Writing for a new project always takes a bit of research, or bounds of it, depending on the content and type of project. Since this blog, “Steps in Between,” is my journey through writing, I wanted to share the research and preparation steps I have taken for my upcoming poetry project, “Colors.”
To be honest, I have to start pretty far back… to the backseat of my parent’s suburban. My family traveled every summer to almost every state park in the United States. Nature flew past my window as if in a kaleidoscope. You might think we were a family of hikers or mountain climbers, but no. My parents loved to drive on little forgotten roads, just to see where they led. They explored new-found backroads or old highways to take us anywhere and everywhere across the country. And that’s when it began, when colors started taking on new forms in my mind.
As we drove along forest roads, the color green always stood out as the strongest. I would play with my vision, squinting my eyes at the already moving scenery, until the chroma of hue blurred together. But even then, I could never see only one shade of green. I would try to name it the best I could; emerald, olive, evergreen. A single-color name was simply not enough.
The colors were alive. Maybe not in the Synesthesia-style alive… or maybe they were. I do tend to see more in the colors around me. But unlike the neurological condition, I don’t taste them or see them in numbers and months of the year. Well, maybe in months of the year, although, I am not here to diagnose myself. I am only here to share how my “Colors” project has come to be.
The next step for me was defining color. I must isolate something before I can grow it. I need it slimmed down to the bone. So, making my mother (lover of words) proud, I pulled out the dictionary.
Color (defined, Dictionary.com)
the quality of an object or substance with respect to light reflected by the object, usually determined visually by measurement of hue, saturation, and brightness of the reflected light; saturation or chroma; hue.
Definitions continued down the page. There were 29 variations for the meaning of color. This may have caused others to overwhelm, but for my poetry project, I’d found bliss. I had been wanting to write about my fascination with color for a long time. Now I felt I had 29 times an infinite amount of opportunities to do just that.
Where to begin?
I made a word-splash (or brainstorm list) for each definition. Whatever words poured out when considering that particular version of the definition tumbled to the page. Then, I searched up the color names in a Crayola box, there’s a lot of history there since 1903. I also looked into the names of acrylic and water color paints and watched video after video how to mix them just right to get the shade, tint, or tone desired.
After that, it was time to research the symbolism and psychology of color. What do colors mean in our culture, and in other cultures around the world? I found a handy website with lists of every color and their meanings in other countries: http://www.empower-yourself-with-color-psychology.com/cultural-color.html. I can already feel inspiration stretching its tendrils in my direction. Just the contradiction of color symbolism from different places fascinates me. It also helps me understand the feelings I get with colors. They don’t always blend with the assumptions typically associated with the hue. Colors emerge from a deeper place for me.
Finally, it was time to soul-search; to bring out the words and names for colors I hadn’t been able to accomplish in the backseat of my parent’s suburban. Interestingly, they bore names like hope, sorrow, anguish, homelessness, birth, changing seasons, skittering squirrels, sunsets, love…
This is how it became a poetic project. I could find no other way to share my curiosity and abstract views of what colors mean in my life. My wish is that when you read each poem I create over the next six months, you find a place in your heart they can rest for a while. It may not be that you experience color the same way I do, but perhaps you might take a moment to perceive what you are feeling, and what colors arise in your own mind when you notice them more deeply.
All in all, since I was a child, colors have floated around in my mind, speaking to me through emotions and memories. I don’t think I ever knew what to do with them, until I was invited to create a series on Channillo. The concept of “Colors” fell into place. I began researching the meaning of color, names of colors, symbolism of colors, and even asked my friends and family on social media to send me pictures. I see interesting colors when I look at a photo or piece of art, and not always in the way you might expect. This is how inspiration works for me.
My goal, starting on June 1st, is to create a color-inspired poem for my audience through Channillo (and hopefully for all of you), twice a week for six months. That will bring me to December. Ideally, I will have exactly 60 poems… enough for a book. Channillo is a paid site, for example after the first free month, readers can join in a variety of ways (with the highest cost being 4.99/month and access to every genre). It’s relatively inexpensive, and gives you access to a variety of reading you would miss if only looking in a bookstore. The part that impresses me the most? I can opt out of my 80% royalties to a charity of my choice. Since I am from Seattle, and believe homelessness is truly everyone’s responsibility, I am donating to Mary’s Place, where money and support go directly to children and families suffering homelessness.
I hope you will support my endeavors, or at least appreciate the research, steps, and challenge I’m taking on as a writer. Ultimately, I hope to stretch myself and grow in my craft. I suppose the best way to do that is to jump! I wonder if the little girl in me ever saw herself springing into the moving pigment of green out her suburban window. How many stories she could tell…
Writing Advice: Color Me A Story
Choose your favorite color. Make a brainstorm list of every feeling, memory, or experience it reminds you of. Then, check the website listed in my article above to find out its meaning around the world. Blend something from the cultural list with something off your brainstorm list. Can you create a poem with the words or thoughts? Could you do a quick write? Experiment with whatever is on your mind as a warm-up before taking on the manuscript you might really be working on? My bet is that you will open up all your senses to experience abstract ideas in a concrete way. Or maybe you’ll find some interesting concrete examples surface in a more abstract manner. Either way, your writing will be richer for it.
By Celaine Charles, May 20, 2018
https://lqbush.wordpress.com/2013/05/12/untitled-color-wheel/ (color tree art from Lindsey S. Quakenbush)
https://odysseyart.wordpress.com/2016/01/04/watercolor-mix-chart/ (color mixes art by Kelly Roy)
https://fineartamerica.com/featured/color-water-color-painting-sumit-mehndiratta.html (“Color Water Color Painting” by Sumit Mehndiratta… it makes me think of a forest, how about you?)
https://mylifemystuff.wordpress.com/2012/04/26/emotional-and-psychological-meaning-of-colours/ (psychological meaning of colors – wheel)
http://trendpak.blogspot.com/2011/06/american-culture.html (flag colors handprint)
https://tillyrivers.wordpress.com/2011/06/21/happy-summer-solstice/ (Green mother nature art, Tilly Rivers)
https://leadingwithtrust.com/2017/07/09/10-signs-youre-suffering-from-rear-view-mirror-leadership/ (rear-view window forest)
Other images by my iPhone. 😉
Categories: Thoughts on writing...
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