Why I’ve Chosen Photography, Rather Than Screenwriting, As My Creative ‘Second Track’

by Shelt Garner

The Good Old Days in Asia.

Being a kook without any friends, you pay a social tax of sorts. People like me thrash around far, far longer than need be because we simply don’t have anyone to give us any advice. And, yet, there is a specific instance where this is helpful: when you decide to randomly do something because you feel its the best for you.

But given how messy the process of getting to the point where you know what you want to do is, people who are “normal” think you’re an idiot at best and a crank at worst. They just don’t take you seriously because you don’t meet the metrics of the “normal” world.

Or, to put another way, “It’s a creative thing, you wouldn’t understand.”

Great subject from my Seoul days.

Anyway, for some time now, I’ve been very publicly and very conspicuously been thrashing around, looking for a second creative “track” to supplement my main track of writing a four novel series. A normal person, say, one with a significant other, would have probably either kept quiet about all this or have far less lofty goals.

But I’m old enough to know who I am. I’m 100% extroverted and I have absolutely no idea what I’m doing with my life. I can’t just “follow the rules” because I have no fucking clue with the fucking rules are. And, gentle reader, the concept of “personal responsibility” to me is bullshit. In general, the phrase in my experience is a code word for being racist. The absolute need for people to take “personal responsibility” doesn’t account for what do you do when there are things out of your control? That aren’t your responsibility? Then what? What are the fucking rules for that?

The net result of all of this is actual, normal adults think I’m a fool. They grow tired of my dreams because it seems like I do a lot of talking and not a lot of hard work. So, when things suddenly change, they are shocked that I actually had it in me.

But back to (fashion) photography.

At the height of my glory in Seoul.

Photography, along with being a pop-rock DJ, is organic to my personality. The thing that has stopped me from doing anything with my photographic ability has been a lack of, well, equipment. I’ve been so wrapped up in buying books for the novels I’m working on that I’ve not thought much about anything else.

But, recently, as I’ve grown frustrated with the slow pace of the novels, I decided I wanted a second track. I first thought it was going to be screenwriting. And, yet, there’s a problem.

First, the learning curve for screenwriting is so severe that I would have to draw a lot — maybe all — of my energy away from my main track of working on the novels. That’s just not something I’m prepared to do.

Such a great subject.

So, after a lot of conspicuous thrashing about with different options, I’ve finally settled on photography as my second track because I have an organic ability and I’m using a totally different part of my mind to tell stories in a different way. What’s more I have a real passion for photography.

The only thing standing in my way at the moment is I’m very fucking stubborn and want to buy the best possible camera I can. I don’t really have anything to take pictures of — there’s no rush — so I’m content to bide my time while I save up the money necessary to get the camera I think would be best for me for the type of photography I want to engage in.

But, as I mentioned, the process of getting to this point has left anyone paying attention thinking I’m a (drunk) (bonkers) fool who is all talk and can be safely ignored.

And, yet, as I like to say, I’ll put a move on you.

Panic! On The Middle Aged Dance Floor

by Shelt Garner

Oh good God, do I need to wrap something up sooner rather than later. I have four good-to-great novels I’m working on and I keep spinning my wheels when it comes to the specifics.


I think, honestly, that what’s going on is a form of the dreaded writer’s block. But, in this case, it’s not that I don’t know what to write, it’s that I write all this really good copy and…then throw it out because it’s not perfect. It doesn’t fit the exact vision I have in my mind.

And this repeats over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over for months and…gulp…years. So, starting today, I’m going to do something radical — I’m not starting at the beginning anymore.

I have much of the first novel mapped out with an outline. So, I’m going to pick random chapters in the outline and write them out. I may, for the sake of some sort of overall vision, start to write from the midpoint and finish the second half of the novel to force myself to finish the novel.

That’s all I got. That’s the Hail Mary Pass move I’m going to finish this first novel so I can finish all four novels by my birthday in February. I feel so embarrassed that I’ve been talking about these novels for years now and I have nothing to show for it.

But, to be fair, some of that comes from I doubled the project on the fly because I felt it was absolutely necessary.

Anyway. At least I have some sort of strategy as to get myself out of this very annoying hole. Wish me luck.

Time To Do Something Radical With The Development & Writing Of These Four Novels

by Shelt Garner

Things are going really well with these four novels that I’m developing and writing all at the same time. And, yet, there’s a problem — I’m lingering a little too long on the beginning of the first novel.

I keep revising and revising the exact sequence of scenes to a ridiculous extent.

I’m giving myself an astonishingly tight turn around timeframe. I want to finish the first draft of the last novel no later than around my birthday in February. I’ve done a back-of-the-envelope schedule for myself and to fit into it I need to break this bad habit of mulling the beginning of the first book so much.

As such, I’m moving on. Leaving scenes blank beyond their description in the outline. I can come back to the scenes I haven’t finished at some point later in the process. I know what I’m going to write in them, it’s just something doing so causes me to tinker with everything over and over again to the point that I don’t get past the first three chapters.

This is not, in the long run, sustainable.

So, instead of fucking with chapters 1, 2, 3, of the first novel, I’m going to delve into its chapters 4, 5, 6, 7. As it stands, the first act ends around Chapter 10 (the exact number keeps bouncing around between 7,8,9 & 10). But these four novels are so good, so interesting and I have the looming prospect of buying a Nikon 780 in the next few months in front of me that I’m feeling a huge amount of self-generated pressure to put up or shut up.

My writing and storytelling ability is so much better than it was when I started this process. Time to rock.

All Systems Go With This Four Novel Series

by Shelt Garner

I know things are going well with this first novel in the four novel series because I’ve just about worn myself down when it comes to all these arbitrary writing “laws” I’ve come up with. Some of them are so dumb and are so getting in the way — and I’m enjoying writing again so much — that I’m just about to ditch them just so I can finish something, anything.

