I hate camel spiders. Really, honestly, truly hate them. They are unbelievably fast, they like to jump, are hugely creepy, and very aggressive. We caught a couple during one of my extended research trips and the whole under belly portion was like a bunch of little gnawing teeth. I keep thinking that the long, spindly legs were at least a partial inspiration for alien face-huggers. If you imagine a camel spider getting to be the size of a medium dog, then they would easily look almost exactly like an alien face-hugger.
You might be wondering what my absolute hatred of camel spiders has to do with writing, or with today’s post. I’m getting there, I promise.
Today at work, we went to unload several containers filled with cargo from our research trip. One of the containers that was not supposed to be opened was unloaded by mistake and the contents left in the open for a bit longer than anticipated. Lunch came around, and most left to go and get some food, leaving only a small handful of us who didn’t really feel like having to come back and deal with more cargo. So we decided to start reloading the cargo back into the container. Imagine my surprise when several of my fellow workers started freaking out about a spider. As I am directing cargo and its placement, I am not particularly caring about a spider, thinking it is one of the many normal, tiny varieties we have here on the island.
Only it’s not.
It’s a camel spider that seems to have hitched a ride with our cargo. And it’s less than a foot from my face. And it’s NOT of the tiny variety.
I hate camel spiders, I really do. But by that time in the day, I was more annoyed, tired, frustrated, and hot than anything. So I took a cautious step backwards, while the rest of my fellow workers continued to freak out and back about 15 feet away from it. Since the wonderful creature was on the door between me and the container with me trapped inside, I started thinking of all the ways this could and had been used in stories. Thankfully, one of my fellow workers decided to attempted to find large metal weapons with which to destroy the spider, but he missed completely, so the spider jumped towards me, then fell down and went under the container. I was so annoyed I didn’t even flinch. That says quite a bit, given how much I genuinely hate those things.
As a writer (or potential writer), one of the most common questions I receive from non-writers is where I get ideas from. My response to the people who ask these questions is always, “Hi? Do you live in the real world?” The real world comes up with more terrifying creatures than I could possibly imagine. Camel spiders are the top of my creepy list. All my brain has to do is increase the size and *poof* instant horror story. Or I could probably leave them as they are, add some poison, and do something along the lines of Arachnophobia. The real world produces more ideas for all sorts of genres and crazy ideas if you just pay attention to it. Need a romance novel? Go hang out in a public place like a train station or shopping center, and do some people watching. People watching is a great way to see heartache, joy, anger, friendship, sorrow, and any other human interaction you can think of, and maybe a few you don’t have names for. Human interaction is a very complicated thing, and you can create stories just based on watching other people’s emotions and how they react to their world.
I freely admit that the story I’m working on right now was an idea based on seeing hundreds of children running towards me and thinking that the zombie-pocaplyse would look exactly like that. And then I started wondering what it would be like if you had to shoot at hundreds of zombie kids and how that would mess just about anybody up. The real world is filled with hundreds, if not thousands, of story ideas. Everything you see, everything you feel, everything you think has the potential to be a story idea. Sometimes I get confused that non-writers don’t see the world as potential story ideas.
But I still hate camel spiders. As much as they inspire ideas and stories, I still and will always hate them.