Writing always begins in the senses—in opening our eyes, ears, nostrils, taste buds, and skin follicles to the landscape around us. If we pay strict attention while we’re out in the physical world, it will give us everything we need to tell our stories.
This dynamic works especially well in an unfamiliar landscape. Walking the streets of a new destination, we wait to feel a glimmer, a vibration, a charge of resonance that says, “Hey, writer, look over here.” Later, we scan those collected glimmers to find a handful that will stick together and draw narratives from our own interior landscapes.
In magnificent San Miguel Allende during the build-up to Day of the Dead, we have the opportunity to enact this process together. We collect sights, sounds, smells, tastes, and textures and do writing exercises that turn those glimmers into vignettes, stories, and personal essays.
As these prose pieces begin to take shape, as they grow to include moments from our past, we demystify some of the essential components of prose writing (image, metaphor, point of view, structure, dialogue, character, and scene, among others) and fashion them into comprehensible tools.
Come armed with pen and paper or laptop, your vast memory banks, your active and engaged senses, and all the things you don’t even know you knew.