Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Seeing with My Mouth's Eye

You guys have seen the cover of Pulling Teeth. If not, here it is:

I use the cover as my facebook pic, but typically it gets cropped so only the top portion shows (created by Daisuke Kuroneko, who also makes the most incredible little micro-sculptures).

I like the cropped cover image. I think it's a really good representation of me as a writer. Yes, because my fiction is dark even when not straight-up horrific. But let's imagine for a minute the picture isn't disturbing, and just consider what it is: a mouth containing an eye.

That eye can only see when the mouth is open. This is how my fiction works.

When I write, I don't usually know where it will go. Not only don't I outline, but I basically have no ideas. I know a lot of writers talk about how they have more ideas than they can write about, and conversely others lament not having ideas and thus getting writer's block. I almost never have ideas, but it doesn't matter, because that's not how I work.

I take a few things, a picture, a quote, a cluster of words, and I let the associations between them build up in my head. Then I start writing and see where it goes.

What I love is that not only do I discover the story I'm trying to tell, but I discover how I feel about different things. I end up learning about myself and the world. I think that when I write, I try to convey truths, but they're not truths I already know. I learn them in the telling of the story.

Honestly, I don't think I'd write if this weren't the case.

So (imagining that I'm an oral storyteller), I see through my mouth. Until I open my mouth to describe the world, there's an eye that's blind to it, and it's the eye that sees past the superficial to the indistinct edges of the truth.

I'm not even going to undercut this post with a flippant remark.


  1. Nice post. I don't outline either, I just let it flow. Unfortunately a lot of crap flows that way, but it lets me be flexible and explore new ideas and not stick to a written outline. I usually work out a scene in my head, but it rarely makes it to the page. I usually change it drastically as soon as I start typing.

  2. I also write scene by scene. The only thing I find bad about it is that once I finish a scene, I feel like I'm done writing for the day, and it takes some will power to push on to the next scene.

  3. Me too (as in me too I don't outline, not me too I have an eye in my mouth). I don't think I could ever plot out an entire story from start to finish like some people do. I mean I could, but I wouldn't stick to it.