I’m really happy to report I had a short story published in Literally, Stories called “Hatsubon.”

As I mentioned earlier, I really love connecting short stories together. I love the idea of stories that stand alone but can also be fitted into a series.

To that end, this is a story that follows “The Burning Bones,” published in 2020. That story focuses on the grief the husband feels at his wife’s funeral, while this story follows their oldest daughter, who carried the photo of her mother out the door after her mother was cremated.

I also have to say I like writing stories about older people. I think that thanks to media and the internet doing a fantastic job making it difficult for older people to connect to other generations, too many people in younger generations write off the older generations.

I wonder how many people think “Well, she died in her 90s so that’s fine.”

Grief is still grief, and none of us, I think, are really ready to say good-bye to people we love, no matter how old they are.

The death of Shinzo Abe

One of Japan’s newspapers called The Asahi Shimbun published an opinion piece this morning where one of their reporters talks about their experience watching former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s funeral procession through the streets of Tokyo after he was gunned down on Friday.

The reporter writes they are reminded of a quote from an essay by Kamo no Chomei during the early 13th century: “The flowing river never stops, and yet the water never stays the same.”

What, I thought, a profoundly perfect way to describe loss.

There have been times in my life where I have wondered how people can go about their day despite a great tragedy, and I think that quote does such a fantastic job explaining the mindset.

Personally, I think the quote can describe the Japanese societal psyche quite well in times of disaster.

I’ve been in Japan during the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake, devastating typhoons, the pandemic, and now this senseless shooting of a former leader.

Each time, I’ve seen the dark shadows seem to cross the public mind, but people continued as best they could in the circumstances.

Japan has a long history of tragedy on a national scale–mostly natural disasters. I think they have perfected the art of trying to continue moving forward despite devastating circumstances.

I was reading several news sites from abroad describe how the shooting will forever change Japan, and I think perhaps beneath the surface of society here, that might be true to some extent. It won’t be overtly apparent, however.

Personally, though, I think many people here will simply add this tragedy to the list of tragedies kept in the nation’s spirit and keep going anyway.

A new story

After what I suppose could be considered writer’s block (I’ve been writing short stories but not a book for a while), I have an idea growing in my mind for a book.

Short stories have been fun to write because, to me, they feel like distilling an entire book into one scene and trying to make it a story in and of itself. While some of my short stories I think would make great books, I haven’t felt particularly inspired enough to flesh them out.

Thus, I was really happy to get the idea for an opening to the new book. Like what often happens to me, I was about to go to sleep, thinking about the book, when the opening lines came to me. I used to have a notepad near my bed, but smartphones have quite a few uses, I think.

I used to just start writing the book once I got an idea, but I would get annoyed having to stop every now and then to figure out the logistics (what’s the character’s name? Where are they in the world, if they are on our world?).

To try and create fewer frustrations, I have lately taken to going through the logistics beforehand. I also try to have a loose plot in my head before I start.

For me, figuring out the plot is best done when I’m doing some sort of mundane task, like household chores. Lately I’ve been gardening more than usual, cleaning more than usual and trying to deep-clean some of my appliances (like the washing machine) all so I can have a mind free to tease out the plot from the tangled mess of images in my head of the story.

I suppose meditating would work better for this sort of thing, but I like being productive while working on the story, so I’m happy when I advance the plot along in my head while also pruning my trees and such.

I already wrote down the first lines of the book, and I have a tentative title, but the ending is still a bit of a mystery for me at the moment. I really want to start writing, though, so maybe I’ll just have to hope one is revealed while I write.