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?