Friday, April 20, 2007
Blue, Green, or Turquoise?
My husband and I are writing partners (a whole nother series of blogs in itself) and we are currently revising our manuscript, taking into account comments from our agent. One of her concerns was that the heroine had inconsistent eye-color.
"What is she talking about?" I asked. "Our heroine's eyes don't change color! I read a novel once where the heroine's eyes changed from brown to blue partway through and it really bothered me. We would never do something like that."
He laughed and pointed to the e-mail from our agent. "She says that sometimes we describe the eyes as sea-green and sometimes as turquoise."
I set my hands on my hips. "So? That's the same thing."
Then it hit me. I grew up in New Mexico where turquoise jewelry is a mandatory part of every wardrobe. There, the most authentic and lovely pieces are not treated to maintain their color and so change as they are worn and exposed to air, to sun, to touch. They deepen in hue, they depart from a uniform sky-blue to a shifting palette of greens and blues. Like the sea. That is turquoise.
Our agent's office is on 5th Avenue in New York. She doesn't carry the memory of sun-browned Navajo women sitting on the sidewalk beside their jewelry-strewn blankets, surrounded by silver and gemstones in every hue of the sea.
As I ran a search-and-replace for the word "turquoise" I had to smile. It was another beautiful reminder that a story is a shared dream. Both the writer and reader bring their own history to the page. Their experiences can cast a hundred shades of meaning onto a single word, coloring it with all the hues of polished turquoise.