I killed a spider!
Got your attention? Well, I didn’t actually kill one today. But I was sitting on my porch when I noticed a June bug trapped on its back in a container. I set it free, only to find it dead a short time later. I felt sad. It had struggled through the night to live and then I help it…and it died. Free, but, still.
This got me thinking about life and death and writing. How does a dead bug relate to writing, you ask? What about the spider? It takes a twisted and slightly distorted mind to connect those dots. Let me connect them for those of you who are ‘normal’.
I am a ridiculous softie. Pathetically so. I make me sick. When I was twelve my Daddy gave my little brother a pellet rifle. I, being the brave big sister, felt it my duty to help little brother rid the world, or at least our tiny corner of it, of grass hoppers. Fall in Oklahoma- they are everywhere. I took his pellet gun and strutted out into the yard and shot a hulking big one. YES!…NO!!! To this day I feel the evil that had come over me on that warm day that pushed me to murder an innocent little bug. At the same time, I have a very bad case of arachnophobia.
There’s the spider. (This image has been deleted)
I once threw an encyclopedia in middle school while turning pages and came to a huge orange and black spider. My sister only had to say “Look at ‘em crawl” and my shirt flew- the boy visiting didn’t mind… I scream at a microscopic ones nobody but me can see since my childhood days. Or, I used to. I’m proud to say that at about the time my youngest was born (she’s 20+, and married with a two yo now) I killed my first spider, and did it without screaming…very loud. A huge, fat, ugly black widow. Squished with a nasty popping noise. Now I don’t know what’s worse; the spider or the noise of it dying. *shudders*
But, since that life-changing day I have killed at least 100 eight-legged critters all by myself! I can’t bring myself to kill those black fuzzy ‘cotton spiders’ though. Not since my sister had a pet one. I never met Carmen, never wanted to before her untimely demise by smother inside a hottie’s tight denim pocket (he wanted to take her out for an adventure). But I can’t seem to kill them and I make hubby carry them outside to set them free. I don’t know what makes them different. They just are. As long as they stay far, far away from me! I don’t like them. But death to all spiders is still my creed. Mosquitoes, too. Make the world a happier place. Yet I nearly cry over a windshield-battered butterfly. Don’t even mention animals dying. As I watched that June bug today I wondered, not for the first time, do bugs feel? Do they fear death by squashing? Maybe that’s why hornets, wasps and bees are so aggressive. I don’t know.
So what does any of this have to do with writing? Absolutely nothing!
But, I can make it about my passion the way I do most anything in my life. So follow the squiggly colored lines and I’ll show you how my warped mind can relate these unrelated subjects.
If I can’t kill a grass hopper without horrible remorse, how could I possibly write a thriller book? Obviously, I can’t. I barely read anything more gruesome than an Intrigue these days, though I used to thrive on Stephen King. I don’t know just when that taste in reading/movies changed. But I never wanted to write thrillers. I’m not mean enough I guess. In my first romance my critique partners kept telling me to ‘don’t be afraid to be mean to your characters’. Why??? *whine*
I can revel in a spider’s death, so why can’t I write ‘mean’? To this day I struggle with that concept. My characters tend to attempt murder with kindness. Not that I have murder in my contemporary romances, but if kindness could kill…
I blame my inherent lack of ability to kill bugs successfully for my lack of ability to torture my characters efficiently. I’m improving. I can make them say something nasty. Now if I can just keep that rambling nastiness in context to the scenes I’d be a genius.
There, I connected an irrelevant topic to writing! What? You didn’t seriously doubt I could do it, did you?
What about you? What affects your writing style? Does it hurt or help you write a better book? And how do you deal with spiders?
Posted on 05/29/2011, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. 26 Comments.
I have no problem squishing those nasty pesky bugs. Spiders that is. I shudder at the very thought of them. The only ones safe from the bottom of my sandal are the Daddy Longlegs. Probably cause my mom would scream if we killed one hanging out in the bathroom shower. Yeah, I wasn’t too thrilled about one hanging upside down on the ceiling over my head while I showered. Cringing at the thought.
