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.