In the gaze of the other

"My mistress' eyes are nothing…"

Writers Are Spider Mistresses

A time for telling truth has come upon us now.
We needn’t lie to get us through these times
You see it in my eyes and writ upon my brow.
No need to say you understand these rhymes.

When writing is the mistress:

“Writing a book is an adventure. To begin with it is a toy and an amusement. Then it becomes a mistress, then it becomes a master, then it becomes a tyrant. The last phase is that just as you are about to be reconciled to your servitude, you kill the monster and fling him to the public.” – Winston Churchill

credit: a3.files.biography.com

First a mistress then a master, does Churchill mean that at first writing a book is alluring, a release into a world of pleasure, and then it becomes dominating, controlling, and confining like an addiction or a duty? In other words, it starts with the idea of writing a book, the germ of a subject that could spread into thousands of words, which inflames the contagion that impels the fingers to tap in order to scratch the itch and twitch of adrenaline desire-thought. The impassioned writer proclaims, “There is a book in me.”

But after the initial caffeinated burst of bluster-strained strands of webbed words–clever and comely–the chore of the work settles in, each day pouring water into the well to keep the once deemed fertile land irrigated and quell the fires of doubt and douse the flames of drudgery in the daily threat of stage five alert word draught. When the ideas stop flowing, the writing is a task of terrible resistance and fear sets in. The writer frets, “I don’t have enough, not good enough, not enough heart, authenticity, interest. But I have invested so much time and ink, I can’t stop now.”

Or was Churchill a switch hitter and he just means that writing a book is like loving a woman–not your wife–being in her control or under her spell, and then like loving a man?

No, he means that writing enslaves. It is an enormous envelope of time and thought, and the promise of her–writing–what she potentially makes of her lover–writer–is a sculptor of marble ideas smoothed into delightful statues of truthful experience and penetrating insight whose vision inscribes beauty into the minds of those envisioning the word figures and rests there completing that mind, that reader, who is forever changed or confirmed or comforted by some moral missive, sublime image, or worldly flavor.

In reality, the writer is a whittler of wood who shapes a block into a toy sailboat by toiling away at the carving craft hour by hour to make animation from the inanimate. The writer makes sound from ink. Perhaps it is this need to be heard and to connect with another human being that is the real potential that arouses the desire–the ultimate desire–that causes the penner to heed the call of the word, arise each day, wipe away the sticky, silken threads of the dreamscape, to hack away at the mental chains of complacency and write. That same desire thereafter ensnares her in the matrix of predator and prey, reader and read, writer and book, the book she violently tosses at her readers.

The itsy bitsy spider went up the water spout
Down came the rain and washed the spider out
Up came the sun and dried up all the rain
And the itsy bitsy spider went up the spout again.

Writers are spider mistresses.

credit: wondersinthedark.files.wordpress.com

2 thoughts on “Writers Are Spider Mistresses

  1. I dig the analogy of writing as carving a block of wood, of animating something inanimate. I think that all too often the arts are perceived as something in which an idea or form is conjured out of thin air, when the reality is that artists must create out of the raw resources and materials afforded them in their lives. I like it. Good stuff.

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