What to write about today.
How about the melancholy of a writer seeing a journey’s end on the horizon?
As I write the last chapter of the Alexander Endgame trilogy, I am closing the book on a decade and a half of my life.
Fifteen years ago, in the spring of 2008, having moved to a new state to start a new job, I was bitten by the bug to once again, after a ten year hiatus, write. I didn’t go back to my old, laughable attempts at fiction, those largely (blessedly) forgotten stories I penned in my youth, trying to breathe life into their moribund corpses.
I wanted an antihero, someone who the reader found objectionable, disgusting even, in the way he conducted himself in all aspect of his life. Someone the reader would hope to be served a heaping helping of comeuppance, yet still succeed because the alternative would be even worse.
Thus was born Christopher James Alexander. Judging by a handful of the reviews, I have succeeded beyond my greatest expectations in that regard, as those poor readers can’t seem to get beyond his flaws to see the greater picture. Can’t separate fiction from reality, imprinting their own biases upon the tale as if I wrote it as a personal insult to them. The leaves on the tree before them are obscuring their view of the entire forest.
But I digress.
Fifteen years ago I sat down with pencil and paper and scratched out the first words. I wrote the entire trilogy longhand, filling multiple spiral bound, college-ruled notebooks. Anyone who has seen my sorry excuse for penmanship would know “scratched” is a charitable term to describe my handwriting, the sort of thing which makes doctors laugh. It’s so bad even I sometimes have trouble deciphering what I wrote, which made typing up the second draft quite a challenge. To this day I can’t swear that everything I originally intended made it to that electronic copy.
Finished that second draft, did a word count, and realized I was around three-hundred-thirty-thousand words. Thank God I learned to type without looking at my hands in high school or I’d STILL be working on that second draft.
The Alexander Gambit wasn’t originally intended as or written as a trilogy. Once my plot and conclusion was formed (both of which changed considerably over the years) It was supposed to be just two book — Gambit and Endgame.
So I had to go back, chop it up into three, cut out a LOT of fat, and largely start over. Along the way I finally finished the backstory of Zeke Whitaker, Chris’ father, and decided to write a short story, which became the novella The Wraith.
I started shopping around for representation. I self-published The Wraith as an intro into my world and my concept, and worked really, really hard at finding an agent who would take a chance on a nobody based upon what I could provide.
It was then, after multiple non-rejections (agents never so much as emailing back) that I learned the cold, ugly truth of the traditional publishing world.
I will not go into the details, but I think it’s safe to say a lot of great writers out there will never be read because they aren’t already famous, or simply because they write for entertainment without agenda. I honestly believe the likes of Tom Clancy, Robert Jorden, Louis L’amour, perhaps even Issac Asimov, would never get their feet in the door in today’s climate.
It was for this reason, refusing to be shut out, my talent wasted, In 2019, eleven years after my idea first took physical form, I published, through Amazon KDP, the first book of the Alexander Gambit.
And now, March 8, 2023, there remains but a couple of chapters before the first draft of the Alexander Endgame trilogy gets punctuated with the words “The End.”
Will this be the end of the story? Might there me more adventures in the future? Hard for me to say. Inspiration might strike me tomorrow. Or it might not. I have my other worlds and other characters to think of, who have been languishing in agony waiting for me to get back to them and continue telling their stories as I concentrate instead on finishing this trilogy. Between that and the months (years) of editing, rewriting, and publishing before the reader sees the conclusion, I’m not sure I’ll even have the time to think of such things any time soon.
But for now, I have come to that melancholy moment where I see Christopher James Alexander, a constant companion in my head for nearly half my adulthood, standing on the far horizon, ready to turn his horse west and ride off into the sunset as they roll the credits.
Enjoy your retirement, my good friend and bitter enemy. Just know, if you do ever decide to make a return, I will be here to listen.