Dreaming Of Hollywood: My Storytelling Ability Has Gotten A Lot Better

by Shelt Garner

Even though I’m really old relative to most people who want to break into Hollywood via screenwriting, I do, at times, have a larger-than-life personality. Especially when I’m liquored up.

So, at times, I find himself wondering if I could replicate my “fame” in the Seoul expat community somewhere actually important like NYC or LA. While I love NYC, I suspect that given the more fluid nature of LA life (specifically how much of the place revolves around storytelling) I might find success there easier than NYC.

The novel I’m working on is going really, really well. It’s still a huge amount of work, but it’s a lot of fun.

I continue to think about at least three screenplays that deal with Big Ideas in an entertaining fashion. But, as I keep saying, actually buying FinalDraft would be the end of the beginning of the process, not the beginning. I refuse to buy FinalDraft if I can’t immediately sit down and start writing a screenplay.

With that in mind, I need to start reading screenplays and watching more movies. I’m so wrapped up in developing and writing the novel, that I really live in a content bubble right now.

Anyway. Something’s gotta give. I’m not going to live forever and I really want a second creative “tract.”

But I really want to finish this novel.

I Just Want Literary People To Give Me The Benefit Of The Doubt

by Shelt Garner

Here I am, hard at work on my novel, and I keep having existential angst that when the time comes and I try to sell my novel, any prospective literary agent will look at my social media output and “swipe left” as they say.

It’s all very frustrating.

I hate the idea that just because I get worked up about MAGA online that that, in itself, would prevent someone from giving my novel a chance. Sure, I’ll self-publish anyway if it comes to that, but I feel the novel I’m developing and writing right now is so good that it should be judged on the merits.

As an aside, I will note that I’m really interested starting an email newsletter about the writing life. But I want at least three (3) people to sign up from the get-go before I invest any time (or money) into it. But no one likes me and I have no friends, so it definitely looks as though nothing will happen on that front.


The novel is going really well at this point. Someone may still steal a march on me, but the story itself is so good that I’m willing to continue to allow myself to be pretty much completely delusional and work in a vacuum. When something from the outside world changes that makes the novel as I currently envision it untenable, then I will address at that at the time.

I have a growing interest in writing screenplays because I would like to think if I manage to write a really good one (or three) that Hollywood types would be a bit more understanding about the more…uh…colorful aspects of my personality that I exhibit on social media. Though, as Annie Shapiro would say, I’m a “Delusional jerk with a good heart.” I have a good heart, even if I, at times, “delusional.”

This novel is sooooo good.

I just want people to judge it on its merits, not how bonkers I may come across here and on social media.

The Internet Archive & A Value Free Novel From An Internet ‘Crank’

by Shelt Garner

Someone, again, poked around this site using the Internet Archive. Whenever this happens, it feels like I’m on a date against my will. Someone was doing “due diligence” on me for some reason. I have a feeling I know who it is and I fear I may have, yet again, failed whatever test the person had for me.

No matter what, I always fail if there are metrics involved. I just don’t do well with metrics for various reasons. If you judge me on my merits, then I do fairly well. But if you have some sort of Twitter liberal metric that you’re judging me against — then I’m just an Internet crank.

So, I find myself worrying a great deal about the novel I’m developing. Will literary agents judge me strictly on what I write, or will they, too, do “due diligence” on me and dismiss me as a Internet crank no matter how good the actual copy is?

This is something that has begun to suck up a huge amount of mental energy because it would be so typical of me — I do really well at something, only to fail not because of what I wrote, but because I don’t fit the Twitter liberal narrative. I will, tragically, just be another Ken Bone. (Though, to be fair to myself, my politics fall well within the Twitter liberal spectrum and his did not.)

Anyway, things are going really well with the novel. Things are moving very, very quickly. I hope to wrap up a first draft early 2021. After that, we’ll just have to see exactly how things work out. But I’m really thrown myself into this novel and I’m finally, at last, feeling pleased at what I’ve managed to come up with.

A huge amount of things can still go wrong, from someone stealing a march on me to the coming Biden Era making the whole thing moot. But the point of writing a novel — proving to myself I can do it — will have been achieved, even if those things unexpectedly happen.

Things Are Moving Extremely Fast With The #Novel Now

by Shelt Garner

I’m at peace over this novel now. I have a very specific vision and I have the ability to tell it. While there are a multitude of things that could go wrong, I know in my heart that I’m going to at least get a first draft done very, very soon in real terms.

So, again, anyone who told me to “just write” a few years ago can fucking suck it, you shithead. I’m glad you’re out of my life.

Because writing and developing this novel is a marathon, not a sprint, I’m occasionally taking little breaks so I can reflect and do a lot of reading. I’m quite pleased that I finally have figured out how to tell a version of this huge story I came up with a few years ago.

It’s still very possible someone will steal a march on me creatively for various reasons, but it’s out of my hands at this point. I just have to focus on my own vision and see what happens.

‘BBB’ & A Weekend Quest For Distraction

by Shelt Garner

They a writer’s best ideas come from “BBB” — Bed, Bath and Bus. It’s when you’re in bed, or taking a bath or on the bus that you realize how to solve a writing problem or break through a blockage.

Things are moving extremely fast with my outline right now, but I really need to distract myself. I need to read something totally new or go for walk and smoke a cigar in a new place. Something, anything, to stroke my creativity in a new and unexpected fashion.

We got this.

