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July 14, 2012 / diannegray

Hanging the cliff

Ever run into a spider web? I have and it was a big one. I was playing with the kids on the farm and hit it when I ran into the shed. It was a bird catcher spider web – the maker of these webs are certainly not small (as you can probably tell by the name). Now if you’re squeamish about spiders, don’t worry, I won’t talk about what happened next until the end of this blog. I’ll give you fair warning so you can stop reading.

The subject of ‘what traps me’ came up this morning while I was having brunch with friends. One of them said she’d been watching a television series on DVD and was so into it that she was up until 2am. At the end there was another cliff-hanger and now she has to wait until the next series starts to see what happens!!! She wasn’t happy, but still desperate to get her hands on the next series. Normally, I would think if this happened in any other way in our lives we’d just get crappy about it and drop the whole thing. For example – if I was sitting in a restaurant and the waiter brought my Lobster Mornay to the table, waved it in front of my nose and then walked away saying, ‘Next time you can have a taste,’ I would be very disappointed, hungry, want it, need it, etc. But of course there would be no next time, unless that was the last place on earth I could get food.

I was intrigued to know why my friend would go through that again and watch the next series, just to face another cliff-hanger, so I asked her why she liked it so much. Writers have to ask these things. We need to know how to keep someone interested – after all, we love when it people stop us and say, “I couldn’t put your book down” or “it was a certainly a page turner”.

I needed to know what made this series so engrossing.

She said it was about a girl who’d been murdered and they were trying to find out how she died and it was really complex and it showed the parents and the lawyer and hinted at some kind of conspiracy and she had a dog and maybe the dog knew something because it was acting strange and there was a coin on the dresser and then someone saw a photo of a strange man and so and so on – and all the while I just sat there waiting for the critical ingredient – but it didn’t come. There was no magic wand the producer or writer had used to keep her so enthralled.

But when I went back over what she had said I realised I’d missed the critical first line – “It was about a girl who’d been murdered and they were trying to find out…”

In the beginning we have a murder. No one knows who did it, or how it happened. As humans we have a need to know things. It’s part of our inquisitive nature. If you ask someone a question or give them a mystery, they tend to get caught up in it and really don’t let it go until they have the answer. I was reading somewhere recently where the most watched television advertisements are those where you are asked a question and the answer is given at the end. Therefore, instead of walking away to get your cup of tea, or whatever, you watch the whole thing to find out what the answer is (tricky little advertising execs!).

I’ve done this with many of my novels. WolfPear opens with a woman burying a body, though it’s not made clear for some time why, or who, she has killed. The Eleventh Question naturally opens with a question and in Let Sleeping Gods Lie the protagonist is searching for ‘something’.

I think my friend will feel satisfied when she knows the answers to the questions, how was the girl murdered and why? Only then will she find, what is now known in many life circles as, “closure”.

WARNING – I’m now getting back to the spider web.

At the beginning of this blog I asked you a question and told you something had happened to me, now I’ll offer you “closure”.

The web was as tough and strong as a tennis net. I ran through the shed like a maniac, slapping at my head and face. The kids thought I’d finally lost it, until they saw the spider. They took off in all directions, failing to let me know that the spider was still in the web and not on my head. I ran into the house, stripped off in the bathroom and had a hot shower. I never went into that shed again.

Best of luck with your writing!



Leave a Comment
  1. dicameron / Jul 14 2012 7:59 am

    Thanks for following! Glad it’s brought me to your blog as it looks like a great resource for writers. Your story reminds me of one a woman I worked with when I lived in Brisbane for a while years ago about a huntsman spider crawling up her arm as she was driving her car. I have to say, England’s creepy crawlies are more to my taste: small and harmless!


    • diannegray / Jul 14 2012 8:24 am

      Thanks for reading my blog! Yes – in Australia the creepy crawlies can get very big and scary 😉


  2. Tiffany / Jul 14 2012 1:46 pm

    Loved this post!


    • diannegray / Jul 14 2012 8:03 pm

      Thanks Tiffany! I really enjoy reading your reviews 🙂


  3. ocdreader / Jul 14 2012 2:30 pm

    That was a wonderful post! Ewwwwwww. I go hiking a lot and we have spiders that like to stretch their webs across the trails so the first one in the morning trailblazes on through…I always imagine I have little spiders flying behind me in my wake. The key is “little spiders” though. I can’t imagine busting through a tennis net with a spider the size of my fist on my back. That is shudder worthy!!


    • diannegray / Jul 14 2012 8:19 pm

      Thanks Elisa! I smiled when I read about your book club “Reading Between the Wines” what a fantastic name!

