I haven’t written anything here in a while, and the reason for it is that I have been writing other things in other places. Now that I am officially on staff for www.indiegames.com, I’m writing articles for them 4-6 times a week, which involves finding and trying good games on top of the writing itself. It’s also November, which back home in the USA is National Novel Writing Month, a.k.a. NaNoWriMo.
Every year, a lot of people celebrate NaNoWriMo by trying to pump out 50,000 words of a story over the course of the month. It’s doable if you keep up with it, though when I tried last year I got a few thousand words in and then stopped. This year, I picked up the same story and am trying to actually finish it. It may be a little cheaty to use the same idea and what I started with last year, but this is a story idea that’s been floating around my head for years waiting to be written.
Besides, when the goal is 50,000 words, what’s a 2,500 word head start?
I’ve done a much better job of sticking with it this year, though I’m still way behind. At about 2/3 of the way through the month, I have achieved only 1/5 of the target word count. As you can see above, my daily average word count needs to be high in order to get this thing done this month. Even if I don’t make it by the end of November, though, it feels good to get this all out, finally, to develop it further.
Here’s the preliminary synopsis I wrote when I started on the novel again this year:
It’s been almost 20 years since the cessation of hostilities with the She’Mula, humankind’s first sentient neighbors. Michael is a human student at the colony’s only high school, focused more on making it to adulthood than on the alien race. When Te’teala, the only human raised from birth by the She’Mula, comes to the colony and starts going to the school, Michael befriends her and finds himself learning quite a bit about the She’Mula. As he watches her struggle to find her place in the universe, the path to his own place becomes clearer.
If I get this finished and start trying to market it, I will need a better synopsis, but for now I think it does a decent job of hitting on the main themes of the book — cultural differences, personal growth, and how exposure to the former can affect the latter. I can’t remember when the seed of this story first got planted in my head or how. I’ve mulled over it for so many years that its origins are lost in time. But my experiences living in Japan have shaped the direction it’s taken in my head and the direction I want it to go.
There’s still a lot of polishing that needs to be done on what I’ve already written — the entire intro is tell with no showing and I have some ideas about how to fix that. I need to nail down more details about the setting, the cultures, and the subcultures within the cultures so that events will fall out believably. I also need to figure out how to connect key events in believable fashion.
These things will iron themselves out in time, though. For now, I have words to put to binary canvas. Have an excerpt from the current and very rough draft:
These days, most Christians were wary of She’mula spirituality. The She’mula all had strange marks called ikane on the right sides of their bodies, glowing designs that appeared first around the eye once they had learned to connect to what they called the “greater consciousness” and spread downward over time. The She’mula greater consciousness was supposedly a semi-conscious nebula of the souls of dead ancestors which permeated the universe. The benefits of this, they said, were many, since most She’mula were able to communicate directly with some ancestors and absorb the knowledge of others through meditation and all She’mula were able to send information across the galaxy using it. No humans, religious or otherwise, had put much stock in the claim at first, assuming that it was just an explanation for a natural physical phenomenon unique to the She’mula.
Then a human, Shunmei Li, had developed the ikane.
At first, there was concern that it was a disease or parasite which had jumped species. She was quarantined and tested, but medical science found nothing. Her health was fine. Her DNA was unchanged. No viruses were present in her bloodstream. Any foreign bacteria she picked up during her stay in She’mula territory seemed to check out as harmless or even beneficial. Science was stumped.
But the whole time she was in quarantine, Shunmei Lee had access to GalacticNet-enabled computers. She posted videos talking about how the greater consciousness was real and what it meant to be connected. She created a web site and forums where people who wanted to know more could ask questions and discuss her answers.
Far across the stars, back on Earth, a man who had followed her teachings but never been anywhere near a She’mula in his life also developed the ikane. When a thorough checkup showed that this Jayson Rogers didn’t even have the foreign bacteria that Shunmei Lee had, much less any other problems, scientists had been forced to conclude that the marks represented no threat to the human race and let both of them go. Jayson stayed on Earth, but joined Shunmei Lee in teaching others about the She’mula greater consciousness on GalacticNet.