The Alphabet Now Ends At Y …

… Or, as an alternative title, “A New Year Starts In Two Days and 2017 Ends With Another Death.”

Sue Grafton passed away on December 28. A writer known for the Kinsey Millhone alphabet mysteries, her last novel in a series that started with “A is for Alibi” was the just released “Y is for Yesterday.” The final novel in the series was supposedly going to be titled “Z is for Zero,” and released in 2019,  bringing to an end a series that started in 1982. It would have encompassed 26 novels and a handful of short stories, but Grafton’s family reports there aren’t any plans to have the final novel finished by a ghostwriter. Her daughter wrote that “as far as we in the family are concerned, the alphabet now ends at Y.”

I make note of this occurrence, because an end is a time for reflection, whether it’s the end of a time, such as the old year being renewed, or whether it’s the end of a life, when you should count your blessings. Because I’m fortunate for the life I have, and the people who are part of it.

There were a few high points in 2017. I started a new job in August, doing pretty much what I did for the last two decades. My oldest daughter ran three 5k races. My youngest started her senior year in college. My wife’s work transferred her to Eastern Michigan to work with a student there, and she walks as much as I used when I worked at Art Van, and is reaping the benefits of a healthier lifestyle.

The short story reprint I sold to Digital Fiction continues to pay royalties, the most recent check depositing this past Friday. I sold another reprint to them, which should come out at some point in the near future, and it’s really nice to have unexpected “mad money” show up out of the blue. It lets me understand how my writer friends make a living at what they do. The experience of getting a check in the mail (actually an email) that pays for something you created is so satisfying, and every time it happens I want another fix.

Which means I need to make some resolutions for 2018, have to capitalize on all the good things that did happen in 2017, because Sue Grafton died and the alphabet now ends at Y. Fans of the Kinsey Millhone series won’t get the finish they wanted. If someone does write a Z novel (whether approved by the Grafton family or not), it won’t be Sue Grafton’s Z novel.

The first thought I had when I saw the news about Grafton was to wonder what it would feel like if I heard that George R.R. Martin had passed. We’d never get the final verses in the Song of Ice and Fire. HBO’s take doesn’t count; a television adaptation isn’t the same as a doorstop novel. We almost didn’t get an ending for Stephen King’s The Dark Tower, when he was hit by a minivan in 1999. And while Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time was completed by Brandon Sanderson, the story was still left incomplete to some extent with James Oliver Rigney Jr’s passing in 2007.

Time is short. Sue Grafton was 77 when she died this week. Her writing career spanned decades. She finished her first novel when she was 22, had a successful career as a screenwriter, in addition to the last near-score years spent working on the Kinsey Millhone series.

So, my resolution for 2018 is that I won’t waste time any longer. I don’t want the alphabet to end with Y.

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About stephenwnagy

writer, father, husband. not necessarily in that order.
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