Anyhoo, writing sex scenes has a tendency to affect my writing style. It’s really not so much learning how to write them as letting my inner self loose. I think once I can fully do that, those sex scenes may be pretty powerful.
I know spiders are really good for the earth, but they’re so ugly. I can easily kill them if they’re in the house.
I’m not sure if I can write “mean” per se. I don’t think I’ve tried. sometimes if I read something sad it will affect my writing and my tone will be kind of sad and dry. But I write and down and edit it later. 🙂
Hi Jennifer! Thanks for stopping by. I can’t write when I’m upset, mad, or under the influence of any strong emotion. It has to wait until I’m calm again. That’s prolly why these revisions are taking me so long. My life at home has been in almost constant upheaval since Jan, starting with the exciting birth of a new grandbaby. lol
Kill them! The spiders that is. Definitely if they’re in the house. I have no issue with this as long as the item I’m killing them with is long enough to keep me from touching the thing. But this attitude pertains mostly to spiders. I once tried to save a possum that got clipped by a car and circled confused in the middle of the road. Those things are mean.
I use to try and save everything, but have learned to let nature take its course. A lot of baby birds have fallen or been pushed out of the nest in our barn the last few weeks. I move them to a safe place and give their mothers a chance to help them. Two actually made it out of the ten I tried to help. I felt like a proud mom myself when they flew away.
And when it comes to writing, I can be mean to my characters. My last ms has ended up being a murder/mystery.
I do too Tina. I want to save the world one tiny critter at a time. See?! That’s why my characters kill with kindness! *slaps head* “Mean. Think mean!”
I meant “squish things.” Or smash. With shoe or brick. I smother them, but not with kindness.
I know Sandy. The sound, feeling really grosses me out big time!
And I have yet to kill any characters. Go you!
I cannot sthings. I hate the noise and the feel of it. I prefer to snare the critters with a piece of tissue, wrap them like a birthday gift and flush.
I’ve only killed off one character and he deserved it. Oh, and he drowned, too.
I call my husband. He is is the designated bug killer person. With magazine or newspaper in hand, he is my champion. If he’s not around, I’ve been known to capture the invader under a glass, waste basket, whatever is handy and set my champion to his task when he arrives home.
As you can see, conflict is not my thing. It has made it difficult to write. However, not too long ago a personal situation occurred and amazingly, my heroine’s words came out of my mouth. It’s really surprising when your characters can teach you how to deal!
Thanks for the wonderful post, picture and all.
Don’t you just love when life inspires writing in a good way? Or visa versa. I never leave them to hubby if I can get around it. I’m too chicken that they might escape before he gets back. But there are those times I leave the critters where they are until he gets there.
My issue with flip-flops is that they also tend to throw the subject into the air- usually to land on me! But, you’re right. They are great for squishing bugs. We have scorpions too. Hubby found one beside our bed one night. Talk about a long night. lol Those go into vinegar for granddaughter. 🙂
And who doesn’t like a good sex scene? Not that we can all write them!
How do I deal with spiders? I avoid them at alllllll cost! : ) Then call hubby to snuff ’em out. Sorry little spiders…
I also avoid conflict at all cost in my personal life, and therefore have to really push myself to write a whole heck of a lot of conflict for my characters. As we all know – a book without conflict doesn’t draw us in or make us turn the page. As one editor at Harlequin said: Don’t let your characters go skipping through the tulips too early in the book.
Whereas I prefer a swift and clean kill for poor spider, I make my characters suffer!!!!!
How’d I do? Did I tie your topic in okay?
Thanks for a fun blog.
You’re my kinda gal, Lynne! I’m the same way. Go spider-killing hubby heroes!!!
I try to avoid personal conflicts (not always successfully) and have to work doubly hard to make characters suffer.
Thanks for tying the bow on top.
That’s what flip-flops are for! Best dang bug killers ever created, especially the cheap rubber ones. If it’s a big spider, it goes under a jar with a brick on top until my husband gets home. I live in one of the buggiest places and have learned to not scream over spiders, roaches, or lizards. However, when I encountered a scorpion the size of my hand, my heart flatlined. Always a mason jar and a brick in the garage. I can’t write thriller because I don’t like thriller is any form. My mind doesn’t go there. Now sex? There’s something I can write….
