So many writers say “this is the year I publish my novel.” Well, I’m going to say it too. I’m off to a good start on a project I began in 2008 while serving in Baghdad as an Army cubicle drone at Al Faw Palace. One can only crunch numbers and shuffle the cells of spreadsheets for so many hours per day before he begins to notice the audible *pop* of brain cells self-destructing. So, I started writing. Oddly enough, the story is set in a huge desert, though on another earth-like planet. I have an outline and a good idea of where the idea may go, but that’s the weak part of the effort. The strong part is character development. After living with these characters in my head for a couple years, they’re like friends. I learn something new about one of them each day. My worry is that I’m not taking an “organic” enough approach, that I’m boxing myself in too much with the outline. I’m always conscious of it.
The working title of the novel is Midway, because it takes place on a planet strategically located about halfway between Earth and where we think lies the home world of a nasty alien race called the Hashrati. The Hashrati (“Hash” among those who fight them) are a race of insect-like creatures that seem to operate on a collective intelligence, as one might expect of a higher order of ants or wasps. There’s no negotiating with them, and they’re coming. I expect to have a better title strike me in the head like a brick at some point during the process. I think the title Midway may carry too much World War II baggage.
An element in the story is that a microbe on the planet causes the local human population–the major mystery of the book is why they’re there–to have green skin. This microbe lives in the body symbiotically. Shortly after beginning the novel, I picked up a copy of John Scalzi’s Old Man’s War and was horrified to find green people in his excellent novel. I nearly dumped my own project right there, but friends in my writing group encouraged me to stick with it anyway. My green people and Scalzi’s are similar only in the color of their skin, and I’m OK with it now, but it made me feel sick for a couple weeks.
So, I HEREBY RESOLVE (oh, Brother) to complete my novel in 2011.