Late yesterday evening, I was working in my home office when I heard my wife exclaim. I poked my head out of the doorway to see her standing in the middle of the room, pointing towards her desk where a rather large spider was going about its spidery business, unaware of the distress it was causing. Proudly displaying its acrobatic skill, it began to climb up on some file drawers. No skitterer this one, it was deliberate and methodical in its approach, testing each footfall for purchase before moving onward. Being the arachnophile that I am, I went off in search of a proper vessel to transport the errant creature back out into nature. When I returned, I was informed that it had crawled over the top of the files and disappeared from sight. Presuming that it was huddled up or that it was headed for the floor, I began removing items from the desk, watching for any telltale movement. After several minutes (it wasn’t entirely for naught, since I found a missing item from the desk that had fallen behind it weeks ago), I had still not located the beastie. It was at this point that I heard another exclamation and turned to see my wife now pointing toward the ceiling where the spider was defying gravity (and nonchalantly cleaning itself). A few minutes later, the eight legged intruder had been safely ensconced, identified as a Giant Crab Spider (an expert climber, by the way) and released into the back yard.
Great, but how is this relevant to writing, you might be wondering. Well, I didn’t think you were just going to let me get by with the cleverly crafted retelling of a mundane event. I recently had a similar experience while searching for story ideas. See, I thought I knew where I wanted to take the story. I was sure that the missing nugget was hiding where I expected it to be, so I set about rooting around, but finding nothing of interest and growing frustrated. All the while, the thing that I was looking for was off in another direction, doing its thing, oblivious to my need to locate it. Luckily, in both cases, a chance glance on the periphery turned things around; where the writing is concerned it was a very slim volume noticed in the new non-fiction section at the library that highlighted a particular Victorian era figure that fit perfectly as the missing piece of my personal puzzle.
Astute readers may notice that this is the second time a spider encounter has been related to writing on this blog. My spider, however, experienced a very different outcome from Jeff’s.