I won't tell you how long my debut novel has been percolating ... but if it was coffee, it would be very strong by now.
I think my novel is also strong, but in a good way. The characters rise above their genre origins; they're real people. I wanted to write a story that was as much about the people who do the work as the weapons they use and the explosions that sometimes occur. With more than three decades of military service, Army and Navy, active and reserve, I hope I’ve done justice to both. Tell me if I've succeeded. With 31 years time in uniforms, my skin is pretty thick.
Despite its long gestation, it is absolutely true that pretty much anyone can do this. You must only resolve to do so.
That is the stumbling block for many, especially new novelists. FNO is about 113,000 words—437 pages, cover to cover. That's a metric ton of challenge for a new writer. What can you do? Start small, with short stories. As in all endeavors, get some training. There is a lot of it online, much of it free.
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