Everything — at the moment — is humming along.

It just that writing a novel with the high standards I have is extremely time intensive. It just takes time to get to the point where you can write a scene without worrying that the whole plot will collapse because of this or that dumb thing you didn’t think about.

But, again, things are going well. I’m throwing everything I have creatively at this first novel in the series. I just have to, like, allow myself to write shit for the first draft so something gets done sooner rather than later.

The Development Of My Four Novel Series Is Going Well

by Shelt Garner

I’m really throwing myself at this series. I’m have a very specific, methodical method of working up to the actual writing of each individual scene. I do so much work before I sit down to write a scene at this point that hopefully — hopefully — things won’t fall apart like they have so often in the last.

At least, that’s the goal.

I have four novels to write and I can’t spin my creative wheels forever. There comes a point where I have to put up or shut up.

But I’m taking a moment or two break so when I throw myself at writing again I will look at my scene development with fresh eyes. It’s taken me so long to figure out how to get to this point.

It’s interesting how Trump leaving office after I absolutely expected him to steal the election forced me to change my gameplan for the novels I was working on. What was just two novels became four.

Wish me luck.

On The Matter Of How To Refer To Characters

by Shelt Garner

There comes a point in the development process where you just go with your gut. For instance, do you refer to your characters by their given names or by their surnames in the text of the novel?

Ms. Salander

Since Stieg Larsson used surnames (for the most part) in his books, that’s the standard I’m using. But some of it is – someone will have a problem with anything you decide to do. The key issue is that you decide something, anything and have the courage of your convictions enough to see things through.

There comes a point that that’s all you have.

So, I’m going with referring to characters by their last names. I think it’s a more serious approach to the overall story. It makes it read more like newspaper or magazine copy.

Things are going well for the time being, overall. We’ll see, though.

Chapter One, Down

by Shelt Garner

I’ve finished the first chapter in the first draft of the first novel of a four book series. Because I understand how *I* develop a novel, I now am going to sketch out the scenes and “sequels” of the second chapter, then sit down and start writing it.

I still have a lot of reading to do. I really need to read even more about how to lay out scenes and how to write dialogue. I also, lulz, need to read more novels in my genre just to get a sense of how other people have done it (successfully.) Though, to be fair, I did soak up a lot of interesting influences from watching Mare of Easttown.

Having said that, I really REALLY need to read more fiction. It’s just I’m so obsessed with producing fiction, I find it difficult to consume it. But that’s a dumb excuse. I need to do better.

I am very pleased with what I’ve managed to come up with. Things, in a sense, are moving a lot faster, even though I keep saying that and a year later I’m still just working on the first chapter. But I did add to novels to the series and it’s just taken a lot longer than I expected to get to the point where I could start writing again.

Canon Management Is Such A Pain

by Shelt Garner

I have a “cinematic universe” that is currently comprised of four novels and it’s a real pain to manage it all. I have to keep all these things in my mind to keep things consistent and sometimes it’s really hard work on a tactical level, if nothing else.

There is software you can buy to manage such things, but I find that Google Docs is far more flexible. And, in all honesty, I think the only solution to canon management is to write everything, finish it, then read through the whole thing to ensure that everything is consistent.


But that’s the nature of writing a four book series, I guess.

Things continue to be a lot of fun — if a whole lot of work. I’m beginning to see writing these novels as a really hard job that I really enjoy.

A Casual Review of ‘Free Guy’

by Shelt Garner

I just got back from the Ryan Reynolds vehicle “Free Guy”and it was pretty good. For once I didn’t walk out from a movie the moment it reached the inciting incident.

I can see how this movie was probably pitched as “The Matrix meets Ready Player: One meets The Truman Show.” It definitely had the vibe of a movie drafting off of movie-going race memory of The Matrix. “What if The Matrix was a comedy?”

The movie sells itself, in that respect.

But this definitely being a Ryan Reynolds vehicle is all over this movie. One thing that was interesting to me was that Jodie Comer was given a make under. She’s a beautiful woman and yet the producers made sure to make Reynolds the center of attention. Though, there were a few times during the movie when I couldn’t figure out who the protagonist was supposed to be.

And, yet, I was pleased with the movie overall. It was sold entertainment and it had Reynolds’ established sensitive male sense of humor that has been pretty consistent throughout much of his Hollywood career.

It is notable that the female lead’s name was “Mille” and the guy who was in love with her is one of the stars of Stranger Things. Makes you wonder how the decision to name the character that was made.

Anyway, I really liked Free Guy. It even gave me some inspiration as to how to make the third act of the first book in the thriller series I’m working on more — thrilling.

Reading This Thriller Is Really Riling Me Up Creatively

by Shelt Garner

My need to one up the author of this thriller I’m reading is growing white hot. The reason is, he’s got me hooked — event though I find the whole thing rather meh — and I want to figure out how to achieve the same effect in my four novels.

One way I’m hooked is I want to know why his heroine acts the way she does. Given that by the time I get around to the two novels in the series that would be the most direct in their similarity to this novel I will have laid out exactly why my heroine acts the way she does, I now have to up my game.

This is the fun part of development — when I have a challenging problem to fix in an interesting, organic and innovative manner. I live for stuff like this. But even with the novels that are vaguely similar to this thriller, I’m coming at things in a dramatically different fashion.

My personality and vision are obviously very, very, very different from the author of this thriller. There are some gauzy similarities in our visions, but some of it is just coincidence and some of it is form follows function.

That, of course, doesn’t stop me from frantically trying to think up ways to make it clear that MY series is far more interesting and unique than this series I’m reading. I’m kind of OCD about such things.