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Color your world: Editor's Notes #366
June 01, 2022

Colors answer feeling in man; shapes answer thought; and motion answers will.
—John Sterling

In this issue:

1. Color your world
2. Tickled my funny bone
3. Interesting Web site
4. Writing prompt
5. Letters to the editor

1.Color your world
Three inspirations for this issue:

"Cobalt blue! Why can’t they just say it’s blue?" said a visitor helping my mom colour a picture.

"What a beautiful pink sky!" said a younger adult Audrey.

"You can do better than that!" replied the driver of the car heading into the sunset as he set Audrey on a lifetime of naming colors with more focus.

Perhaps is was Tolkien who characterized a green as poisonous, stopping me in my reading tracks decades ago. It certainly was a fantasy writer. Exactly which pigments would an artist choose to match the author’s image of the forest or the knife blade or whatever was poisonous green? In this case, I realized that the exact hue was not the issue, but the mood, the sense of lurking lethal danger.

How do you, as a writer, color your world?

Color can set a scene, set a mood, delight the imagination. Are the colors in your writing intentional, imaginative, informative?

Although you can overwhelm a reader by including too many colors or by using too many unusual descriptions of colors, my guess is that you may be missing some opportunities to create word pictures that linger for decades. The challenge is to hit the sweet spot of sprinkling a few unusual color names that make a reader sit up and pay attention. Get an A+ when the color name has emotional power as well as visual power.

When you aim too low and are using the eight-color box of crayons of my childhood, I want to be whispering in your ear, "You can do better than that!"

2.Tickled my funny bone
Today I thought of a color that doesn’t exist. But then I realized it was just a pigment of my imagination. --Jojo Jokes

3. Interesting Web site
Here is a link to site about the psychology of color.

4. Writing prompt
How many color names can you come up with in three minutes? five minutes? two weeks? a lifetime?

Start anywhere you like and name the colors you see. You can go for descriptions that get the reader closer to an actual hue or you can go for an emotional response.

When you think you’ve done as much as you can, head for a paint store and behold the array of color names on the sample chips. Steal a few names that please you.

I’d love to see how many distinct color names you come up with. I’d be especially interested in any color names that strike you as a milestone on your journey to precise description.

5. Letters to the editor
The last issue on the changing world of personal pronouns brought multiple responses. Here are two.

Albert Hall, who often contributes items for Tickled my funny bone had a typically humorous response.

Love the article.

If every Tom, Dick, and Harry, did their jobs, writers wouldn’t have to address Dick and Jane. LOL

I often refer to my chipmunks as s/he when writing about them, as I can’t tell what gender they are.

—Albert Hall, "Marysville, MT. It’s the ghost town I am closest to, which is outside of Helena, MT, USA."

And on the serious side…
Thank you for that interesting article. I, too, struggle with "they" and "them" because when I hear them I hear plural and look around for the other person. I found it interesting that you pointed out "you" as being the same whether singular or plural--which led me to think of my sister-in-law's rural relatives. She told a story of them using "youse", as in "What would youse  guys like for dinner?" They defended this as being the plural of "you". I'd always thought it was just how uneducated people said "you"--I didn't know they saw it as the plural! Also, I fairly recently learned that when Americans from the south say "you-all" they're using it as the plural of "you".

But I'm
used to "you" as both singular and plural! I'm not used to "they" as singular. It sounds wrong, and feels wrong, to me. I liked the chart that offered various choices of non-gendered pronouns. I would choose "per, pers, perself" because it doesn't clash, for me, with current usage, it adds to it--one can still keep "they, them, themselves" as plurals. Also, "pers" emphasizes personhood. (I started being uncomfortable with "he" and "mankind" for everything early in childhood.) Frankly, I hope "per" catches on.

PS. If you use "they/them" as singular are you supposed to say "They is..." instead of "they are..."? That sounds really bad! Another reason to vote for "per".

—Anne Miles, Gibsons, BC CANADA

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