awkward mermaid
About Awkward Mermaid

About Awkward Mermaid

Awkward Mermaid Lit Mag

Mission Statement/About the Magazine

Some quotes from the vastly underrated Mrs. Fitzgerald to keep in mind when deciding whether and what to submit:

Nobody has ever measured, not even poets, how much the heart can hold.

-- Zelda Fitzgerald

Something in me vibrates to a dusky, dreamy smell of dying moons and shadows.

-- Zelda Fitzgerald

Awkward Mermaid is an online literary community and safe space for writers to share freely their experiences with mental illness. Think of it as a place where magic & mental illness can coexist. And these can be personal battles you yourself have experienced, or it can be that of a loved one, a friend, a parent, etc. Whatever moves you; whatever it is you have to say on the subject. We're not here to define what an experience can be -- you are.

We welcome all forms of creative writing: fiction, poetry, and nonfiction. As of now, we don't believe in word length: there are no minimums or maximums. We'll also take a look at any artwork (digital, etc.) submitted as well.

Submissions will be posted on a rolling weekly basis. This may change later on, but for now, we'd like to publish several times a week.

Eligible submissions include anything you have written/created that:

1. Is Original


2. Hasn't appeared anywhere else (like your own blog, etc.) *

*this will differ for artwork and we'll tackle that aspect on an individual basis

Simultaneous submissions are welcome--just let us know if you need to pull your submission by contacting us directly (you'll find the contact e-mail under "submit").

Also, you maintain all rights to your work: we just want to be the first to publish it, but after that, go forth and conquer!


As far as I could tell, there weren’t any places that spoke of or treated mental illness in anything but an ugly sort of way. This made me feel that having something (or several, in my case) things ‘wrong’ with me was actually wrong. It felt like having a black stain that no amount of scrubbing would remove. It felt like this stain—although a part of me, arguably a very integral portion of myself and who I’ve grown up to be—was still, for some reason, a thing I couldn’t and shouldn’t acknowledge. And that isn’t fair or right.

But I did this for a while. Years, actually. It wasn’t until I was twenty-four that I wrote publicly and for the first time about growing up alongside my mother’s Bipolar 1 disorder, which made for a chaotic upbringing. It felt so incredibly freeing to tell the truth, to give others insight into a part of my life I’d kept secret and hidden up until that point. I think what I’m getting at is catharsis—and I think we all need that from time to time.

(Before going forward, I want to note that I use this term “mental illness” broadly, to include conditions like PTSD or dealing with the ramifications of trauma (physical or sexual or mental or emotional)

Our minds. I am obsessed by it—how beautifully the brain can break, or come broken, or be broken—it is something which defines me more than even writing can. Writing was what mental illness gave me instead of my mother. It was a trade-off. And I’ve always had the funny feeling that I wouldn’t have ended up sticking with writing if it hadn’t been for my mother’s mental illness, my mother’s tragedy. (Writing this, now, I’m reminded of the concept of Changelings, those children who were said to be swapped by fairies (or trolls, depending on which particular myth you read). In giving me writing, mental illness and the deepest parts of myself—my creativity or lack thereof—were inextricably linked. You can’t take away the product away from its source, now, can you?

Mental Illness was my mother, in some respects. It was also what happened to my mother, and later, it was also what happened to me (though my own story is far less dramatic and severe, thankfully). It’s what raised me. It’s what I came home to in the evenings during junior high—an absence so loud and alive—because it was the absence of a mother, my mother, and Mental Illness was what/who had created that absence in the first place. And mental illness was Mental Illness (an entity of sorts, a thing that could and went bump in the night) to me for a very long time afterwards. It was a Who, it was the villain, it’s what upset the scale on my thirteen-year-old’s small, privileged world. It’s also a portion of my childhood I think I’ll always be able to feel more viscerally than others because it was also the end of my childhood, a sudden and wrenching sort of death that left me dry-eyed and surprised. So surprised. Surprised and numb and dumb like one of those Looney Toons cartoon bunnies standing stiff and still before a shotgun.

It is the strangest of creation stories, but then again, life is oftentimes stranger than fiction, no?