The sun highlights a large spider web in the bathroom. It doesn’t look like the conventional webs that appear on Instagram with their perfect shape and pretty droplets of dew coating the fine strands. This one resembles a labyrinth with multiple layers, and it is dusty. It reminds me of how a story can unfold. There are layers and paths that the author can choose to take and these decisions change how the story evolves. Although sometimes steps need to be retraced if the way chosen leads to a dead end. Marmion’s quote ‘Oh, what a tangled web we weave when first we practice to deceive,’ probably best describes the writing journey as it can be hard to keep track of the details.
So why do writers write? So many stories end in a dead end or in a half-finished story. What compels someone to sit and write a story that may never be read by anyone else? It is a strange and often thankless pursuit and yet humans have always wanted to tell stories for those who would listen. Be brave, send your story off. Pursue your dream, forget about rejection, eventually it no longer hurts and you come to expect it. Several years ago I won second prize in a short story competition. When they rang to tell me, I immediately asked how many people had entered. She assured me it was more than two.
Ideas and characters pop into my head and I often ignore them for months. However, they persist in tormenting me until I finally write down the idea, and then ignore it again. I’m too busy to write you now, I’m working and writing for my PhD. I don’t have time for a short story. It’s never quite gone though, once the idea has been committed to paper it lingers and rears up to say ‘I’m here, when are you going to finish my story?’
That’s why writers should keep a notebook near them at all times, ready to jot down things when inspiration strikes. Unfortunately, I have never been that organised. Snippets of ideas hastily scribbled on receipts or bits of paper ended up in the washing machine. Bits of words coating wet clothes, or sucked down a drain and lost forever.
Now I use my iPhone to keep a permanent record of ideas. I can even email them to myself—technology does have its uses. However, my attempts at using Siri to transcribe notes has not been successful and I’ve learnt to reread texts before I hit send. My friend once received a text saying ‘Hi, its Richard, the children’s clothes are at the bottom of the pool.’ And I won’t even mention the text my mother-in-law received. Siri just doesn’t understand accents.
P.S. No spiders were harmed in the writing of this blog.
Rachel McEleney’s short fiction and nonfiction has appeared in Seizure, Ghostly StringyBark Anthology, Aeternum: The Journal of Contemporary Gothic Studies and An Alphabetical Amulet Anthology. Her poetry has appeared on the UWA Poets’ Corner in Perth. Rachel lived in several countries before settling in the south-west of Western Australia. The south-west landscape has inspired her writing and she likes to spend a lot of time in the bush, particularly in spring so she can search for orchids. She is a PhD candidate at Edith Cowan University’s South West Campus.