It’s been a minute. It’s been nearly 2 years of head-scratching and uncertainty about where, what, and how the hell I was doing. I’m sitting here still shaking my head about how I started this writing journey way back in 2017 with the first book of The Keeper Chronicles. Through the years I grew, learned how to write better, handle the self-publishing requirements, navigate cover design, and managed some minor advertising. It’s been a ride, it’s been a learning experience.
I was all gung-ho in 2020 having penned three novellas on my new superhero series, The AOA or The Agents of Ardenwood. I had finished three rough drafts in 2019 after completing Frayed Endings closing the book on The Keeper Chronicles. I was excited going in this direction as it not only focused on superheroes but centered on Becca Byers, the plucky protagonist with a feisty side. A new experience, a different take on superheroes for me.
I was thrilled to introduce her alongside so many others within Ardenwood, the fictional town where it all shakes down. It had my heart, my interest, my desire to steamroll her story. The fire was lit, the potential was there, and I was ready to burn. I got all three novellas ready to roll and started the process of rapid-fire publishing. The game plan, one new novella in the series per month. I knew I could handle it, I was already three months ahead. The next one, Episode 3 didn’t need to hit until April 2020 so I got cocky taking an abundance of pride in my accomplishments. I got busy, I got it partially done. Then, just like the world outside my window, Covid slammed on the brakes and rocked my universe to the core.
Everything changed, life altered. Working from home was difficult, finding writing time when you’re in the same room with your husband doing the same thing was hell on both of us. As the days lingered on and a pandemic systematically reconfigured our entire lifestyles, writing fell to the wayside for me. I couldn’t focus, I couldn’t daydream, I couldn’t dialogue to myself to work on scenes. It was everything I had worked for, gone. We were healthy, we stayed safe but it came with a cost as writing is never easy especially when you can’t get around to it.
During that year and a half, I spent a great deal of time going over The Keeper Chronicles. I edited, I fixed even more, I deliberately cut with a wide swath what didn’t work, what didn’t add or increase the value of the work. It was something I could do that didn’t require quiet, something I could pick at until I was happy with it. I knew better, I did better. I slimmed all five books down, made them easier to digest, and managed to squeeze them into one collection, one paperback edition to add to the ebook offerings. It came out like a college textbook, size, and girth-wise, but I was proud, and still not entirely back on track.
2021 rolled around, the shaky new world we wandered into came with hints of vaccines, opportunities. Safely, we ventured back into cohabitation, if only by dipping pinky toes into society when and where we could without going overboard. The hubs went back to work and, after days of depression for him being gone having had a hip pal every minute of the day for nearly 2 years, I sat down and promised myself to start writing again. I told myself to do something, anything and I did.
The words, much like a splinter buried deep in tender skin, were a pain to pull free. Honestly, if I managed 10 words a day, it was a miracle. Speaking of miracles, it got better, more words flowed, the drive trickled back, energy started to light the dusty cobwebbed-covered lights inside. I learned to dance around the slow days, embrace the busier ones, and put more words down than I even thought possible. Soon, I marveled at having finished The AOA, Episode 3. I sent it out into the world, the longest incubation period of any work I have ever done and a heftier birth than previous ones within the series. Still, I was proud, a father that found a way and another book that had found feet and wandered into retail.
I think about the struggle and laugh, I smile about it, I keep it sitting idly in the back of my head. We all struggle as writers, some more than ever, some for many different reasons, but struggle we do. Finding mojo takes time, sometimes the muse refuses to come out of hiding. Sometimes she’s a whisper of a sentence, sometimes a broken dam and a subsequent flood. She’s a fickle pickle, always has been, always will be but if you give some love, take baby steps, she’ll come around again. She’s like an old carousel slowly turning in an abandoned park, the faintest sound of music in the background under flickering lights. Everyone gets a ride eventually if they find their way there, sometimes you just have to wait, buy a ticket, enjoy the show. Clap for the others, carry on for yourself.
I’m happy with the ways turned out, I would never want to do it over again. Now, as I sit and smile after having released Episode 4 of the AOA into the wilds of book retail hell and having successfully plotted somewhat and outlined both Episodes 5 and 6 to efficiently end Season 1, I’m proud of myself, proud of my achievements. I’m glad I’ve been allowed this opportunity as we’ve all seen and learned that nothing is promised, not a single day is given, and that every day should find us learning, growing, loving, laughing, and, on those odd days when our muse decides to play along, writing. Much love.
Below, the covers of both Ep. 3 and 4 as done by Thebookkhaleesi.com. I wanted a simple cover and multiple colors. She’s amazing and I could not be happier. Check her out if you’re in the market for a cover and then check out my work at https://www.amazon.com/Kester-James-Finley/e/B073YG5YCQ