The Office

Think like a novelist, write like a poet.

Today I want you to create a space, get to know it, then write about something you find there.


Begin with a distinctive smell. This is for you, to put you in the place. Smell is the most evocative of the senses, hard to call up, but when you get it you have a host of associations. There’s a now-defunct shopping mall. The western entrance smelled of caramel popcorn, very buttery. With that smell, I can remember the feel of the space, the negative space, the height of the ceiling, the empty corner leading to an exit, the echo and rubber squeak footsteps. I can sit on an uncomfortable bench and look in to a department store and out past the parking lot. I could, if I wanted, make myself invisible, set up an invisible desk and chair, and let that be my office. I could get up and walk around, go into the stores, pick things up, give them away, eat things. An orange. fudge pie and a tall milk from the cafeteria. 


Or, there is that smell of coming rain. A beach town boardwalk. An auto garage smells like new tires and old oil rags. A particular piece of city sidewalk…
If the place is loud and jangly, enjoy the noise and chaos, and use that when you write, make the words bump against each other like trash cans.


You aren’t writing about the place, really. That’s just where you are when you are perceiving. I don’t have any idea what you will find. A potato. An exposed roll of film. A muffin that looks like the Virgin. Love. Lovers. A talking squirrel.


Put yourself in a place. Discover.

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