I woke up in the middle of the squishy soft clouds that are my feather pillows. My down comforters were scrunched around me. It’s Saturday, so I stayed a while. Now I’m up drinking coffee and the cat is beside me. His fur is smooth and silky, his vibrating body telling me how joyful he is feeling. I am sitting in one of the armchairs in my living room, and I stroked its arm. It has a texture like suede, and it feels so comfortable. I am sunk deep in the cushions.
I’m a very tactile person. I use all my senses, but I definitely experience the world through touch. When I go shopping for clothes I sample all the fabrics with my fingers, particularly if they look interesting. Nothing comes home with me unless it feels good, no matter how cute it might be. I love to indulge my sense of touch.
I adore lotions and bubble baths, that slippery feel as the potions coat my skin. Finger paint is bliss, and I enjoy playing with clay even though I am not artistic with it. Three-dimensional art is somewhat baffling to me, but I love squishing the artistic material back and forth. For me, that’s enough.
This is something I try to think about when I write, too. It’s important to make a rounded world for your reader, somewhere that feels fully alive. We experience the universe as sensual beings, and so should our characters. What does your story smell like, feel like, taste like? A lot of stories are strong on the visuals and nothing else. I’ll understand a dresser a lot better if your narrator strokes the top, feels the grain in the wood. Does the lemon polish still linger in the air? Perhaps the drawers make a gentle sound as they glide open and closed, or maybe it tends to slam shut no matter what you do. My grandmother’s house always smelled like Ivory soap, and I can’t imagine describing it without telling you that. What are the details of your universe? Go find out.
Your assignment, should you choose to accept it:
41. Indulge your sense of touch today. Sample the textures around you and give yourself a tactile treat—a soft sweater perhaps, or maybe a hand massage. If you are a writer, look back at a story or poem you have written. Are all the senses represented? If not, why not? Make a conscious choice on which senses to include and omit.