Hidey-Ho Scribblers! J Monkeys here. A crazy thing happened to me earlier this week and I thought I’d share it with you. I woke up at 2:30 in the morning to the smell of cigarette smoke outside my bedroom window. This is especially weird for several reasons:
1. I live in a house with a fenced-in back yard,
2. Nobody in my household smokes cigarettes,
3. Everyone in my household who could smoke was asleep at 2:30 in the morning.
That left only one conclusion – someone sinister was lurking in the yard, smoking to pass the time until he was ready to unleash his evil plan. I tried to wake Hubby-O-Mine, to no success. The dog continued to snore, as well, as I crept around my house, clad only in jammies, peering out windows looking into the darkness, searching for the telltale glow from the red tip of the smoker’s cigarette. I didn’t see anyone, so I went back to bed. Of course I couldn’t sleep. I’ve watched too many episodes of Criminal Minds for that.
After a few minutes of waiting for things to go bump in the night, I flipped on my bedside lamp and read for a few hours. I figured that the lamp would spook our would-be home invader, anyway. Eventually the smell dissipated and I began to think that I had dreamt it.
Around 4:30, I was starting to drift back to sleep, so I figured it was safe and turned the light back off. Everything was fine, until 5:30 when I once again jumped from dreamy sleep to fully awake because it smelled like someone was blowing smoke through my window. This time, I shoved Hubby awake. I wanted to be sure I wasn’t imagining things. He agreed that the air smelled suspicious and even got up and did the peering-through-the-windows thing for me.
We never did see or hear anyone outside. It was a very muggy night, so we decided that a neighbor or someone, was smoking in their yard and the smoke just hung there. Perhaps there was a fire nearby. We live right on the boarder of the next state so it’s very possible that a fire could have happened there and I wouldn’t know about it. But it got me thinking…always rife with trouble, I know.
Do I include enough smells in my writing? They (you know them, right?) say that smells are the strongest memories. I can attest to that. I went to sleep away camp as a child and I LOVED it. I always wanted to be a counselor at the camp, but when I was in high school and college, I couldn’t afford to work for so little money. When I was 27 I found myself with the possibility of a summer off and decided to fulfill that lifelong dream. I interviewed for the job in February and when the director gave me a tour of the facility, I walked into one of the big cabins where the kids sleep. They hadn’t been updated since I had been there last, about 15 years earlier, and after just one whiff, I thought to myself, “Yup, this is what camp smells like!”
But even aside from memories, what about pheromones? I can tell you, again from personal experience, that pheromones are pretty strong, too. Later that same summer, I was on a date with one of the other counselors from that very camp (I now call this fella Hubby-O-Mine, you may have heard of him…). We were at a movie and I couldn’t get over how AWESOME this guy smelled. Not like cologne or something like that…but just the essence of him. Of course, 15 year later and I can’t always say he smells that way – more often it’s some kind of coffee/beef jerky/sweat kind of thing nowadays, but hey – the pheromones got me early on!
Today’s secret: the sense of smell is very powerful – and 20% of a human’s ability to sense. Don’t leave it out!
Today’s question: So writer friends, are you adding enough smells to your stories?