On Valentine’s Day of this year, I finished book three of my Scar of the Downer series. Though I have yet to come up with a title and have some editing left to do, I now see the light at the end of this tunnel.
It has been a long journey, one that I’m not quite finished with yet. Nearly thirteen to fourteen years ago, the idea of Crik first came to me. I didn’t know him by that name then, but the character was still the same, and so was the story. From the beginning, it was always going to be about a group of runaway slaves yearning to live free.
When I originally wrote the very first draft back in 2007, the three books were all in one 120,000-word volume. Over the course of several years, as the world in my story expanded, I decided to break the book up into three separate, yet smaller, novels. No one was going to publish a young adult novel that large from someone unknown, someone like me. It’s difficult enough to get a book published at all.
I can honestly say that from the very beginning, I always knew what the end of the story would look like. I always knew where my characters had to go.
I’ll be honest, it felt strange to write what I wrote this week. Some of you may understand, some of you won’t. I’ve talked about this moment for years with my wife, and now it is here. It’s one thing to read a book and come to its ending. Sometimes it happens in days, sometimes weeks, sometimes months. I’ve never experienced something this massive. Nearly thirteen years of life dedicated to this one story. But now, now it’s coming to an end.
For these past years, I’ve lived it.
There hasn’t been a day that I have not thought about Crik and his plight. Though most people in this world have never heard of this book or this series, let alone have read it, it is a part of me. If people don’t know this about me, they really don’t know me.
How can this story not be that interwoven with who I am?
Besides God and family, I can think of little else that has occupied my thoughts more than this book, more than these characters. To most people, understandably, these characters have little to no impact on their lives, but for me, they’re as real as unreal people can get.
How do you say goodbye to something like that?
The short answer is you don’t. I doubt any other story will stay with me as long as this one has. It has been a project that has been with me before my oldest daughter was even born.
I know this sounds melodramatic to the reader, but this is a chapter that is closing in my life. I will be moving on to other projects, perhaps never to write about Crik again. Never to talk about what he will do, only what he has done. It is a bittersweet thing.
Like time, however, stories march on.
Because my last blog post was slightly negative, I decided that I am going to focus on something good, something positive, something that will stir the hope in the heart. We all need it, right? What stirs hope more than life? What stirs hope more than springtime after winter?
Well first, a bit of history. Though it’s a little outside the topic, I thought it was interesting.
Spring was once called Lent, which was derived from the Latin word lencten meaning spring. Makes sense, I know. Eventually, however, it became known as springing-time in the 14th century. It was the time when the plants were springing up. Again, makes sense. Then over the next two to three centuries it was shortened to spring-time, and then to just spring.
As we have crossed a threshold and are now nearing the middle of winter, the expectation of springing-time, of hope, has entered the bloodstream. On those brief warmer days, you can even smell it. Though I love the snow and how the sun gleams off its surface, I do also enjoy the warmth and greenery of spring and summer.
What stirred these thoughts? I’ll tell you.
As my family and I were driving to Old Forge this past weekend (just before a snowstorm hit), we drove past Whetstone Gulf, one of the great New York State parks situated on the outskirts of the Adirondacks. This past year, my family and I camped there several times and it now has become one of our favorite pastimes.
There is something primal in it, something that harkens back to a lost time.
I love waking up and smelling the early morning air in the woods. Much to my surprise, my children love it just as much.
They love to hike the ridge that lines the gulf, which when seen from the peak, leaves those who are frightened of heights a bit wobbly in the knees.
They also love to swim in the cool water that flows through the park, which I must admit is bit cool for me.
They love to get ice cream from the gatehouse. They love to ride their bikes around the campground. They love to eat over an open fire.
Do you see the trend? They love…
And I love that we get to spend time together as a family away from the modern world (for the most part).
So, as we wait in expectation for springing time to return, we wait in hope that another summer will begin with those same words: They love…
If I can begin a sentence with that, it is a sentence worth writing.
Scott Keen is the author of three young adult fantasy novels, Scar of the Downers, Rise of the Branded, and War of the Downer King.