I will note that my “textbook,” Stieg Larsson’s “The Girl Who Played With Fire” is becoming less and less applicable to the story. It’s still a great resource because it’s a book I can read over and over and over again, but I’ve left it as any sort of source of inspiration when it comes to what I was using it for — structure.

I’ve figured out my own structure for this novel. But, like I said, the issue right now is to let myself grow distracted so I can tap into my native creativity. I’m so glad I didn’t “just write” a few years ago when random cocksuckers on the Internet demanded it.

I was right to do development.

Novel Update: ‘Just Write’

by Shelt Garner

Several years ago, at the beginning of my quest to write a novel, I got into a huge fight with someone on Periscope. They wanted me to “just write” and not do any development. This person was a fucking piece of shit and I never want them in my life again for any fucking reason.

In the end, I was right to excise them from my creative life — here I am years later exactly where I want to be. If I had “just wrote” as this person demanded, I would have wasted a lot of time and never actually finished anything. But I believed in myself and so here I am just about to “just write” on my own terms and produce the first draft of a novel I can be proud of.

I still have a huge amount of work to do, but now that I’ve figured out some pretty basic elements of the story, things will move very, very fast now. I don’t know exactly how long it’s going to take, but I’m very relieved because at last I see land ahead of me.

This is a really great story and I’m very pleased. I got this far because I stayed true to my creative vision and didn’t let random, insane cocksuckers on the Internet tell me what to do.

Had A Major ‘Ah-Ha!’ Moment With The #Novel

by Shelt Garner

After about three years of struggle, I have finally figured out not only what the story I want to tell is, but how to tell it. I’m extremely embarrassed by how long it’s taken me.

If I wasn’t totally alone, a wife or girlfriend probably would have pointed out how I’m solving a long-term problem with this story about two years ago. Or, she would have maybe told me what was obvious to everyone but me — the story was just too big. While she might have said it was “too ambitious” which would have made me angry, what would have been true was I had a lot of great set pieces, but too much time covered.

Anyway. Problem fixed now.

I still have a huge amount of reading to do. But the “snap!” I heard in my mind when I figured out how to tell this story was so loud, I’m still adjusting to how pleased I am. It’s like I realize that I finally, at last, have the credits to graduate from grad school.

A lot — A LOT — could still go wrong. But the specific reason for this creative journey is now within sight. I am going to finish a novel.

#Novel Update

by Shelt Garner

Just in the last few days I’ve had a massive “Ah-ha!” moment. It’s so massive that I’m still sort of processing the implications of it all.

I feel like how Dan Ackroyd’s original Blues Brother script was, like, 300 pages and he used just the best bits for the produced movie. This, in a sense, has happened to me.

I now know how to tell this story.

It’s going to have a lot of really cool gadgets that put James Bond to shame. It’s going to have strong, complex female characters with flaws who are believable. I have a huge amount of reading to do to get that last bit done, however.

But, in general, I have a profound sense of relief.

I’m actually going finish a novel. It’s taken me three years, but if nothing else, I’m going to actually finish the first draft of a novel that doesn’t embarrassment me pretty soon.

I say this knowing that a civil war could erupt at any moment and all my plans will be thrown up in the air, to say the least.

Hard Novel Crash

by Shelt Garner

Everything was going great with the novel until I had one of those occasional hard crashes where on a structural level everything stop making sense and the whole thing collapsed in on itself.

Add to that a hacking problem I’ve been having in which my cyber assailant has been interested in my development of the novel that I’ve produced over the last two years or so and I’ve been left rattled.

And, yet, I managed over the course of a few hours figure out the problem and am now ready to start work again. Though, I have to admit that I’m probably going to do a really, really hard reboot and write without re-using much, if anything, I’ve already written.

I need to clear my head some before I do that, though. I’m really taking this novel seriously — even more so than before — but I just can’t keep writing and re-writing forever. At some point, I have to realize the first draft just isn’t going to be perfect.

I have to allow myself to write crap, to fail when it comes to totally writing my vision for the novel.

You can’t edit a blank page, as they say.

But now that I’m beginning to warm back up to develop and write, I think I can still wrap up much of the first draft by about the same time I planned to before.

The State Of My Novel’s Development Is Strong

by Shelt Garner

Let me be clear — I have no idea what I’m doing. But I am beginning to read more and I have done enough graze-reading about how to write a novel that I feel as though I’m slowly beginning to get some sense of how to do it.

Generally, things are going well.

A few issues still exist. One of them is length. I see a “real” novel being closer to 160,000 words, but as I keep reading, the sweetspot is 80,000 – to 100,000. I’ve changed the structure of the novel around some, so it’s possible I’ll get closer to 100,000 with a lot less pain than I originally expected.

I’d like to have a first draft in the 120,000 – 140,000 range because Gone Girl and The Girl on The Train are both in that range, as I understand it. But, obviously, I’m just a boy with a dream at this point.

I honestly just want to finish a novel and say I’ve accomplished that. The fact that there are at least three more books in the series (one sequel and two prequels) is cool, yes, but I need to hurry up and finish just one.

I’m still very interested in writing a screenplay and attempting to seriously write song lyrics. But I need to give this novel 110% of my creative ability for it to be a success, so those other interests are going to be put aside for the time being.

I currently have six solid chapters sketched out. It fits within my current timetable to use the rest of the week to make those chapters readable. As such, I at least hope to spend much of this week reading.