writing with synaesthesia

This is as big as I can make the font. Any more and it feels like I am breathing through earth. How to describe synaesthesia even to those who may have it? The alphabet does not sit only on my tongue, but in my hands and in my throat. It bulges and bustles, and I try always to make it as fine-boned as possible, for the sake of my real comfort.

How to describe the heart of a woman who learned her poetry from trees and shadows?




There is a borderland where I bring my rain-soaked stories and you bring your needs, and somehow we figure out a give-and-take that hopefully provides value to each of us. I am growing old, I am stranded through with a grey that some people say is silver but I think is sky-coloured like out west, where the wind makes an elegy for its lost rivers far beneath the sea. Many things I can tolerate better than I ever did before. Other things have become more important, such as the weight of words, the space I have to breathe.

Big words, voluptuous fonts, feel like I am filling myself with rocks. I can not read them on other websites. I can not use them on my own without becoming literally, just a little, queasy. I know a woman who feels the same way about orange. How I manage a weblog, let alone entire books, within all the thorns and walls of synaesthesia, I really don't know. I guess I just pick up a silence and run with it, gathering words wildly to fill it, for as far as I can. And then the corner of an F will stop me, or the sudden bitter taste of a syllable.

As difficult as it is to describe the synaesthetic experience, I find it even more difficult to believe not everyone experiences elements of it. Do you truly not see numbers in a particular set map form? Do you not feel words in your body? Does sound not have a shape to you? Numbers and letters no colour and mood? There may be times when, as a writer, I am hampered by synaesthesia (such as when I must write on a left-leaning angle ... this is why I am grateful for keyboards!) but I can not imagine life without the enrichment of this experience.

And that is why I apologise for your struggling eyesight, truly I do, but I can't get the text any larger than this.

11 comments:

  1. On most, probably all, computers it is possible to enlarge a web page, or set preferences for font viewing size, so I am sure most people can alter what they see here to their own needs and preferences.

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  2. {{hugs}} dear: on my iPad I can make the screen zoom in on what I want to read or look at, and this then embiggens the font nicely, no worries
    :-)

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  3. One of my favorite novels in recent years was The Moon Sisters by Therese Walsh. One of the sisters in the story had synaesthesia. I thought of you when I read it.♥

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  4. My oldest daughter has synesthesia, but so far it just seems it's numbers. They have colors and seem to run in families and often they just will not do what she needs them to. It makes math challenging.

    Your small delicate font matches your words, spare and elegant, a little misty (unless I enlarge the page), but kind of fairy-like.

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  5. Interesting. I experience nothing of the kind, in fact I seem to have more blocks instead of things running together. For instance I can't work with my hands and talk or listen at the same time. I muddle either one of them up. Talk to me while I cook and there will be blood in your salad. While I drive: I forget to use my blinkers. I can't flow back and forth between the everyday tasks/socializing and my creative self/space, I need time to purge my head and body from noise before I can feel my inner world. Only when I'm alone and in silence do I feel relaxed and "free", so perhaps the sensory overload problem you get with fonts are similar.

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  6. I suspect myself of having a touch of synaesthesia related to the shapes of words as they're spelled on the page -- the sequence of letters lights a sort of mental image or mental impression of tactility or kinetics which is sometimes but not always related to the meaning. Similarly-spelled words light similarly-spelled images: my impressions of "lady" and "ladle," "offer" and "office," are very close to each other. I only get it when reading the words on the page, not hearing them.

    The main consequence for me is that I almost never misspell anything (I do mistype!) and I can very quickly pick out misspelled words from a wall of text that I didn't write. As a downside, I can be compulsive about it. Sometimes I walk past a poster on the wall and glance at it, and as I continue on I am bothered by the perception that somewhere on that poster -- which I didn't *read* -- there was a misspelled word somewhere. And then I have to go back and find the misspelling to scratch the itch. It's like the words that are spelled wrong don't look right -- they are somehow highlighted, or they are like a puzzle piece that's put in backwards.

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  7. i've had synaesthesia all my life. it was a surprise to me to learn that not every one had colors assigned to letters, or linked to scents, or similar things. but then i was also surprised that people said rocks had no smell. everyone's sensory array is different, which is a good thing, i imagine.

    keep your fairy font as it is what suits you, and no worries. i can put on glasses, or figure out a way to enlarge the screen. one wouldn't want a cantankerous font size coming between you and your words, not for the world, dear.

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  8. I think I have a touch of it, too, but it's hard to put my finger on all the ways it manifests. I think my brain needs to sort things into visual patterns sometimes. For example, I have always "seen" the months of the year in a certain way. The "calendar" in my head is a list, that runs down to August, then loops up to September. I don't know if the comment formatting will illustrate what I mean:

    January September
    February October
    March November
    April December
    May
    June
    July
    August

    Anyway, I find all the various manifestations of it fascinating.

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    1. My visual calendar, ever since I learned of the concept as a child, is a circular "strip" going round counterclockwise. So January at 11 etc. If I zoom in to view it, I'm ON the circle, like seeing it as a road ahead of me. I also can't get used to digital clocks, I can use them just fine, but they are translated to a round clock face in my head.

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  9. In this I feel a peaceful recognition. I believe I know a couple of synaesthesia's many sisters - scent and sound who for me are entwined. It's why I feel that composers of music and perfume are twin-souled.

    When I visit you here I feel at peace. I don't struggle with fonts, but I do find a deep sense of rest and relief here, and unravelled threads. It all makes sense. Because this is how poetryis conjured and woven. xx

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  10. Thank you for sharing this part of yourself. I've never heard of synesthesia, but I want to know more about it. I don't mind the font, because I find it beautiful and not hard to read. I feel a lot. It's almost as though I read the world through feeling, which has been a recent discovery for me. I mean that everyone around me don't experience the world in the same way :)

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