feel, and sometimes it’s floating in the air. The seasons are changing and pumpkin spice, apple cinnamon, and firewood are some of my favorite scents in fall. They conjure up feelings of coziness and warmth. When I close my eyes and smell cinnamon, I immediately see plaid blankets, and forests of fall leaves.
My daughter was coming down with a cold this week and I used the tried and true remedy of rubbing Vicks Vapo Rub on her chest and back before bed. She hates the smell. I, love it! It’s one of the most comforting scents I’ve ever smelled in my life. That’s because the smell instantly transports me to my childhood bedroom. My father is rubbing Vicks on my back, and tucking my bed sheets tight. Then he’s turning on the humidifier on the nightstand and I’m watching the steam rise like a genie’s lantern. “You’ll feel better in the morning,” he says. He wipes my runny nose before kissing my forehead.
Another scent that transports me is the smell of ripe nectarines. When I smell them, I’m instantly 7 years old on summer break running into the kitchen to get a glass of Kool-Aid. There’s a basket filled with juicy fruits on the counter. My mother is washing the dishes in our kitchen. She’s craning her neck to see out the window to check out what neighborhood kids my brother, sister, and I are playing with. She’s wearing an apron, one of many that she’s sewn.
My daughter always comments on the way her friend’s house smells. “It’s a combination of incense and cookies baking,” she tells me. She’s totally right. I’ve been there many times over the years and couldn’t quite put my finger on the scent. It’s a family and a home that we love and is filled with happiness and ease.
If you’re searching for inspiration, look no further than your nose. The scents you love or the scents you hate may lead you on a journey. There maybe a story, setting, character, adjective or verb there that leads you to write something magical.
Check out Kenard Park's new picture book Goodbye Summer Hello Autumn for even more sensory inspiration!
Carol Higgins-Lawrence wrote her first story at the age of five. Her father paid her a quarter for it and she's been writing ever since. She's taken a variety of courses in writing for children. Multicultural perspectives are of particular interest to her. Carol is of Jamaican descent and was born and raised in Canada. She has a BA in Communications and Sociology and she has completed coursework towards a MA in TESOL. She has worked as a literacy educator for the past 15 years. She currently lives in Brooklyn, NY with her husband and two young children. You can visit her website at carolhl.weebly.com
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