The Tales of a Contemporary Romance Writer

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Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Talkin' Tuesday!

Hello all and welcome back to Talkin' Tuesday! I have a new look to my blog and some new guests. As many of you know and many of you don't, I'm a Creative Writing Teacher. I have two groups, one's an Adult class and the other a Young Adult. I find them both fun and fulfilling--especially when my students really get into the assignments. For this particular one, I asked them all to blindfold themselves for an hour. LOL I know what you're thinking and you're dirty minded! Not saying I didn't think of it myself, but that kinda fun will have to be another time. *bites lower lip while thinking of all sorts of fun things to do* However, this lesson was to learn to use your senses (with writing)--something many writers forget to do when weaving their craft. This is what two of my adult students had to say. LOL I hope you enjoy and try this exercise yourself, it really is a helpful tool. And, an exciting one when done right!

by Theresa Hickson
I saved the sink of dirty dishes for my hour blindfolded. I figured it would be do-able, interesting and I wondered how clean the dishes would be.
I have a special place to put knives, so that wasn’t an issue; I needn’t fear to slide my hand into soapy water blindly. Still, it was slow going, feeling for each dirty item, stacking it to one side so I could stopper the sink, then fill it with water. I needed to use both hands for each piece, and I feared they would all fall to the floor. Then I reversed the process, each piece back into the sink, now filled with soapy water, using both hands. It seemed to take ages. Washing, rinsing were the same; I needed to use both hands for each glass, fork, and bowl. Then stack them to dry.
I brushed my teeth afterward, which was weird, but they felt dirty to me. That was an adventure. The paste went everywhere. I’m not sure how much I put on the brush but it was halfway down the brush handle and running down my chin. It was gross, and I felt awkward inching across the room for a towel to wipe my face.
Then I stepped on the cat while carrying clean laundry into the living room. I didn’t chance the basket; I carried the clothes in my hands. After folding, I crawled around for the cat, to apologize, but neither one would come when I called. I knew that they must be standing feet away, staring at me. I crawled around and found Charlie, but that wasn’t the one I stepped on.  
I sat for a while on the carpet until she came to me. It’s weird interacting with a cat you can’t see. I knew better than to sweep my hand on the floor to reach for her. She’d attack me, of course. I found myself reaching out from shoulder height, wrist first, fingers extended up- so I couldn’t poke her in the eye- each sweep down gently toward the floor. About 5 reaches told me she was out of reach. I had to wait for her to rub up against me to know she was ready to be petted.  
When that got old I gave up and decide to listen to TV. I thought I could do it alone, but I needed help. My daughter had to tell me if it was switched from DVD to cable or not and then to explain why I still couldn’t hear anything. I listened to TV until the timer went off.  
Observations and other thoughts

What I didn’t know while I was unable to see was that my daughter had abandoned her other interests and had been silently shadowing me the entire hour.
Once the eye mask was removed, I retraced my steps to see what I had missed. Great glops of toothpaste in the sink, foamy bits of food clinging to the sink because I didn’t think to rinse it. My clothes folding was laughable, by the way; but the dishes looked great, to my surprise.
It was at this point that my daughter confessed that she had been inspecting my work and returning the not-so-clean dishes back to the soapy water. Apparently, I rewashed the blender lid twice and didn’t realize it. Which is weird, because I had felt very focused the entire time I couldn’t see; but I didn’t know that I washed the same item three times. I remember thinking that I was completely in the moment, totally absorbed. Clearly, I was wrong.
I also noticed that my posture sucks. My neck hurt the entire time I was doing the dishes. At first I figured it was because I was craning forward to make up for lack of sight, but then my hips started to ache also.  
I noticed that I was hunched at all times, correcting myself constantly whether sitting, lying or standing.
Another thing I noticed? TV commercials don’t sound louder than the regular programming, and aren’t nearly as annoying when you can’t see them.  And soap operas? Not bad. Much less annoying but just as funny.
By: Mia Stoll
March 3, 2011

