To keep myself sane while dabbling in the art of the query letter, synopsis, pitch and the overall heartache of trying to get a literary agent, I write short stories when not editing my novel and its series (in addition to reading, participating in webinars, studying blogs, and hanging out on writer’s forums).

I came up with an idea a while back that would allow a black widow spider to be the heroine of a story. And spiders in general.

I would consider it fantasy / magical realism.  At 2:00 in the morning, I was lying in bed battling insomnia and the opening popped into my head.  Insomnia is sometimes productive.  It’s a decent opening.  Definitely something to work with 🙂

Twinkle, twinkle, little spider. Perhaps if the lyricist knew what she was looking at then the lyrics would be different.  But all she got was a glimmer, a reflection of moonlight off the back of the industrious spider, maintaining her magnificent web up above the world so high.  

She is a servant to the Master of Dreams.  One of many.  A spider with a special web constructed to fabricate dreams and snare nightmares and occasionally prevent a rogue filament of dreamspace from falling to earth.  She makes her web from starlight and clouds, and sometimes ice and twilight which is why she and her sisters are so difficult to see.  That is dreamspace and it exists in plain sight but is invisible to all but those who know where to look.  And usually those who know where to look, only ever catch a glimpse in their entire lifespan.  

While she cleaned her web and repaired holes, a rogue filament came into existence.  When she first saw it, it appeared to be nothing more than gossamer and stardust.  But gradually it took form.  The spider knew she should catch it and wrap it in her web and end it there.  It became a girl, a human girl and sat naked on her web.  Then it spoke.  

“I have purpose,” the girl said.  

The spider knew purpose was the very first principle of existence.  The rest, she didn’t know.  She did know that humans needed clothes in the human world and quickly created garments for the girl.  

“I need a name,” the girl said.  

“I don’t create human  names,” the spider replied.  “A human will have to name you.”

“Then give me a spider name,” the girl said.  

And the spider did.  Then she created a sail for the girl and let her go.  The spider knew that she had done wrong and that the Master of Dreams would be furious but the girl already had purpose. 




Web of Color

In my previous post, about the stretch of the Wildwood Trail leading up to the Pittock Mansion, I mentioned the colors caught in spiderwebs.  And I would like to expand on that a bit here.

The last time I was there, about a year ago, right at the beginning of the hike, I noticed these two perfect spider webs right next to each other.

Pittock - A beginning - two spiders II

So many people just walked by and I couldn’t believe it.  I stood there with my camera and tried to capture every flicker of color, from the golden glow of the spiders to the full spectrum caught in their webs.  Alas, I am nothing more than an amateur and failed to capture the full splendor.  My friends and family were ready to walk, eager to reach the mansion, so I had to give up, satisfied only with the memory and an attempt to capture what the eye perceives.  Regardless, I hope you enjoy my effort and find some beauty in the result.

Pittock - A beginning - two spiders - no  bright

A search for beauty between the grit.

I grew up in the lush forests of the pacific northwest (Oregon and Western Montana), so my move to Los Angeles came as quite the culture shock.  I’ve learned, over the years, to appreciate nature wherever I can find it… though I do miss the trees so much.  Lanky palm trees are ugly, under most circumstances, and the way they shed is appalling.  These weedy trees will never fill the void left by the magnificent, near magical, trees that adorn the memories of my childhood.

But I’ve digressed, I live in L.A. now.

The upheaval of sidewalks by persistent tree roots, the way little birds use street signs to house their nests, the snail-trails dotting the route of midnight voyages, and the blaze of the setting sun caught in a songdog’s eye are all reminders of the power and endurance of nature.  Of which, I greatly appreciate.

Anything that moves against the mundane pace will catch my eye.  The flicker of a bird’s shadow, the passage of gossamer caught in the breeze.  And though I must admit that I will never grow accustomed to the cockroach’s scurry, I have grown quite fond of one native resident to Southern California.  The black widow spider.

With a nefarious reputation, being the source of nightmares, how can one appreciate such a creature?

The articulated front legs and iconic hourglass marking are enough to induce chills throughout the constitution of most.  And while I have a few tales about my relationship with these spiders, and from there have even written a short story, that’s not for here.  Maybe later.

It was the way the black widow recoiled, knowing when she was being watched.  Almost giving the impression that she knew her reputation.  It was the overall shyness of such a monster that left an impression on me.

Now I’m not on some “save the black widow spider” platform.  Their venom is potent.  If they’re in an area that could endanger a person or pet then I have no qualms with the end results of such association.  But when they are out of the way, just being spiders, let them be.  When I walk by their messy, tinsel like webs, I always stop and take a look with hopes of seeing one.  I will admit that I am disappointed to notice that they seem to be vanishing.  They are being replaced by the brown widow spider.  This may induce ovation in the vox populi, for arachnophobes especially, as the brown widow’s bite is less harmful.  But for me, I suppose I have sympathy for the villain.  Sympathy for my own little Byronic heroine of Los Angeles.

black widow black and white

(black widow-black and white by Firefly6)  firefly6.deviantart