* Scroll down for a monster-themed story snippet: Barbed
Who am I? What am I don’t here? Why do I matter?
The new year… a perfect time for an existential crisis.
Sometimes life mixes us a cocktail that goes down like a roofie: discombobulating, disorienting, confusing.
My cocktail is a mix of several things.
I recently finished a writing course (Path of the Storyteller with Maryrose Wood, author of the Incorrigable Children of Ashton Place). It was excellent, but as is often the case with the ending of things, its completion has left a gap, a wandering feeling. I have started to incorporate this new way of writing a book, as the old way wasn’t working out for me. The new way is difficult and my story’s beginning is depressing, allowing for great internal growth, but depressiong nonetheless. Which in turn makes me sad.
Additionally, I just finished a super fun project where I edited the script of an indie video game coming out soon called Ari’s Journey. (I will give updates on that when it becomes available). Another ending, another void.
Lastly, and probably the most guilty of causes to my internal upheaval, is my literal internal upheaval. My gastroparesis has reared its ugly head these past few weeks. So much nausea, vomiting, and weakness, making me fear losing the ground I’ve gained.
In addition to feeling plain miserable, a health dip like this reminds me of all the things I cannot do. I won’t go into an exhaustive list because its a lot and not the point. Moments like these are times to step back, take a break from trying so hard at everything, and remember what’s most important.
Hint: It’s not having everything easy or comfortable.
Life is about serving in the little, unseen ways, with our hearts and attitudes as much as our actions and words. Its about giving hope to ourselves and others, the eternal, lasting kind.
So in an effort to downscale the intensity we cultivate on peripheral things, let’s have some fun. Do something that makes us happy and is not about the product. Sit and stare at a sunset. Listen to classical music. Play a silly game.
Writing is difficult for me right now, but my imagination still needs to play, so I have decided to frolick with story prompts.
Monsters don’t scare me anymore. I’ve seen too many. I’m too prepared.
I train for hours a day with all manners of weaponry and evasive techniques to use against wild things bigger and stronger than I.
I study everything from mashroot antidotes to runuqui poisons from the Compendium of Apothacarian Magic. I read the ancient monstrology guides, documenting beastial encounters and creature weaknesses.
I have fought and defeated half of those listed, even made new entries.
No, I am no longer frightened. Only weary and scarred.
BASH! BASH! BASH! The sound of a fist ready to break down my door. I had scarcely slept an hour since killing a boarhag on Hillford pass.
I groan and roll on my cot, “Come back later!”
“My child! It took my child!” Angush tore from a man’s throat, “Please!”
I sighed, rising and unlatched the door, letting him in. He fell into a hysterical rave that was difficult to follow. I gathered enough to understand that he had taken his boy out early for a morning bow hunt. Gossip told of quail roosting in the eastern wood. No quail was worth the risk of the eastern wood, even for one so scrawny as the man before me.
Out of no where, something gashed the man’s arm. He assumed it was from a barbed bush, but when he went to attend it, an undulating arm lashed around his neck. It squeezed. He lost consciousness. I could see the distinctive purple welts on his throat. When he woke, his boy was gone.
A spindle squid. They flail through tree tops faster than wind, stealing children and using their teeth to barb their black tentacles.
I do not tell the father this, but grab my bow and poison-tipped arrows and set out for the eastern wood, cursing my aching back.