April 14, 2014

Scent-Free Writing - Pam Mytroen

What I want my readers to feel

I have been known to get so caught up in a movie that I will yell out loud in the theatre. I have squeezed my popcorn bucket and hollered at Liam Neeson, "Get out! Get out of the car!” and fervently screamed "Please, please grab the gun!" 

Both times I noticed my teens had left the theatre before the lights came back up. So, naturally, when I first began writing I felt my mission was to evoke a dramatic response from my readers. They would pull kleenex after kleenex from the box and stuff their fist in their mouth to stop the sobbing.  They would sit back in their chair and shake their heads in awe at my finely crafted pieces.  

After a few published articles I waited for my inbox to fill with notes of thanks, or for the phone to ring. Thankfully I had four children to take care of so I got yanked back to reality pretty fast. Granted, three people did say a very quick thank you for my writing when I spotted them at the local drugstore, after I trapped them with my shopping cart in the "Depends" section. One lady even said that without my writing in the paper, it was not worth reading. (I have a feeling that she yells in theatres and spills her popcorn too). But most people didn’t even know I was writing. In fact, they are still surprised when they discover that I have articles and stories published. Hmmm . . . not exactly the soulful applause I had hoped for. 

Then one day something happened that changed my approach to writing. I still have the scar. I had opened the file of an interview I had written, wanting to remind myself of my outstanding talent, and pat myself on the back again. I hadn’t finished reading the first 3 lines before I was so moved I nearly bit my lip in half to stop the tears. Between sobs I mumbled, "I can’t believe I wrote this garbage!” In my attempt to impress, to draw a tear, I had layered heavily perfumed phrases, one on top of the other. In today’s world, my writing would not have been allowed in most public buildings due to allergies and sensitivities. People would have had to bring their nasal spray along every time they read my stuff to clear the sinus headaches and stuffy noses. Purple prose, I believe it’s called, had so clouded my writing that even if my readers had cried from the sheer beauty, the most they would have benefitted was an olfactory catharsis.

These days what I want my reader to feel is connection. Just to understand what I’m trying to say. I go for the simple wording when possible, and leave the lotions and perfumes in the desk drawer.

I’m happy with a much more sedated response now. A nod of the head is sufficient, a moment of enlightenment, or a resolve to make a small change in their lives. Oh I suppose I wouldn’t protest if they did a spin in their computer chair or even enjoyed a chuckle or two. A scene I like to imagine from my readers, instead of sneezing off the perfumed-prose, is to see them lifting their hands in praise to a majestic Creator or bowing their knee to an amazing Savior.  I don't corner people anymore with my shopping cart, but I wouldn't object either if they yelled out loud and spilled their popcorn while reading my writing. It sure would be nice, though,  if they sent an email to let me know, because after all, my children are grown now and I have time to sit all day waiting for the "ding" in my inbox. 

Pam Mytroen



  1. Wonderful Pam! I love having a smile on my face first thing in the morning, and yes, information to digest as I go about my day. Great post!

  2. I'm a 'baby' writer. thank-you for sharing experience, wisdom and laughter...here's a twirl in my chair for you!

  3. Love this Pam,
    Connection is the key - to other writers as well.
    Blessings to you,

  4. Oh my you said it so well. I have never heard the term, "purple prose"--but I know what you're talking about. Even a sedated response is encouraging so keep writing!

  5. Ha, ha, thank you Bobbi, Janet, Janis and Connie for your comments. You know I am waiting here all day for the email notifications, yes?

  6. This was definitely worth a chuckle and a sigh, Pam. I laughed with you, but I'm sorry there isn't any sticky popcorn near my iMac. So no spills, but I find your writing engaging and I smile, because I too enjoy a response.

    Love your conversational, lilting humour-with-a-message piece. I felt engaged. I laughed. I identified. No tears or nasal spray.
    Thanks, Pam

  7. Just the mental image of you yelling at the screen has made my day. Thanks, Pam.

  8. If I had popcorn in my hand while reading this I would have definitely spilt it :) Very well written and engaging Pam. What an impeccable job of getting the point across about connecting with the reader!

  9. Hey Sharon, Carol , and Melanie - it is always so nice to hear from you! Pam

  10. Oh Pam, I LOVED this piece! Especially the fourth paragraph....laughed out loud! You made it seem like you were reading something so deeply emotional, that it brought you to tears, but then you drop the punch line, "I can't believe I wrote this garbage." Hahahahaha...still laughing! Great writing!

  11. Ha, ha, what fun Linda! And I LOVE the comment you left on Tracy's blog about how God expresses himself in such variety. That is such a good way of putting it. What joy there is in God's family and to get to know God more and more as we see himself revealed in our brothers and sisters. I wish there was a like button on this blog!

  12. Pam,

    You made me LOL in quite a few places. I could just see your 'victim' trapped in the Depends aisle, and of course, I loved that great set up in the 4th paragraph.

    Does that count for a proper 'soulful' response to your writings? After all, laughter does make the pill of self-revelation go down much easier.

    We so enjoy your postings.


  13. Pam this was such a funny piece - you certainly connected with me! I thank god that we continue to grow as writers!


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