Welcome to chapter 11 of Write After Reading: Living the Life Poetic.

This chapter is about thinking outside the box when it comes to using sensory descriptions. Instead of thinking what lonely feels like, we try to imagine what it tastes like, sounds like. By using unusual and unexpected sensory definitions we get a richer experience. I loved the idea behind this chapter. It’s something I’ve been doing with students for years but, as often happens with me, I don’t practice it nearly enough myself.

I will say that kids amaze me when I use this sort of writing with them. When I’m doing a residency, one of the first writing exercises we do is to identify the senses and then brainstorm expected words/phrases to go with them. Then I have them them throw out a word and I write it on the board…say “honesty” and then they have to use each of their senses to tell me what home looks like, feels like, tastes like, sounds like and smells like. I will often preface this exercise with a reading from the fabulous Book of Qualities by Ruth Gendler.

I think this chapter reminded me of what I am trying to accomplish by doing this Write After Reading project – actually WRITING the exercises. Exercises are good for us. Physical ones and written ones. I don’t do them enough. I think what happens to me after reading an exercise such as this is that there’s a soundtrack in my background that says, “Yes, that’s a great idea. Wow, look at those examples. Those people are so creative. If I do these exercises I will be more creative too. Except I hear the dog asking to go outside and it’s almost time to go to the dentist. And I’m not really awake yet….” And so I close the book and forget about it. I’d like to be kinder to myself and take a little time each week to play with some no pressure exercises like the ones in this chapter.

I am off to the dentist to fix a lost crown but when I come back, I think I’ll work on the following exercise:

Who does red love?
What kind of shoes does anxiety wear?
What does jealousy eat for breakfast?
Where does fear live?
What did blue borrow and why?
How does pink sing?
What does truth taste like?

The idea is to answer the questions very fast….don’t over-think them.