You’re probably looking at the title of this blog post and going, “Umm, that’s a little violent, Aubrey.” It’s okay, it’s not as bad as it sounds. Let me explain what it means to me.
I usually have my best friend proofread/edit my writing before I send it off into the wild blue yonder to be published. Sometimes her feedback includes, “Bleed on the page, Aubrey.” What this has come to mean for us, is that the writing is either not deep enough or it doesn’t have enough of my voice in it. I need to dig deeper, I need to expose more of my core in the writing. My blood needs to go into that story.
The hard part about writing, even writing fiction, is that you tend to expose the parts of yourself that make you vulnerable. Not only do you bare it for the world to see, but then the world can come back and say they don’t like your weak spots, they don’t like the things you love, and the worst of all, they don’t like you. There’s a flip side to that, though, and really, that is what matters.
Pain and vulnerability are universal. If you are speaking from the heart about real feelings, it is more than likely that your story will feel real and weighty to your reader. They will be able to relate to your characters because you’ve put real emotion into them.
That is why we bleed on the page. I let my life force drain from me into the words I craft, in the hopes that someone will read it and go, “I see myself. That’s what’s inside me too!” as they read.
The first piece I ever got published was all about a verbally/emotionally abusive relationship I was in. It was raw and sore and I got to write a better ending for my character than perhaps the one I got myself. It was cathartic and I’ve had more than one person ask if they could share that piece with a friend or family member that had been in an abusive relationship. I think that is part of why we bleed on the page, to share our stories and to feel a connection with others.
Neil Gaiman put it much better than I could in his book Fragile Things:
“I believe we owe it to each other to tell stories.”
I believe that too, and when we bleed on the page and dig a little deeper, we’re sharing our truth. That’s what makes good stories into great stories.