“All good things must come to an end.”Geoffrey Chaucer
I have to say this has been true in my life. Not to say it’s been bad or tough. There times that were bad and were tough, but the extent of the good things far exceed the bad and the tough. Still, writing “the end” for a series I spent 25 years drafting, editing, rewriting, redrafting, and re-editing evoked a number of emotions.
For a writer, finishing any book is an accomplishment, but there were times with the series A Perfect Hatred when I thought it would never see the light of day or the inside of a book store. Not because it wasn’t good but because it was controversial. People who read it for critique said it made them uncomfortable; some doubted whether the things I described about Christian Identity or extremist patriots were true. I didn’t make this up, folks. In a way I wish I had.
Though critiques of that ilk were in the minority, they still made me think and question whether to proceed with publication. The first time I did the agent query thing with A Perfect Hatred (when it was only one, long book), I got almost a 50-50 reaction between “keep working on this” and “toss this in the trash bin.” The most memorable were two rejections from different agents received on the same day. One said, “Love your writing, hate the topic.” The other said, “Great topic; your writing needs work.”
So, when I finally typed “The End” on the final book, Collateral Damage, I felt an immense sense of accomplishment. I should have kept those two rejections so I could have a “see what you missed” moment.
Yes, I was sad that a project I’d lived, breathed, wept over, and been thrilled by had come to an end. But I had that same feeling for projects I’d been involved in with my old day job. When a project ends, there’s a certain amount of anxiety; there’s the inevitable question–what’s next?
In the government there was always nothing project, and as a writer, there’s always another idea. The feeling of sadness was, thankfully, brief because I knew even though that “mission” was over, as Mai Fisher says, “There’s always another mission.”
Still, that sadness was there and was palpable, but that might have been because the topics I started writing about in 1997 were still around today: anti-Semitism, racism, racist religion, neo-Nazism. That’s enough to put anyone in a funk.
Of course I was happy! I had finished what I considered my magnum opus, and I was happy with the results. I love these four books. Though the story was dark and some characters were horrible excuses for human beings, this story had tragedy and triumph, hope and despair, redemption and retribution. And it was a damned good story.
With the exception of weather and a health issue, all the book launches went off as planned. The books got good reviews as they came out. They climbed into the top 10 on Amazon’s Espionage best-selling list. The thing I thought would never happen, happened; A Perfect Hatred is out there and will live beyond me. Elation.
What is Next?
More books. More books about Mai Fisher and Alexei Bukharin. In fact, this fall and winter will see the publication of a trilogy that began when in 2000 I noticed in the international news a series of murders of close associates of Slobodan Milosevic–Self-Inflicted Wounds. More short stories. More short story collections. More writing.
Note: It doesn’t really take me 20 – 25 years to write a book; rather, until 10 years ago I had an intense day job and went months and even years without writing for myself.
And first, of course, in April the release of A Perfect Hatred book four with the words “The End” at the conclusion.
I Wrote “The End,” but Is It Over?
“Is it over?” is the tagline for A Perfect Hatred: Collateral Damage. An aspect of the story I told remains unresolved, and where I knew A Perfect Hatred wasn’t the vehicle to tell that story, I knew it had to be told. Eventually.
Over three different National Novel Writing Months, I drafted a three-book sequel to A Perfect Hatred tentatively entitled Enemies Domestic.
When will that be out? I don’t know yet. It needs that cycle of editing, rewriting, editing, rewriting, etc., before it’s ready. All I know is it won’t take 25 years. I don’t see myself having a launch party in my 90s.
But who knows?