In the first, novelist Francisco Goldman describes part of the writing process — specifically, the creation of his novel, partly as a way to deal with the grief of losing his wife. Goldman mentions that when he writes, he feels a “constant presence.”
That’s an excellent description of the creative process. When I’m really focused on it, the story is the presence. I can completely understand how actors get lost in a role, living “in character.” I can get lost in the story and feel it around me, especially when I’m behind a closed door and really concentrating on writing. Like when I mentioned naming a character allows me to meet someone for the first time — that presence starts growing from that moment. Of course, this sometimes gets you some strange looks from the non-writing public.
The second piece, by Derek Haines, is also on the money (plus, if you’re a dog lover, there’s a great puppy picture at the link) — how many times have you smelled something that immediately conjures up a vivid memory? For me, it’s the smell of JP-5, the aviation fuel used by the military. Or a well-worn football. The strength of the connection between the smell and the memory usually evokes (or sustains) that “constant presence” for me.