      I was going to put a photo of the bird catcher spider on the post, but thought it might scare readers away. When I was living in the country I did a lot of hiking and fishing and have seen chased by razor back pigs, crocodiles and wasps. Now I’m living in the city I think the country areas are probably much safer 😉


      • ocdreader / Jul 14 2012 8:24 pm

        Hahaha – yes, I would agree, you at least can predict (mostly) how the animals will act.
        Sounds like you have some good stories for us!! I can’t wait. 🙂


  4. tchistorygal / Jul 14 2012 4:23 pm

    You must be a great blog reader as well as writer! Thanks for reading mine. Spider webs are much creepier than spiders. They cling, like some unwanted parasitic person who tangles you in to their life, and you can’t get out! Cute story. I look forward to reading more when I’m not just browsing. Writers web off of other writers, and I think yours is worth sticking to.


    • diannegray / Jul 14 2012 8:51 pm

      Hi Marsha – I loved your bio and all the history that goes with it and thank you for following me. Is your website up and running yet?
      I love the way you relate the spider web to a parasitic person – I wish I’d thought of that!


  5. deedialogueblog / Jul 14 2012 5:13 pm

    I thoroughly enjoyed this post! I can relate to the spider scare, too. I grew up in the country. When walking through the woods, I would sometimes see fist-sized spiders in their giant webs. They give me the creeps, too.


    • diannegray / Jul 14 2012 8:59 pm

      Hey Vicki – I love the dialogues with Dee and particularly the first meeting where you had the cross-street conversation. Having lived in the country I can really relate to this. I’m looking forward to reading more.
      I’m so glad the spider didn’t put you off reading the blog 🙂


  6. draconianstylist / Jul 14 2012 11:11 pm

    I found the line about your kids running off without helping you to be hilarious.
    I am glad I live in the part of the world that really doesn’t have any major creepy crawlies. We have something called a wolf spider and they look kind of scary but they aren’t. I find them humorous because they sounds like little tiny tap dancers when they scuttle across my hardwood floors and they confuse the heck out of my dogs.


    • diannegray / Jul 14 2012 11:25 pm

      Haha – kids are great like that!

      We have wolf spiders here as well and I think just about everyone in my family has been bitten by one (even though people say they don’t bite!) I had one in my shoe when I was playing touch football and it wasn’t until I got onto the field and started running that it climbed out and bit me on the ankle. Everyone else thought it was really funny (because it didn’t happen to them).

      I’m enjoying reading your blog – and I see you have a FB page as well 🙂

      Thank you for following!


  7. 1girl4adamwest / Jul 14 2012 11:53 pm

    I can picture everything you have described! Your kids are a riot running and leaving you there and then you running too! Loved it! Yes, I do believe it’s all about closure in all aspects of life (at least for me).


    • diannegray / Jul 15 2012 12:00 am

      Exactly right about closure 🙂

      You writing is truly beautiful – I really enjoyed reading “He loves me, he loves me not”.


  8. angryricky / Jul 15 2012 4:19 am

    I’m not much of a writer, but I’m a good reader, and a compulsive rereader. It’s not plot that motivates everyone (though that certainly helps)–many of us are also character-driven. We read people we care about. One of my favorite books is Austen’s Mansfield Park. You know how it’s going to end before you’re thirty pages in, but I read it over and over because I love Fanny Price and Henry Crawford. You got me involved here by Liking one of my posts and having an About page that makes you sound interesting and rational. Then, you have funny stories and good thoughts. Your blog seems worth spending more time with.


    • diannegray / Jul 15 2012 7:01 am

      Thanks, Ricky. I saw your blog last night when I was sitting on the couch with my lap top on my lap and realised I was actually reading about someone who was doing the same thing (it’s strange how things catch your attention at times!) I started reading you blog and thought it was great (+ I’d had a ‘fatal error’ on my laptop yesterday and knew then that I wasn’t the only one frustrated with these dam fangled machines – ARGH)
      I’ve blogged about characters before but I don’t think I mentioned the importance of the character driving the story. I love characters who reveal their frailty and humanness. I find Salmon Rushdie’s characters incredible and they stay in my thoughts for a long time after I read his work. Some people just have the knack of hitting the nail on the head with characters!


  9. umanbn / Jul 15 2012 8:20 am

    I once did the cobweb in the face dance while coming out of my house in London to a street full of bemused onlookers at eight o clock in the morning….I don’t think I screamed but there was a lot of mad flailing and dancing around until I was sure the spider was gone…!


    • diannegray / Jul 15 2012 8:52 am

      Scary stuff, Mark! People just automatically think you’re crazy when you walk through a spider web. I love your page and had a good laugh when I read about the kids in your area only carrying swiss army knives!


  10. artfulanxiety / Jul 15 2012 8:34 am

    Gosh, I HATE that. We had to be careful around our house too, especially in the summer. My brother hated spiders, so when he came home from work he would make us check the garden path with a light before he walked to the front door. I do the same thing – I jump in the shower until I’m sure for the 10th time the spiders not in my hair.


