Sunday, April 17, 2011


This week I have orange-hot irons in the fire. I’ve trained over many years for the Olympic sports of novel and script writing. But since who-you-know, timing and luck obviously play a role, I contemplate fate. More specifically what the Greeks personified as the Three Fates.

CLOTHO spun the thread of fate, giving us the inexplicable and irrational drive to be writers. Even now she sets us on a course that includes shearing the wool and combing the cotton, a million skeins worth. We choose colors, concoct patterns, then go about spinning our tales and repairing broken threads. She watches from a distance as we finally tie off our creations.

ATROPOS was the smallest of the Fates but most powerful. She could snip the thread at her whim. She teases us writers with her cruelty. She sends jaded pessimism off in the mail with submissions. She threatens to allow persistence, patience and dogged determination to atrophy. She chooses the manner of a dream’s demise if you let her. She’s the Fate to fear, for she can clip short a tenuous career with two simple words: give up.

LACHESIS stood between the two other Fates. She measured the thread of life, guiding the ups and downs, the spices that salt and pepper our lives. She is your critique partner’s feedback, the scores from a contest judge, the nudge or shove from an agent or an editor. If you pass her tests, she offers up compliments, first place awards, agents’ calls, sales, and bestseller lists.

When the Three Fates show up on the hearth when your author self is born, enlist Clotho (your flaming first words) and Lachesis (your magical path) in keeping sneaky, sabotaging Atropos at bay.

As I await word from producers and agents, I try to honor and be humble before the three Fates.

What mythical characters do you relate to most as a writer?

-From the Inkpot


  1. We just had a Greek gods and goddesses party for my daughter's 12th birthday. I read a bunch of Greek mythology with her as we prepared activities for the event. (It's wild stuff, says the science major!) So thanks for your timely post! I love how you've described the roles of the muses in our writing lives.

  2. Hi Karen! Great post and wonderful prose! The Three Fates? I hadn't considered their role in the career of a writer/screenwriter. I do now!

    My mythological selves as a writer? Cassandra, definitely, for non-fiction. Odysseus (perhaps) for fiction. I'd like to think my plot twists, character arcs, and embedded themes are clever. But also like Odysseus (whom Athena called "The Trickster"), I'm a long way from Ithaca metaphorically with the Symplegades still to come.

  3. Karen, thanks for your original perspective on these influential forces! I sometimes feel I'm weaving and weaving my book, like Penelope while she waits for Odysseus to find his way home from his publishing odyssey. ;-D

  4. Love this post, Karen! I usually think of a muse or two but never the Fates. I appreciate this opportunity to consider them in my messy trunk of writing tools.

    I have a fondness for Cassandra - blessed and cursed by the same god. And Penelope with her weaving - thanks for that reminder, Gail.

    Karen, I look forward to reading more.