For three weeks, EPICC participants have been exploring the sense of smell, what different smells mean to them individually, and how the sense of smell is used in creative writing.
The Madeleine Effect
At the outset of Marcel Proust’s Remembrance of Things Past, the smell of “petite madeleines” famously reconnected him to his childhood. The memories they evoked were grounded in images of a place. In this respect, his account vividly displays a recently deciphered characteristic of long-term memory: the sense of smell acts as a bridge between present and past. In fact, it has been found that olfactory memories take us further back in time than others.
A whiff transports me to a different place and time
Coffee powerfully takes me to early childhood
I smelt the coffee brewing and realized that I could dream about when I was young and mum and dad were drinking coffee while I lay on the floor.
Inhale, exhale, just breathe, close your eyes, be transported to another time, must be an important memory to invoke this connection, can’t decide how. Inhale, exhale, close my eyes, be transported to another place, do I feel safe here, or will I open my eyes and land back in reality? Breathe in deeply, be covered and immersed in their scent, carry this memory forever so when I smell this scent again, in a different time and place I’ll be brought back to you.
The smell of horses … when I first got my horses and just began to learn to ride.
Memory from smell is like a tugging on my brain and heart recalling how I felt and where I was, just a quiet tugging which I could ignore or embrace.
Sense of Smell as Place
Smell may be the most underutilised and yet most effective way to evoke a sense of place.
Sense of smell as place
Yellow smells take me to EPICC
Sunny friendly safe
Yellow smells are food, laughter, and creativity.
I like chips at home – yummy smell.
The smell of chips remind me of my home and transports me to my home and sitting and watching tv.
As I rolled through the hospital doors, my nose was hit by a wave of disinfectant mixed in with the overly sweet smell of processed food it must be dinner time It reminded me of being in group homes before mum and dad brought me home I felt alone and sad.
As I woke up, I was aware of the delicious fragrance of cinnamon and cream wafting around my unit. I was brought immediately back to the first time mum made rice pudding in our old house. I’m instantly at ease as I nestle back into my blankets feeling safe and warm.
Smell as Character Trait
Writers regularly use visual cues to distinguish one character from another. Richard Price is one author who uses scents the same way, marking his characters with distinctive smells, like the tracks of a woman’s perfume and the effect it has on the hero.
As Chris sat next to me, I could smell an intoxicating combination of coffee and fresh herbs. I could fall asleep to that combination but, if Chris is there, it’s time to work . As dad walked in to my unit the scent of sweat and freshly cut grass followed him inside and I’m reminded that he works hard to look after my garden while I sit and eat breakfast because he loves me.
Sense of smell as character trait
People have their own aroma
Fresh or foul
People leave a lingering trail of their presence.
One day there was a little boy who lived in a house with three little pigs in the forest far far far away. His name is Pungent Peter who was a little nutty boy who got into trouble by the three little pigs in the house. Pungent Peter got spiky h air and he is sticky with peanut butter sandwiches. When he was eating his sandwich at school, he got very angry at himself. The three little pigs said to Pungent Peter to go and have a shower or a bath. He is very dirty and he went to the bathroom.
The small boy played in the mud.
He was covered from head to toe with smelly mud .
His mother yelled you pong. Go and have a bath.
As Frank ran back inside covered in dirt, his mother called to him frantically “go back outside I have friends over and you stink of sweat and mud and crushed grass.” Frank smiled shyly at his mum as she suggested “why don’t you play under the sprinkler to freshen up. ”
The old man tried to hug the young girl.
Go away she screamed. You smell horrid. Just then the girl’s father came along.
What do you think you are doing?
Leave my daughter alone, you miserable old man.
A witch who is wearing a black coat and a black hat is putting her arm around the girl. by Sammy
One day there was an old man trying to hug a little girl who said to the old man, the witch, to go away, don’t touch me. Her sister Cinderella said to the old man, the witch, to take her away. The little girl’s name is Annie. The old man, the witch, found the girl Annie in a farm house with animals. Cinderella saved Annie, her sister, and went back home far far far far away from the old man, the witch.
Elizabeth ran through the woods but her shoe snagged on a tree root and she fell, sprawled on the ground, and as she lay there she was dismayed to feel drops of rain begin to splat against her exposed skin. As she began to sob into her hands where she lay she felt a warm hand on her shoulder and a voice saying, miss are you ok here take my cloak, you’re freezing . Elizabeth sat up to thank the kind stranger but as she turned to face them she was greeted by a wave of the stench of rotting teeth and flesh. Elizabeth recoiled in horror and instinctively blocked her nose. As the stranger glanced awkwardly away Elizabeth felt her cheeks flush in shame at her rude behaviour and realised that she too probably stank after days on the run. Elizabeth noticed that the stranger pulled some leaves from their pocket and placed one in their own mouth and extended their hand to Elizabeth offering her the other. Elizabeth breathed in this new scent with delight, the leaves smelt fresh, minty and clean. She shoved the leaves into her mouth and closed her eyes, when she opened her eyes the stranger was gone and in his place remained his cloak.
Smell as Mood
Great feelings are evoked by the smell of my mum and dad.
Mum has a smell of clean beautiful almond smell.
She cuddles me close and the waft of almond covers me.
Love and caring are impressed in my hair and clothes.
Dad smells like world and musk rolled together in a delicious bundle of manliness.
He hugs me tight and my body smells of a hint of him.
I am a girl who has a boy flavor lingering on me.
As I open my eyes I am instantly grumpy. Why is Lori clattering in the kitchen so loudly? I huff and close my eyes as I try to go back to sleep but I am becoming aware of the scent of coffee wafting through my unit. I’m suddenly much more aware and feel pleased at the prospect of waking up for the day, my bad mood dissipating into the air.
Terror reeks at the smell of beetroot.
Beetroot is dark and ripe in smell.
It makes me feel sick.
Mum gives it to me but I hate it.
Tell her please.
The smell I like is the smell of the rain.
Garbage in a bin
The smell makes me ill
I want to vomit
I want it gone
Take it away
Wash the horrid smell away
I can recall the smell of my sister and feel a rush of love for her.
Heartfelt and moving because I love her.
The smell of the hospital scares me and I don’t like the smell of hospital food too.
I like the smell of my mum’s potato bake homemade in the oven baking. The smell makes me feel good.
Smell as Culture
Smell is not just a biological and psychological experience, it is also a social and cultural phenomenon. This topic was discussed in some detail. There was no time left to write about the idea of smell as culture.
The afternoons at EPICC involve playing instruments, singing, and creating and acting in plays. Some interesting plots and characters have been developed. Everyone has such a lot of fun acting. The acting sessions are full of laughter which makes everyone want to do more.
Tyler enjoying the drum playing.
Erin enjoyed playing the finger cymbals, while also playing bells on her wrist.
Jackie sees the keyboard and is off to start playing. Definitely, her favourite musical instrument.
Jackie as Frances, the celebrity star.
Michael … striking a pose as quite a villain!
Sammy as Little Red Riding Hood.
Adrian as Edvard the Evil.