    • diannegray / Jul 15 2012 9:05 am

      At that time we also had a huge mango tree next to the house. When it got windy in spring I could hear this thump, thump, thump sound on the roof. I asked my husband what it was the first time I heard it and he said ‘that’s the spiders dropping out of the tree.’ Yeah, right, I thought. OMG – he was right!
      I love your blog and what you have achieved. One day I’ll be like you and be brave enough to write about my anxieties and how I have managed my life. Great work 🙂


  11. Pairodox Farm / Jul 15 2012 10:35 am

    Thanks Dianne for signing on to my blog (Pairodox Farm) – I hope my efforts will continue to live up to you expectation. Spider webs … spiders … yeah, the both creep me out. My wife spent a bit of time in both Australia and Tasmania (almost 30 years ago now) and still speaks poetically about both places. Maybe I’ll be able to visit someday. The impression that I got when viewing pictures of her travels was that the light in the southern hemisphere was particularly dramatic – good for a photographer! D


    • diannegray / Jul 15 2012 9:24 pm

      Thank you! What a wonderful life farming is 🙂 I’m looking forward to reading more of your blog 🙂


  12. grumpytyke / Jul 15 2012 2:36 pm

    I’m not generally scared of spiders but this would have scared the hell out of me! Thanks for the ‘like on my picture haiku.


  13. c00k1i3 / Jul 15 2012 10:36 pm

    Your post made me smile. 🙂 I have also had the misfortune of running through a spiderweb. And given the fact that I live in southwest Iowa it only makes sense that it happened while I was playing in a cornfield! So, like you and your shed, cornfields are no longer my friends!


    • diannegray / Jul 16 2012 8:17 am

      Thanks, Cookie I’m about to put a comment on your blog – not really sure what to say, but I really hope you’re okay:(


  14. Jill Thaxton / Jul 16 2012 3:42 pm

    Yes, the mysteries of life…not in the “who dunnit” sense, but the questions of ‘why’ and ‘how come’ are such motivators in writing.


    • diannegray / Jul 16 2012 9:18 pm

      Hi Jill – absolutely. I was telling my hubby about your smokey, spicy split pea soup and now he’s making it! Can’t wait to taste it 🙂


  15. thesoundofceleste / Jul 17 2012 6:04 am

    Hi there! Thanks for following my blog. Your story of the spider web reminds me of here in Portland, Oregon. Each year, we have a sudden blooming of spider webs from every nook and cranny. Doorways and trees seem to attract the spiders more than out-of-the-way nooks and crannies. The spiders are small and brown, and seem to prefer distance to menace when you come near, but I’ve always though that it might be fun to make a video of joggers running down the street, suddenly dissolving into writhing creatures, clawing at invisible webs on their faces and arms.

    I think we get trapped in all sorts of ways. We get trapped by our need to see an outcome, by our fear of a beginning, or by a comfort with the way things are. Mainly, it seems that we need to pay particular attention to the traps our thought patterns set for our brains.

    Have a lovely day!


    • diannegray / Jul 17 2012 8:18 am

      Thank you, Celeste. You have the most amazing pictures and the way you write about them is truly breathtaking! If you ever publish a book please let me know. I also like the way you picked up on the symbolic nature of the spider web. I’ve wanted to write a blog for a long time (about a week now!) about symbolism in writing and pictures, but I’m not sure where to start.
      The sight-gag of someone walking into a spider web is side splitting. I’ve seen one or two people do it and then turn quickly to see if anyone saw them and you kind of look away to help them retain some kind of dignity.


  16. gomeasy / Jul 18 2012 12:36 am

    I love the posts, but I do hate spiders. I’m definitely one to go into ninja mode when I feel even the slightest bit of a spiderweb.
    Anyway, I just wanted to let you know that I nominated you for the one lovely blog award 🙂
    you can check it out at


    • diannegray / Jul 18 2012 7:15 am

      Thank you so much, Gomeasy! I’m pretty new at this so I’ll go take a look.
      What a lovely gesture 🙂 Thank you again.


      • gomeasy / Jul 18 2012 7:17 am

        You’re welcome 🙂


  17. Daphne Shadows / Jul 18 2012 7:39 am

    So true. We want answers. Plus seeking justice is deep seeded in some of us. Gets us all worked up and wondering.
    I can honestly say I’ve never ran into a spiderweb like that. Thank heaven! Do you normally get spiders that make webs that large/thick?


  18. Don't Quote Lily / Jul 20 2012 9:46 am

    Another great post. Although in regards to the web… Well, I can never walk into a shed again! 😉


    • diannegray / Jul 20 2012 10:53 am

      If you do, just make sure you’re waving a stick in front of you (but don’t let anyone see you doing that!)


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