The Year of Amabie

Breathe In, Breathe Out

This was supposed to be a banner year for me. I had four short stories written, purchased by publishers and ready to be released upon the world. I had an quick outline for a new novel idea that I was excited about and could turn into a novel series. I was writing for a local Japanese community newspaper about Japanese mythology. Plus, I was about to attain my next level Brown Belt in Shotokan Karate.

Well, the reality was much, much different.

As I previously mentioned in an earlier post, one short story of the four was released. Of the other three, one will be released next week and the others were delayed until next year. The Japanese community newspaper stopped publishing (at least temporarily). And that Brown Belt? Well, for obvious reasons, testing had to be delayed. To be fair, I needed the practice and those months spent at home doing training in my basement actually allowed me to improve.

And writing. Well that took a vacation. One that I didn’t want to take. But did I really have a choice? 

It was a year of a pandemic, a year of lockdowns, a year of working from home. It was also a year of doom scrolling, of fearing the worst and sliding into a depressive funk. Being creative and imagining worlds of fantasy just didn’t seem important. I couldn’t say I was ever at a point that I could be labelled as medically depressed, but there were times I certainly felt that way. But mentally and spiritually, this year has drained me.

That is when Amabie entered my life. A relatively unknown Yokai from Japan started coming into my social media feeds early in the year. It is said it appears in times of hardship and protects those who draw it from disease and sickness. It made its first appearance in a newspaper in the late 1800s and has not made its way into public consciousness since.

At least until now.

Amabie has been my creative companion and inspiration since. A small drawing of her three-legged, mermaid-like form sits at the front of my journal greeting me whenever I open it to write.

And I started clawing my way back up. I started reading again – at first just books on writing to get my thought processes going again, and then novels and self-help books about time and time-wasting habits. Then the search for the perfect writing app started anew (Dabble is my new favourite, but it still hasn’t replaced Ulysses or Scrivener – another story for another time). And now, I’m writing again. I’m healing. 

It’s tentative, and slow and I’m not quite there yet, but it’s happening. 

Winter is here. Vacation is over. Cycling through Banff is in the past and even though the world is still seems to be spiralling out of control, hasn’t it always been that way? 

I am one of the lucky ones too. I have family surrounding me that keep me active and keep me sane and grounded. And keep me from jumping off the deep end. And for them, I am grateful. They have made this year bearable and allowed me the time to heal and get well mentally and spiritually (and physically. Can’t forget the physical – I did, after all, just attain my second level Brown belt).

But thanks to Amabie, I’m writing again too.

And I don’t intend to stop.

Writing Update

My next story is (ironically) entitled “Breathe” and it is set to launch in the anthology Prairie Gothic. This story is near and dear to my heart because it combines two things I absolutely love: Chinese restaurants on the prairies and Jiangshi.

Join me and other creatives at the Prairie Gothic Online Launch Party set for Monday, November 30, 2020. The details are in the above link.