Nourishment for the Soul (but no escaping literature)
Today I am calm, relaxed. I wanted to share that with you.
I have just returned from a few days touring the Highlands. The North Coast 500 to be exact. And what has this to do with writing, you may ask? Well, it does us all good to get away from the desk occasionally, to be inspired by new locations, different ways of life.
My discovery of the week: hearing is a crucial sense. A novel needs a soundtrack just as much as any movie does.
I’ve always known that the sense of smell is important when I imagine the worlds of my novels.
But I’d never previously thought much about sound, though I savour it enormously in other people’s writing. (There may even be another blog on that!) I think I did put it in, mostly. Well, a bit. And not just conversation, either.
But somehow I’d forgotten when it came to my latest novel. So over these last few days I’ve been on a roller coaster of exploration and experiment – and revision! Continue reading →
This blog is about ways I’ve found to repel the night tigers we’re facing in the UK right now.
Do you remember Pollyanna? She was the irritating kid who played the Glad Game, no matter how dire things were. When she wanted a doll but got crutches from a Christmas present Lucky Dip, her father told her to be glad she didn’t need them. What would he say about night tigers?
It’s been a bad time. Angry young men killing people, claiming the justification of their faith. Politicians politicking pointlessly but with some nasty campaign tactics. Horrible racist backlash in places. Furious partisan insults on social media. Vile.
Yet there are good people and great things in the world and some seriously funny ones, too. I’m hugging them close. Here’s how. Continue reading →
When I was a child, Christmas was the smell of oranges and cigars and the Christmas tree, resinous and strange. Put any two of them together and it still bounces me right back into the past, bringing with it firelight, the bustle of friendly company, a sense of holding my breath in excitement. Smell is the first route by which I recall emotion.
Why smell evokes memory : the science bit
There is a reason for this, I find. Olfactory neurones in the upper part of the nose generate an impulse which signals the limbic system, that part of the brain which controls not only memory but also emotion, mood and behaviour. Supposedly, this is one of the most primitive parts of the brain.
Smell — the fallen angel of senses?
Apparently, Helen Keller called smell “the fallen angel of the human senses” because we don’t use it any more to tell us there’s a tiger in the area. And I agree that we live in an intensely visual age, with more communication illustrated than ever before.
But we do still smell food that has gone off.
And, even more important to the romantic novelist, smell is an important part of sexual attraction. Continue reading →