Friday, July 20, 2012

The Very Busy Spider

Ever so often, I read this book to my son:

It's about a spider building a web.

On every page, a new animal shows up and asks the spider to hang out with it: "'Quack, quack,' said the duck. 'Want to go for a swim?'" But the spider never answers. She is always very busy spinning her web. This goes on and on, page after page, from morning until night, the spider not responding to anybody, just spinning and spinning and spinning, until finally she finishes her web. Then an owl flies by and says, "Who? Who? Who built this beautiful web?" But the spider doesn't answer then, either. She's asleep. "It had been a very, very busy day." And thus ends the book.

I am so totally the spider right now.

(Eric Carle, by the way=genius.)

So. I have turned in the next round of revisions for BOUNDLESS. Over the past several weeks many, many people have tried to get my attention, and I have not responded. So sorry for that, people. I was very busy spinning my web.

Revisions are usually tough and slow for me, but THIS revision. Oh dear Lord. So many threads. So many characters and their arcs. So much to set up. There were days a pesky fly flew into my web and thrashed it to shreds. There were days when I was inexorably trapped in the web and I started to feel suspiciously like the pesky fly. There were days I honestly considered whether this web-spinning thing was a healthy career decision. 

I drank a lot of iced tea. Which helped me stay up into the wee cool hours of the morning when the house was quiet and I could think. And then I would lie in bed later trying to turn off my brain, which insisted on revising my book, even when I'd clearly told it to stop. Even in my sleep, I revised. I often woke with a dull headache and the sense that I had been working all night.

I am a morning person, by the way. I suck as a night owl.

I am, quite frankly, exhausted.

Stay tuned for the Grouchy Ladybug, is what I'm saying. . .

But, at least for now, it's turned in. I am finally free to work on a new project. (and possibly a new, NEW project that is Unearthly-related. I shall tell you when I know. . .) And this is great. I have been wanting to work on my new project for almost a year, and I can't wait to really dig into it.

Tonight my husband came into my office to warn me about a spider on the back patio, who was building an enormous web. My husband thought it would be, er, icky, if I walked into that web on my way to water the lawn in the morning.

"He's out there now, building it?" I asked. For some reason I think of this spider as a he. Don't ask me why.

Yes, he was.

I went out on the patio and located said spider-and-web. My husband was right; it's a big web. The supports easily stretch across a ten-foot space, with the center positioned to intercept any unlucky bug who happens to make a suicide-run for the porch light. (Well played, spider. Well played.)

I've seen this spider before. He's a very large orange and black orb weaver, with stripey legs exactly like in the Eric Carle book. I have resisted the temptation to squash him, because he eats many bugs, and he's not doing any harm or trying to get in the house to bite my babies. He's a good spider, and I have just read Charlotte's Web to my son and James and The Giant Peach and I am supposed to be okay with good spiders. (Embarrassing side note: someone recently asked my son about reading Charlotte's Web. He said he never wanted to read it again. Because it -and I quote- "makes Mommy cry like crazy." Seriously, though. Those last lines: "It is not often that someone comes along who is a true friend and good writer. Charlotte was both." I could start sobbing right now. . .)

Ahem. So back to the patio spider. I haven't ever seen a spider building its web before, not in real life, anyway. So I stood there for a good twenty minutes and watched as the little guy worked to fill in the web. Around and around and around he went, the glossy threads occasionally catching the light. And I noticed one thing right off:

Part of the web is easy for the spider. Starting from the bottom left, he just cruises along, goes a little bit, secures the thread to the support, spins a bit more, secures, climbs the left side, secures the line, goes across the top, spins, secures, spins, secures. No problem, right?

Until he hits the top right, and he has to go down.

Then the spider falls out of his rhythm, he wobbles, the entire web dangles unsteadily as he lowers himself, secures the line, twists and waves his legs frantically and looks all kinds of unbalanced, then finally reaches the bottom and hiccups across two more anchors before he finds his groove again.

Every single time.

I can practically hear the little guy cussing: "Oh for $%^&&**$*!!!! This stupid #$^*&#$&!!! web!!!!" And toward the end there he was looking so very tired. Like, "Please, please, can't this web  be finished now? Pant, pant. I need a vacation." But on he went, until the web was done. I wish I could have taken a picture of it for you, but it would not show up with my camera. Trust me, it was glorious.

It made me smile. Because I am so totally that spider.

This web building stuff is HARD. Even for spiders. And they were made to spin.

(This web is a fair approximation of what both my spider's web and BOUNDLESS look like right now. . .)

Join me tomorrow morning where I forget about the web and walk right into it on my way to water the lawn and run around screaming and swiping at myself. Because that's going to be fun.