Have you ever wondered what it would be like if you lost one of your five senses? Of them all - smelling, tasting, touching, hearing or seeing - which one would be the most devastating to lose in your life? I had the chance to test this out when my Creative Writing teacher assigned a blindfold exercise. And, I’ll tell you, losing my sight would be the worst for me.
 I was half scared, half excited to try this exercise. That is probably why I waited until the night before the assignment was due. But, alas, the time was upon me. I set the timer on the stove for one hour and fixed my blindfold in place.
First, I felt my way into the bedroom so I could change my clothes. I was disoriented, so I had to sit down. The tag in the pants prevented me from putting them on backward. I chose a zippered hoodie because it was just plain easy. I rummaged around in the closet feeling the different textures of my shoes. My fur-lined suede clogs smelled faintly of leather and felt the nicest. I found my pair of summer sneakers. You know, the kind with the air holes in them? It was about 26 degrees Fahrenheit outside, but I was happy to find a matching pair so quickly. I couldn’t put them on until I found a pair of socks which I located by texture. I instinctively knew they were my white, puffy athletic socks. Good thing too, since my sneakers had holes in them.
Once dressed, I felt my way down the hallway toward the bathroom. I had to try this out! Just to make sure I could do it. Two thoughts on this: First, always put the seat down when you are done and your hands will stay dry on your next visit. Second, it’s not so different than going in the middle of night. Admittedly, I prefer the beacon of the nightlight.
As I washed my hands, I thought that if I were a blind woman, I wouldn’t be able wear make-up. I’d probably have really hairy eyebrows too, since plucking would be difficult. On the plus side, a visit to the bathroom goes much faster without the need to primp.
At this point, of all the five senses, I felt, no pun intended, that I had mostly been using two senses – touching and hearing. I needed to explore smell and taste. By the way, the bathroom smelled fine, before and after I used it!
I moved back down the hallway, through the kitchen, and into the living room by feeling my way along smooth walls, wooden cabinets, cool counter tops, and across the refrigerator which has a porous surface. (Note to self: Adjust pictures on fridge that got askew during this exercise.)
Once I entered the living room, I was frightened by all the space. I wasn’t sure which way to go, so I just stopped. I could hear my husband shoveling ash out of the fireplace and noticed the sound the shovel made when it tapped the rim of the ash can. I thought I would be able to smell the ash, but I didn’t.
I made my way toward my husband. No tips or pointers from him! We hugged and I caught a whiff of our laundry detergent on his tee-shirt. The flannel shirt he wore over it was soft to the touch and smelled faintly of wood smoke from last weekend’s fire. Before I left the room, I decided I needed a walking stick. I found an Irish Hurley game stick and figured it would do.  
I slowly made my way downstairs using the stick and the railing to guide me. I counted eleven steps, knowing I would need to remember this for the trip back up. I grabbed a cold beer out of the fridge figuring this is what I would do to experience taste. I ruled out cooking blindfolded since I set the toaster oven ablaze two nights ago. Note: Snow puts out appliance fires!
Immediately, I realized how difficult it was to carry the beer and stick, while busying my other hand to feel my way. I went outdoors and stumbled into the grill, even though I hadn’t so much as sipped my beer yet. I paused to enjoy the cheerful chatter of birds. It was time for my taste test. I noticed the scent of hops before registering the foam that brushed my lips. I took a sip, tasted the heaviness of the lager. I decided drinking beer is more of a multi-sensory experience: scent, flavor on the palate, color, effervescence, and the feel of the cold bottle in hand. I reserved the beer for later and headed back in. Besides I was chilled to the bone!
I made it up the eleven stairs without incident and found myself rummaging in my spice drawer. I wanted to identify six spices. I learned that I needed to shake them to determine if it was flaked or powdered. Then I sniffed them to guess the smell. My culinary self applauded when I realized later that I had gotten them all right. My writer self learned that writing blindfolded is hard.
I had nineteen minutes left. It took almost that long to put the dishes away. I made a mess of the silverware drawer and decided without sight, I would need plastic cups and dishes. But I felt at home in the kitchen. I love to cook, so I think that was my intuition took over. The weird thing was, it took six steps to get from the sink to the cabinets. But, five steps back. Every time.
I stepped outside again and enjoyed the birds chirping and the flutter of their wings as they nestled in the bushes. I heard a squirrel chase evidenced by scampering feet on bark; confirmed by scolding of one squirrel to another. I felt the cold seep in. It had a smell of North winds, but I have no words to describe it. I could hear the ice melting, but felt no sense of spring.
After one hour blindfolded, I was exhausted. I used the last two minutes of the exercise to lie on the couch and listen to the clocks tick. I was thankful when the timer buzzed. 

The most valuable lesson I learned from this experience is the sheer volume of time it takes to do things without sight. Secondly, we often think in terms of having five senses. There is a sixth sense – intuition. It didn’t come into play as often as I thought it would. I had no sense of time or space. However, I had a sense of light near windows, even though I wore a thick eye mask over closed eyes. And, I could feel where the sun shone into a room by the heat that warmed certain areas. Finally, I don’t know what I would do if I lost my sight, but I know I will never take it for granted again.

Thank you Theresa and Mia for share the fun you had! My Young Adults sat in cars as passengers. One, crazy and daring girl, went and walked around the mall with a friend! Others had jokes played on them by siblings, while others attempted their IPods and TV. All and all, I have to say it was a successful exercise. :)

Blindfolded soldier fitting together his weapon - This is... Blindfolded soldier fitting his weapon together.

What did I do with my hour blind, you want to know? I actually sat and listened to the movie, Black Hawk Down. At the moment I'm finishing up edits on a story about a military man dealing with PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder). I was referred to this movie for its sounds and talk. I must say that while the movie was intense when watching it, hearing the bullets and listening to how the men talked to each other while blind, added a new layer to heightening the fright of not knowing what's coming next. I could hear the fear in their voices, the different sounds their weapons make and the undeniable certainty that they were fighting for their lives.
I also walked into a few walls, stepped on a cat and ate some stale chips from the pantry. YUCK! lol

So, what do you do to heighten your senses when writing an emotionally charged scene? After all, we are actually blind when writing. Because we use our eye of imagination, not out sense of sight. 

Have a Sparkling Day!
Rebecca Rose 


  1. One of my contemporary erotic romance books has a blind hero who is an analyst. The heroine is assigned to pose as a patient, then write an expose about him, because her publisher hates him. She has always been able to seduce any man she wants because she is so gorgeous. But this time the man can't see any of her curves or other do you seduce a blind man?

    It was an interesting book to write. I used to pretend I was blind when Mom would take me to the eye dr because my eyes are light-sensitive and the sunlight was so painful when the drops were in my eyes that I kept them closed until the drops wore off. It was, you should pardon the expression, an eye-opening experience.

  2. What a great concept for a story line! I'll check it out. :)
    When I did the 'blindfold' test, I have to say that my first reaction was panic. Uuuugggg I almost didn't do what I assigned!

    Thanks for stopping by, Fiona. Have a Sparkling Night!