I have a daughter plagued with the same fear. She wants them dead, but runs screaming from the room. She’s 24 and such a girl.
I squash the bad ones, those that bite humans and release the aphid killers into the wild.
I am ruthlessly cruel to my characters and my story. Do they fill their intended purpose? They live.
If not-toast. I’m currently thinking of stomping on my ms.
It might be better if I had a kinder heart like you.
The ms might actually live to be finished. I’d like that.
I’m -well twice her age- and such a girl. Don’t pick on her. I wish I had the ability to be mean to my characters. I wish.
Great post, Lisa!
LOL! I don’t mind spiders, can’t stand their icky, sticky webs. *shudders.* Anyways, I have no problem torturing my characters, they’re going to have a happy ending, might as well make them work for it. As far as what affects my writing, I’d say the biggest thing would be my mood. Bad mood translates into a great argument on the page, or fight scene. Can’t always bean the hubby with a cast iron skillet, but the hero can sure whollop the bad guy!
Webs *shudders* Where there’s smoke there’s fire, or webs and spiders.
See? When I’m in a bad mood the ms may get trashed, literally, if I try to write. I used to try to do it, not any more. I can’t make it come out in a constructive way no matter how I try to work it.
Thanks for stopping in!
Hi Calisa! I once had to kill a ginormous spider with the broom. I’m not too squeamish about killing them in general (old, old house – lots of creepy crawlies), but this one was H-U-G-E, like the size of a small tarantula. I wacked and wacked until I was sure he was dead! And then lost about three nights sleep worrying if he had any friends. I think sometimes I’m too mean to my characters. Reading my lastest WIP, my critique partner said, “How COULD you? You’re just mean…” And it’s not a thriller – edgy inspirational. But a girls gotta do, what a girls gotta do.
How funny AJ! But bad happens to inspirational characters, too. You just have a way of making it happen!
Ginormous spiders I do not mess with. We have wolf spiders here. These things can be an easy 2″ diameter with the legs spread out, maybe 3″. I simply scream and run. Hubby has to deal with those. They chase people!!!!! The original poster…thing, for NO FEAR.
Yes, I’m 1/4 Cherokee, maybe a bit more. My (paternal) grandfather was full and my mother was 1/4 or something, too. I have just began learning some about my heritage, though I grew up knowing about it. We’re still researching rolls.
Did you check out the series I;m working on? I’m excited about it, but I don’t know yet how closely to real it will follow and how much legend/fantasy will work into them.
Just noticed you write Cherokee romance. Are you part Cherokee? My great grandmother was Cherokee, makes me 1/8th but not on the rolls.
I can kill spiders if they’re in the house, but leave them alone outside–especially golden orb spiders because so many insects are caught in their webs. Then I read Beth Hoffman’s SAVING CEE CEE HONEYCUTT in which a hummingbird gets caught in a golden orb spider’s web. My husband and I are such softies, we almost won’t kill anything. He spent a lot of time yesterday saving a great horned owl someone had shot on our land (a Federal crime, by the way to shoot them) and today it was able to fly away. I worried about it all night. LOL However, I did kill a brown recluse spider yesterday and don’t feel bad about that. It was beside my shower. Yuk!
However, my characters don’t have my hang ups.
Couldn’t find a place to follow you, so I twittered you. LOL
Yikes! A brown recluse? Very dangerous spider. I don’t bother them outside as long as they aren’t hanging around my porch. Inside…
Poor owl! I’m glad it was able to fly again. I’m that way and so is my hubby.
You have to subscribe to the blog or follow via RSS in the right column. But thanks for the Twitter follow too!
Hi Calisa – nice to ‘meet’ you:) I can’t kill anything. Maybe I could if the spider was threatening me or mine. Mostly I just turn in the other direction and hope they’re gone by the time I get back. I read a lot of crime and thrillers but can’t imagine myself writing in that genre. I also need to learn to be meaner to my characters!
Hi Leigh! I know what you mean. My problem there is that I spend the next week worrying about where it went if it’s left alive. Lol Thanks for coming by.