The colours of life are many and varied, this is something we learn as we travel the journey. If you have followed on Facebook me over the past few months you will be aware that I have been busy renewing this old house of ours. Putting that final coat onto our bedroom walls, gave me a great working title for a new article, “its orange glow”. Spending much of that time thinking also gave me some of the content.
Struggles of Life
What colour is the bedroom wall? It has been all sorts of colours over the past week, but that also reminds me of the struggles of life. Perhaps best described as the varying colours of life.
You have an idea how you wish something to look. In this case it was a colour to reflect the morning sunshine, as it streamed into one of the two windows. Representing one of the colours of life for us. One of the windows faces east so catches the earliest morning rays of the sun both in the winter and summer. The other faces south, so it catches the morning sunshine only in winter, but the rest of the year catches the sun all the way till late evening.
Before painting I had spent many days repairing parts of the wall, sanding down the patches left when the insulation workers filled it, repairing blemishes etc. Before painting I thought it would be a good idea to sand it all down to aid paint absorption, leaving a thick layer of dust over everything. The rate of absorption can, at times, be something of a struggle. It could be described as a part of the colours of life. I knew this from one of the earlier walls I had worked on. Despite all the preparation the paint on that earlier wall absorbed into a cracked eggshell style, blobs of perfect colour, with a jagged edge around each. Approximately 1 cm square leaving the colour of the bare wall shining through.
This time it was different. The orange glow colour reacted with the earlier light green shade to turn a very odd shade. This had little to do the intended colour. It was uniform across the walls, except in the areas where I had completed some work, filled holes etc. These areas turned the perfect colour. I needed an extra pot of paint and more layers to finish the job. Now it is perfect. Just as intended. The right colours of life.
Thoughts While Painting
Nobody said writing was simple. In fact the challenges of putting pen to paper reflect the challenges that everyone faces in life. I am not talking here about writer’s block, there is always plenty to write about. You sit and write a sentence intending to craft something profound. Yet when complete it remains plain and simple, moderately inspiring. Part of the problem is word choice, or perhaps how to tell the story, or where to begin.
Life has many shades of colour, yet in writing we use a black-on-white medium to represent what can received through a multitude of senses. Do you remember that picturesque village you once visited? As you look out from the village green across the square you receive a multitude of sensual inputs. Each of these helps you enjoy your time here, whether you have stopped for a moment or a lifetime. How do you turn those colours, sounds, smells into a memory?
The human mind will store them all in such a way that we can always recall them.
I remember the English village where we lunched at the pub next to the village green. Opposite fifteen men, dressed in white, played cricket. The green was immaculately kept with grass the perfect length. Then there was the flash of a bat, a shout, a decision, clapping, and a sixteenth man walked onto the field. The batsman had poorly angled the ball towards mid-off and caught out, causing the momentary commotion. As the oncoming batsman passed the one leaving the field it was clear that a warning or instruction passed between the men. It was at that moment that our lunch arrived, bringing with it wonderful smells the assault the nose. “Ah! Just what we needed.” Was the thought expressed.
Colours of Life
The beauty of relaying a memory is that many people will have similar memories. Readers will to some extent fill in the blanks from their own memories. The description can be as precise as we wish it, or left loose, allowing the reader to link their own experiences to the story. If you have never seen an English village green you may have some knowledge (from films or TV) to fill in the gaps. If you know nothing about the game of cricket then you know just about the same as half of England. For this story all that is relevant is that there are two teams playing and both clad in white, the umpires wore white coats. Knowing nothing about cricket does not diminish the value of the story. The cricket match simply aids the picture.
As we moved into the era of the computer I have long wondered about the value that colour would bring the written word. I discussed this with an early piece on this blog.
Hyperlinks on pages have colour, sometimes page titles (or sub-titles) may also be coloured, but it is rare that we use colour in normal written text. There are of course some challenges, such as those that experience red-green colour-blindness. Perhaps emotions could be conveyed through colour, e.g. this plum, or violet, colour could be used to represent anger. Possibly this blue could be used to show calm. Yet we would have to agree on a standard to adopt. One area I think it could help is with characters talking in novels, especially where there are several pages worth of discussion between two people.
Some educators use colour to help children understand the parts of speech. An idea I do applaud — imaginative use of new technology.
Moment of Clarity
As I painted there was a moment when the dry wall started to resemble the desired colour. There were some shadows showing, but the final coat was near. I may have had to buy an extra can of paint but the end result was now in sight. That is so with writing. Once committed to, the project must be finished.
How would we change the colour of writing? Writing can be colourful, yet remain black on white. Through early VDU screens we tried green on black and amber on black but I think most people will recall how unsatisfactory those technologies were. People love colour. There is no mistaking that fact. The challenge with printing a book in colour is one of cost. Readers do not wish to pay more for their reading material. Yet with blogs and e-books there is no additional cost in using colour, just the will (or desire) to use it.
For now, I see colour as a device to give clarity. Nothing more. I do encourage the use of colour. In some respects the colour of the language can be associated with our upbringing, perhaps where we were born. An Englishman may use different tones than an American, but we still use the same language to convey our ideas. That is important, even when there are minor differences. What are the colours of life for you? Do you embed them in your writing?
Other Related Material
Another colourful step. Just as I had finished writing. After completing the first edit. The internet connection crashed. Talk about writing lessons from life…
You may find the following material useful:
- Consistency, Mood and Publicity – The Social Challenge
- What’s in a Name? Think Rare Origin for GobbledeGoox
- Will you Unlock Your Potential as a Blog Writer?
- Can I teach you Everything I Know?