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“You enter the extraordinary by way of the ordinary.” ~Frederick Buechner

Thursday, August 30, 2018

Journal With Impact: Nature Language

Workshop: Six Conversations for Writing Creative Journals

“You present your story in terms of things that can be verified by sensory perception. Sight, hearing, smell, taste, touch—these are the common denominators of human experience; these are the evidence that men believe.” Dwight V. Swain

Before we can interpret our feelings, memories, and emotions to different habitats we are drawn towards, in the past or present, we often need to explore the language that nature’s imagery evokes.

Building a sensory vocabulary helps us to understand and share our experiences with depth to both interpret and enhance emotional connections. One of my favorite and engaging applications came from a workshop I took with author Ethel Herr. She pointed out that any observation is incomplete unless we can track the emotional reaction—both in one-to-one contact and with fictional characters.

We need to develop the essential specific word choices: salty-sour-sweet-bitter. If it smells bad is it like a: rotten egg, a sewer, or a low tide? And we also need to recognize that what smells bad to one person may actually be sweet to another. I discovered that one day when driving with an elderly friend. I smelt something noxious and worried it was my car. I asked if she could smell it and her reply was “isn’t it lovely?” Apparently we were smelling sulfur, which to her reminded her of where she grew up near sulfur springs. She happily inhaled while I attempted not to choke.

To develop and expand a wider vocabulary Ethel Herr suggested choosing a different sense per day and paying close attention to just it. So on Monday notice everything you smell. On Tuesday touch, Wednesday taste, Thursday hear, and Friday see.

Then next to each word on each list expand the possibilities. Again, did something smell rotten? Was it rotten like decaying compost, a humid hiking trail, or a dead fish? What distinguishes each ‘rotten’ smell? Repeat the process for any words that you want more depth to.

Action Steps:

1.     Take the habitat and memory you chose last week and apply Ethel Herr’s exercise to your details. Choose one sense per day and daydream that moment.

2.     What detail surprised you? What made you laugh or cry?

3.     What word best represents your language example?

Share: What two favorite sensory images did you remember?

Read deep, marcy

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"The Seeker" Rachel Marks | Content Copyright Marcy Weydemuller | Site by Eagle Designs
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