Friday, February 5, 2010


My world is color coded. This is something I never really realized until I read an article on synesthesia and discovered that I am a "synesthete." Synesthesia, which occurs in approximately one out of every 2,000 people, occurs when the brain connects two seemingly disparate things. The most common form involves color: days of the week, letters, numbers, or months may stimulate a particular color in someone's mind. Other forms link taste or smell with other things, such as the sense of touch or with musical notes. Quite often members of an immediate family will share a particular form of synesthesia, although the associations may not match up (e.g., the letter A is blue to one person but yellow to another).

For me, numbers are most vividly connected to color, with months less strongly so. Doing a Sudoku puzzle is easy when I can look at the puzzle and "see" which color is missing. A friend of mine sees the color-number association so strongly that she remembers phone numbers by remembering the way they "look" in her mind.

Each morning I write morning pages—three pages of free-association writing (I am working my way through Julia Cameron's The Artist's Way, which I highly recommend)—and I write the date at the start of each session. I am continually amazed by the impact this small act has on my mood. A date associated with colors that I like makes me happy, one with dreary colors brings me down. And the colors stimulate other ideas in my mind, small nuggets that often develop into story ideas.

The impact of color has become even stronger of late, as we live in a snowy, monochromatic world of white and gray. I find myself craving color. Not just waiting for spring but thirsting for the bright yellows, purples and greens of early spring flowers and plants. In fact, I crave color so much it has determined the location of my next picture book adventure story: Scotland, a verdant world richly cloaked in every shade of green.

And for the times when I cannot escape into my colorful stories, I can gaze at the the multi-colored snowflakes the children and I made a few weeks back. Anything to keep me afloat until spring comes. I keep telling myself that each day brings us one day closer.

1 comment:

  1. Alison,
    I understand your need for spring and color as that is my need too. I think that's why gardening is so important to me as a way of creating a colorful canvas. I don't associate color with numbers (it sounds interesting). I do see winter as brown and way too long where we live in Colorado. As the days lengthen it gives hope of a spring soon to come.