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Writers for Spiders

I was never a big fan of spiders. I didn’t go through that stereotypic “bugs and creepy crawlies” boyhood phase. A brief stint keeping exciting and strange ants when I was twelve, but that was brought on by an interest in the H. R. Geiger Alien design. Even still, all through childhood, adolescence, and young adulthood, I would recoil at the touch of a spider web on the hairs of my arm, or swat at an eight-legged critter in the corner of the room. But, in my thirties, as I have sought more time outside, I’ve discovered a National Geographic documentary right under my nose.

Whether hiking the Appalachian woods of Virginia, North Carolina or Pennsylvania, it’s important to be mindful of spider webs. Some hikers will blunder ahead right through them, cussing but some time spend in the arachnid-dense hills of central North Carolina has taught me better than to be so foolish. After all, in that neck of the woods, you have to be mindful of black widows, false widows, brown recluses, and yellow sac spiders. It becomes easier, and less nerve-wracking, to simply slow down, mind your footing, and mind the webs. That regard for my surroundings has led to a more mature appreciation of the web-weavers. I would spot a web, grow interested in the spider who’d made it, and, in some encounters, I’d even get to witness the spider work – whether cocooning the food for later, or making a fresh kill and devouring it instantly, or perhaps extending the grasp of their web over a creek with high bloodsucker air traffic.

Then, about a year ago, I was editing a piece for client Gerald de Vere that expressed a similar observation of these creatures. What was it inspiring us both to pay attention to the beasts? Research revealed a tidbit I’ve kept in mind. While I cannot find the original article, writer Lauren David sums it up nicely: “Spiders may symbolize balance, creativity, curiosity, personal growth, and self-awareness,” (Mind Body Green). The spider represents traits every writer should strive for. Why react negatively when one visits? Perhaps they’re drawn to a like-minded creature? Perhaps you should think twice before harming another curious being?

I no longer seek to squash a spider when I find it in my apartment. I no longer recoil when one drops down in front of me on its web. Instead, I smile, and I try to help the spider into a more ideal location. After all, just because I’m not smashing them, doesn’t mean my neighbors won’t.

I extend that invitation to other artists, but I am singling out writers; save the spiders. Ancient lore says they’re a sign of the muse – the crafter (of stories), the weaver (of plots) – and practical science says they eat disease-carrying parasitic insects. What’s more, as a world-builder and sci-fi writer, I must say there are some wild arachnid body constructs in the Appalachian spider encyclopedia alone.

Do you have any personal stories of appreciation for our eight-legged friends? Join my quest to make more ‘Writers for Spiders’ by sharing in the comments below.


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