Vibrant as Bleeding Beets

When you slice beets very thin, they curl up like rose petals and bleed burgundy from the mesmerizing concentric circles etched in their flesh. The overall effect is one of wooden rose petals weeping vermillion tears on your fingertips.

They are vibrant, just as your writer’s voice ought to be.

I define voice as the way you naturally write about subjects that naturally interest you. Your voice can also be called your niche, because no one else can replicate it nor occupy the spot that is rightfully yours.

But what if I’m not really different from anyone else? you might ask.

You are different.

We have too many strands of DNA to be the same as anyone else. Even identical twins have lived separate lives and see the world accordingly.

You are unique, but the neurotic, approval-seeking side of you disguises your true self in bland, colorless, nonoffensive trappings. Instead of letting the world see your bizarre beets bleed poignantly into the wooden cutting board, you puree them and say it’s ketchup, then change your mind, rub it on your hands, and call it blood for the shock value.

You must excise this habit. You are the only person who can reveal your true self to the world (Read that sentence again). Therefore this task lies with you and you alone.

Your natural voice is vibrant, but putting too many words on the page can dilute it. Slap a word limit on any writing that reads as wishy-washy. The extra sentences and paragraphs you strip away will not be the real you, but rather the beige trappings that cover you up.

Imagine if you were given a thousand words to express your love to someone.

Most people would say basically the same thing.

“I love you so very much. More than you can know. You mean everything to me. I am so grateful for you . . .”

That’s because ten thousand words are more than you need to get the message across. What if you could only use ten words?

“You are my sunshine, my only sunshine.”

“My beloved is to me a sachet of myrrh.”

“How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.”

But even a pithy, potent message can lack spark.

It can lack spark if your chosen topic doesn’t fascinate you. Write with dispassion when brainstorming (yes, dispassion). You will skate through superficial nonsense until something strikes a chord with you. Soon enough, you will be writing so fast that your mind is outracing your fingers and you aren’t worrying about typos. That, for me, is when I know I’ve found a good topic.

Only choose the vegetables that interest you (for me, beets). And make your writing skinny so only the most potent parts remain, because if you never slice a beet super-thin, you’ll never see it transform from a stodgy root vegetable into a stunning rose petal.

26 thoughts on “Vibrant as Bleeding Beets

  1. There’s a dictum for dressing that states, “Before you leave the house, look in the mirror and remove one thing.” The idea is to remove excess and reveal the beauty underneath.
    So too, it is with writing. Too many words distort the message or, at least, lessen it’s impact.

    While I have never, and will probably never eat a beet, I loved the image. Great post, thanks 🙂

    • Interesting dictum! You might like beets broiled in butter, ginger, and sugar. I had those at Christmas one year! However, I’m not a beet evangelist and would be perfectly content if you never tried one. 😀

  2. “Only choose the vegetables that interest you” – unusual writing advice, but I like it.
    I would point out though that not all writer’s voices are spare and Hemingwayesque – strip away the blah, by all means, but if your voice is riotously lavish, let it have full rein. I mean, can you imagine PG Wodehouse edited to be pithy and to-the-point?

    • That is an excellent point. I love PG Wodehouse, so I’m amazed I didn’t think of him. That’s why I’m glad to have you here, Deborah. I need to “cut” what I write. Maybe other people need to “add?”

      • Well, I need to cut AND add. I guess there are three possible problems: too many words, too few words, and just-the-right-amount-but-not-the-right-words. And it’s perfectly possible to have all three problems in the same manuscript. (Can you tell I’m revising at the moment?)

  3. Mmmm, I love beetroot sandwiches. White bread or mixed grain is best. I know only too well about stripping away unwanted words. My original draft was around 120,000 words. Now? 54,000. Probably about right for a YA novel.

  4. Lovely. Simply, truthfully stated. The neurotic, approval-seeking…thrash it until it is gone. Your gift is incredible. Thank you for this post. It is exactly what I needed…a true writer’s slap.

  5. This is awesome advice. Of course, I never did like beats, so perhaps there in lies my struggle, lol!

    Thanks so much for visiting my blog and I’m glad you did, because after reading a few of your posts, I’ll say that you’ve definitely got another loyal reader (I bet that could’ve been cut in half too ~ See I can be horrible that way hence, why I’m ‘forever’ writing a book.) I really enjoy your writing style, as you seem to have found the prefect balance in which, to prepare and entice even the pickiest of people who might not even like to eat their vegetables (oh wait, are beats considered a vegetable?)

    • I’m glad you’re liking the posts! And yeah, beets are totally vegetables. One of my favorites! Though you can still write even if you don’t like beets. I mean, I guess you can . . . 😛

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