Writing Prompt: Scent Memory

There are certain scents that awaken memories or trigger certain emotions. Some pleasant, some not.

For me, there are some that I can recognise instantly and stir up all sorts of images:

cut grass
burning leaves
wet cat fur
fabric softener
boiled eggs (not so nice)

These are the first 10 that spring to mind.

Try writing down familiar scents and write what you love or hate about them. Do any of them conjure up certain memories?

Pablo Neruda – XVII: One of my favourite poems

I do not love you as if you were salt-rose, or topaz,
or the arrow of carnations the fire shoots off.
I love you as certain dark things are to be loved,
in secret, between the shadow and the soul.

I love you as the plant that never blooms
but carries in itself the light of hidden flowers;
thanks to your love a certain solid fragrance,
risen from the earth, lives darkly in my body.

I love you without knowing how, or when, or from where.
I love you straightforwardly, without complexities or pride;
so I love you because I know no other way

that this: where I does not exist, nor you,
so close that your hand on my chest is my hand,
so close that your eyes close as I fall asleep.

Writing Prompt: When the rose is dead

I was flicking through one of my journals, re-reading the entries and placing myself back in the memories that inspired me to record them within the book’s pages. Near the back of the journal I found a pressed rose, yellow, the colour of friendship.

I recalled a poem that I read 20 years ago.  I might have been touched with the words, but at the time was too young to appreciate what they meant. Although there is reference to love, to me,  it is more about memory and although the physical may whither, the memories stay with you, they have permanence in your thoughts.

Personally, I live to make new experience with the people I love, but replay those moments that have made me happy, whether they were 20 years ago, last month, or this morning. There are some thoughts, sights or even scents that can send my heart racing. Read this, and write down what it reminds you of. What do you feel when you read this?


Music, when soft voices die

Music, when soft voices die,

Vibrates in the memory;

Odours, when sweet violets sicken,

Live within the sense they quicken.

Rose leaves, when the rose is dead,

Are heap’d for the belovèd’s bed;

And so thy thoughts, when thou art gone,

Love itself shall slumber on.

– Percy Bysshe Shelley

Writing Prompt: Family Matters

I’ve been away from home for a long time. Sometimes, in order not to miss my family, I switch off a part of my brain and fill my thoughts with all the things I don’t like about where I’m from. The problem with that is sometimes the good things I should be focusing on fade into the background as well.

I’ve heard a few snippets of news from home that concern me and force me to bring family and old friends back to the foreground.  I don’t have long to wait before I can see everyone again. I’m making the journey back soon and I’m hoping that when I step through the threshold, my fears will be put to rest and we can enjoy the holidays together.

Sometimes, it’s easy to let life get in the way. We make excuses for why we’re not in touch. We take the ones we love for granted, but suddenly I’m scared that I’m running out of time to be with my family.

Focus on fond memories you have of your family and friends. Make a list. Don’t edit. Just write. Pick something in particular from the list and expand on it.

Writing Prompt: Undertow

I carried the small lime green plastic bucket to the sea, a white bendy spade in my hand. Over the next hour, I went back and forth from the water to the dry sand a few feet up the beach where my brother and I worked on a sand castle. As I collected the water for our little moat, he moulded towers and battlements of sand and sea shells.

Mom and Dad sat close to us on folding beach chairs, the kind that had leg-rests attached and were woven of multicoloured plastic strips and metal.

On one of my trips down to the water’s edge, I stood on the shore making fists with my toes in the sand. I looked out across the water as the waves gather far out along the horizon. As I focused my attention at the skyline, I didn’t notice the undertow that had me in its grasp in seconds. The wave sucked me under and rolled my five-year-old frame in sand, water and seaweed. I panicked and choked on salt water before my father could fish me out. I’m certain that he was at my side in seconds, but the shock and surprise of going under the cold water left me with a fear of water from which I’ve never quite recovered.

It’s funny, I can draw some parallels to that and other parts of my life. I’ve looked at some people, admiring the horizon, unaware that there were some harmless looking wave and ripples hiding the undertow that lurked underneath.

Have you ever been caught with your guard down?

It doesn’t always follow that a shock is a bad thing, but the effects can be long lasting….

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