Discover more from THE LABYRINTH with KP Kaszubowski
Taskmaster and the inexplicable "c" in "scent"
connecting scents to states of being, a much more pleasant writing pathway than waking up as my ornery character [sensual writing prompt + mystical writing prompt at the end]
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I like structures. I especially love contrived structures. For the next few substack posts, I’ll be sharing two pathways for writing. First, I’ll share a sensual prompt—something that uses the body, the senses, the physical self. The second pathway will be mystical—an image, a woo-ey practice, a ritual.
I felt like I was a part of a bad brain swap story.
A few weeks ago I “tasked” my subconscious mind with waking up in my character’s mindset in my sleep.
I’m not delusional if I know I sound delusional.
I give my subby-c mind (still working on the nickname) tasks often. Mostly, it’s a pleading: do some dusting in there while I sleep, please. I’m feeling batty. And s/he’s up for the tasks.
I didn’t know what my character’s “mindset” was, necessarily. I knew:
she was engaged in a roiling throuple with an extraterrestrial lover sans corporeal form and a human man who is not Oscar Isaac.
she liked living in a concrete and glass home.
she swam in the Lake.
she is ~15 years out of a bitter divorce.
I don’t even know her name. (Should I? We’ve seen each other in too intimate of settings not to know each other’s names).
It is important to share the language I used as taskmaster*. That’s likely where I went “wrong.” This is exactly what I asked my subconscious mind to do: hello subby-c, would you kindly do whatever you need to do overnight so that I wake up in the consciousness of my character? Thanks! Outtie!
I should have asked my darling subconscious mind: I want to gain insight into how my character thinks and feels but I do not want to experience her life while I’m living mine.
Because. Fuck. My character. She’s salty. I felt myself “style” people I saw out in public. I was adjusting perfect—emphasis on perfect—strangers’ outfits to be less sloppy, less covered in dog hair.
I used the word sloppy in my mind!
She/I was too cold or too hot. She/I didn’t get enough sleep. She/I did, in fact, mind that my friend was 1 minute late to our meet-up.
The positives: she has great posture. She thinks about it a lot. She is delightfully horny. She takes her time to order food from the cafe that does not have dairy in it because her tummy does not like dairy. My tummy appreciated her mindfulness.
*I like this show. Do you?
Scent Stating(TM) + Embodying the Character
Two Springs ago, I went through an in-depth training in Neuro-Linguistic Programming and Hypnotherapy, amongst other subconscious healing modalities, with the focus on coaching others in mental wellness and subconscious mind empowerment. I didn’t really use this practice as a coach. Whoopsie daisie!
I mostly found an access to myself I’ve been seeking for a long time— through reiki attunement, divinatory devotions, writing, anything. I saw that I get to craft my consciousness. I get to choose how I organize language in my mind and, therefore, I get to choose how my life goes.
My trainer waswho has since become a dear, dear friend. She translated one of the key subconscious techniques (anchoring, it is called, if you want to look into it!) into a scent-based pathway.
The addition of “c” in scent is unexplained, etymologically.
By using an essential oil and choosing a desired state of being, all of us can create a strong association—so strong that when we smell that scent, we embody that desired state of being quickly. For me, “quickly” is basically “instantly.” While in training, Jenna guided me through the exercise for the first time. I was inside of a novel project and struggling to make my chapter goals, so I asked her if we could create a scent anchor for my writing sessions.
I chose gingergrass as my essential oil. My state(s) of being (because I can’t just choose one!): “sink in” + “acuity” + “calm.”
We also connected the song Bang Bang by Dizzy Gillespie* to these states of being. Jenna asked me if I already used a song to get into my writing session and I was like I DEFINITELY DOOOOOOO! We cackled through the exercise because I couldn’t help but wiggle while listening and sniffing the scent.
*I realized a summer later that I may have chosen this song because it is played over the West Wing moment where (SPOILER ALERT!!!!: Josh and Donna kiss).
Gingergrass is still my first step when I get ready to write. But now the association with the scent feels a little too specifically for that novel project I was working on. This weekend, my dear-hearts Erica and Tori and I “installed” a new scent for our new writing projects. We took our time finding the right scent for the state of being we want most while writing.
This wheel was a great instrument for that:
Without looking at the wheel, I first grabbed the patchouli essential oil I had on hand. I rarely use this! And when I saw on the wheel that patchouli was matched with “Balanced” and read further in the book that patchouli is an oil of physicality, of becoming fully present in the body, of tempering obsessive personalities, of releasing judgments and issues related to the body— I found how my character and I can connect. I don’t want to wake up as her anymore. I want to give us what we’re both looking for. I saw that she, too, just wanted to become fluid in her body.
I’ve been using the oil for about a week. On Monday, I rolled it on my wrists with carrier oil. I feel like I wrote the scenes I had been avoiding. On Wednesday I diffused it and the apartment was a-waft in it for the day. And I definitely wrote the scenes I was previously avoiding.
I have gingergrass and Dizzy Gillespie for that novel I will not finish. Don’t make me! I have patchouli for my alien sex epic.
Sensual Writing Prompt:
Get thee a scent! Connect it with the state of being you want most when you write! Use often! Be merry!
Mystical Writing Prompt:
The neighborhood cat. A meditation.
You have just experienced an abberation, a misfire of the brain, a trick of the eye.
You thought you saw a mythical beast just to the left of you. But when you checked to see what was there, it was just the neighborhood cat. You call her Dewy. The other neighbors call her Jot. Her aesthetic is greeting you with woman-screams that are supposed to be meows. You come out back before dawn to find some quiet before everyone else in the house wakes. But she won’t stop making that awful sound. You fear she’s going to wake your guests who sleep in the back bedroom. She’s standing up on the overturned lawn chair. She is so excited to see you but you think she wants something from you.
Some people see a neighborhood cat and their first thought is to call an authority. To find its owner. To ask the person walking their dog at this god-forsaken-hour what you should do. Of course they shrug and keep walking.
And some people kiss their two big fingers, take them to the sky, and let living beings lie. But why?
Access the part of you that requires a certain set of circumstances in order to feel safe. Does every creature on this good earth require these circumstances, too? Locate the creature that thrives with a looser concept of home. Locate the creature that considers a wider radius than a house to be their home.
Name these parts and take them down on the page.
Summer Summer Summertime | Future Casting:
I am guiding a virtual 40-day "imaginary pilgrimage" writing bivouac early this summer called Write The Labyrinth. In a few weeks, I’ll talk about how this imaginary pilgrimage will be structured and how you can participate. Less workshop and more like a vessel for generating the first draft. Less critique and more joyful sharing + somatic rituals that boost that writing process.
Might you be looking for a way to write The Book (you know, the one that has been a sparkle in your eye for a while…) with the support of devoted writing community, stimulating prompts [with a mystical and sensual bent], and grounding virtual calls?
What would support your writing the most this summer? What kind of environment do you like to write your projects in? I’m curious to hear from you about the good, the meh, the wishlist experiences when writing in community.