Don’t ask me why food is turning me into a philosopher, but bear with me. I promise my late night musings about avocados is worth it. I even have some potential for an Avocado Lessons blog mini-series, but I’ll decide how far I’ll take this at a later date.
For now, I want to share some writing lessons from an avocado.
Last night I was scrolling through Instagram and there was an ad for Best Foods’ Avocado Oil Mayonnaise. Typically I scroll past ads, but I stopped and watched this ten-second ad. They filmed someone slicing open a perfectly sliced, perfectly ripe avocado. Now, unless Best Foods’ ad agency has supernatural avocado picking powers, I guarantee they had to slice through and film dozens of avocados. I don’t know how many avocados I’ve sliced through that are slightly under-ripe or, though seemingly perfect on the outside, are speckled brown and bitter on the inside.
So how could I possibly connect avocados and writing?
Five Writing Lessons You Can Learn From an Avocado
1)The “perfect” avocado and the first draft:
That Best Food’s ad that I saw on Instagram is the last, final video. That is the reiteration of dozens (or more) videos, filmed and edited until it looked like the perfect first try. The final draft of a book is that mayonnaise ad, there were a lot of prior videos taken of some pretty not-so-perfect avocados before they arrived at their final video. It takes the first draft and several revisions to reach that final book.
Also, I mentioned on my Instagram account, I hit 50,000 words on my work in progress this last weekend. I’m amazed that I got that many words out period, but if my 50,000 words were like an avocado they would be like that squishy, bespeckled one. If you slice open my 50,000 words, you’ll discover a whole that needs to be cut out for it to be palatable. But, hey, I still have a physical avocado, and that’s a whole heck of a lot more than I had three months ago.
2) The avocado’s firmness and writing content:
One of the best ways to find a ripe avocado is to squeeze it softly. You want to pick an avocado that is a little soft and a little firm. For the perfect avocado, you need a perfect balance, too hard and it’s under-ripe and you miss the creamy mildness, too soft and it’s bitter and inedible. I have been a part of writing groups that think the best, most palatable writing is that whose subject matter is crass and violent. But, if you take these “hard” subjects, you miss out on the beauty of the “softer” subjects like family, friends, community and loss. You need both the hard and soft topics combined in some way to create the richest storylines.
3) An avocado’s thick skin and a writer’s thick skin
This one is obvious: without the thick skin of an avocado, the inside fruit would be squished, crushed and bruised, much like a writer who doesn’t have the thick skin for critiques and rejections.
4) The pit and the potential
The pit of the avocado is what contains all of the potential. Sure, it’s the creamy, soft fruit we crave, but it’s the pit that provides the opportunity for growing a tree and more avocados. As the writer, it’s our job to write the pit. We’re not writing to create the potential for sequels, rather we’re writing to provide possibilities and ideas. It’s our job to help grow the mind of the reader and expand their experiences.
5) The guacamole and the variety in a story
Sure, an avocado alone is pretty darn tasty, but mash that avocado up, throw in some salt, onions, cilantro, lime juice (or however you personally like your guacamole), and you have a tasty combination, even better than the original. The basic plot of every book is the avocado, but mash that story up with relationships and a protagonist’s internal struggles, and you’ve got yourself a riveting bowl-of-guacamole book.
So that, my friends, are the lessons that one ten second ad taught me about avocados and writing.
(And, yes, Avi the Avocado was drawn with my kids’ crayons, even their chubby toddler crayons. You work with what you have!)