Toast & Leather, not Leathery Toast

Saturday morning. The smell of toast. Suddenly it barrels into me, sending me awash with childhood memories, nothing in particular, just an overall sensation & security.

They say, that smell is our most powerful sense, conjuring up memories, & entire atmospheres with a single pertinent sniff. I cannot smell a leather jacket without remembering the day my hubby proposed to me, wearing—that’s right all you bright people—his leather jacket. And I don’t just picture the memory, but all the sounds & sights & feelings from that day encompass me. That’s how powerful our sense of smell is, linking us to all our other senses.

So how does this tie in to the writing life? Well let’s say  if it doesn’t, our writing may as well be part of the hog reports on the local farm channel. Flat. Flavourless. Footsore.

It’s easy to remember to include sight in our writing, describing people & places, sometimes to gluttonous excess, leaving us reeling & holding our gut. That’s important— after all readers want to see what we picture when we write. What about our other senses?felix-the-cat-5-senses

Taste—If a character eats Belgian chocolate, are they going to just chomp it up & there’s an end to it, or are they going to savour it to which point we also begin to drool, rereading the passage, to the detriment of the book in our lap, whose ink begins to run.

And hearing—Unless the protagonist is deaf, he must hear things. Why tell us he is hanging around outside a stadium that’s hosting a rock concert, when letting us hear through him, the bass booming through his eardrum & out the other side, drowning out his ipod, & making him yank out the earbuds.

That same fellow would feel the vibrations of the rock concert, through the soles of his boots, & by leaning against the building his head begins to throb. Thus we also feel what he does.

Should sense of smell be only a doormat for our other eloquence? If our protagonist brushes against a lilac bush in bloom, they’d have to be half dead not to smell the overpowering fragrance of thousands of tiny misty mauve buds.

And touch? If our protagonist reaches into a dark closet for a raincoat & touches instead something wet & furry, that moves, ooh, then what? I want to feel through her fingertips so I too can squirm.

Reading is for many, a house of horrors, or pleasures. The readers enter. They’ve been told there are very interesting goings on in there. You know, book jacket stuff, very hush-hush, full of suspense.

So there they are, totally in the dark, all senses on ALERT, feeling, sniffing, listening. Reaching about, squinting, anticipating something—anything. They’re in with flared, flapping nostrils, eyelids stretched wide enough to drop the eyeballs out, hands cupped behind ears, to catch those flighty waves of sound, fingers tingling & feet feeling for footing, & in some cases, tongues flicking in & out, licking the wall. (Well, maybe not.)

Sooo—as writers, let us not disappoint.

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Christina’s motto is:
“Some people see things as they are and say why? I dream things that never were and say, why not?” (George Bernard Shaw)

Conversations with Filmmakers

The Winnipegfilm festival 1 Real to Reel Film Festival took place last week and they needed a small army of volunteers. When the plea went out for drivers to chauffeur filmmakers around town, I signed up. I thought, “Hey, I’ve got a mom limo and tons of chauffeur experience” (soccer, piano lessons, youth group, …).

To be honest, while I wanted to help, I had an ulterior motive. I was curious. I’ve done a lot of research into the publishing industry, but knew nothing about the film industry. So, I had a pile of questions. Why film? How did they get started? How difficult is the industry to break into? Just to name a few.

The Vehicle-A short film by Corbin Saleken
The Vehicle-A short film by Corbin Saleken

I would have a few filmmakers locked in my car for a half hour each way—plenty of time to ask my questions. Cue the maniacal laughter. Mwahahaha!

I learned a lot over the weekend and found that authors like me, struggling to get noticed, and these up and coming filmmakers have a lot in common.

  • Newer and cheaper technology has made it easier for anyone to get into the game, but has also made competition fierce. Filmmakers struggle to get their work in front of an audience.
  • Like writers, these filmmakers work tirelessly to polish their product and then send it off, hoping it will get plucked out of the slush pile and make it into a festival. Getting into a festival is an honour, even if they don’t win any awards.
  • I also learned more about the importance of the “N” word. That’s right. Networking. Shiver. Scary stuff, I thought. I was a keen observer, watching what these filmmakers did and how they did it. And it doesn’t seem so scary anymore.
Missed Connections- A short film by Rebecca Riley.
Missed Connections- A short film by Rebecca Riley.

The moment that probably impacted me the most was at the awards ceremony. The director of a runner-up winning documentary came to the front to receive his award and spoke about the years he spent making the film and how he dreamed of seeing it on the big screen in front of an audience. I understood that desire. I thought of how satisfying it must be to have the opportunity to share your blood, sweat, and tears with others and I imagined what it would be like for me—to have even a hundred people enjoying my years of toil. It would make it all worth it.

We all—writers, filmmakers, musicians—can feel lost in an endless slush pile, as numerous as the sand on the seashore. But, we take small steps. We persevere, taking much more rejection than acceptance, hoping one day we can share our art with an audience—to have others touched, entertained, or thrilled by our work.

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Melinda Friesen writes novels for young adults and middle grades, as well as short stories. She is a full-time mother of four and part-time student at the University of Winnipeg.

Melinda Friesen authored Enslavement, a young adult dystopian novel, released by Rebelight Publishing. When she’s not writing, Melinda works as marketing director and acquisitions editor at Rebelight Publishing Inc.
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