Publish or Perish

by Shelt Garner

I am AGAIN beginning to make my way through the second draft of the novel. I STILL aim to wrap this process up no later than the end of spring. But I really need to stop being such a fucking perfectionist.

I have to realize that some of the issues with this thing won’t be addressed by me, but, rather Beta Readers and maybe a professional editor I might hire. But the clock is ticking.

If I don’t stop fucking around, it will be next year before I start the beta reader process and with the looming Fourth Turning approaching in late 2024, early 2025, I don’t want to do all this work with the novel only to it all come crashing down because we have a civil war.

Anyway. I need to be methodical about this process, but I can’t just spend months making sure that the beginning of the novel is absolutely right. I have to allow myself to “give up” and just get something, anything done that completes my vision for this novel and the story I hope to tell.

That’s the dream, at least.

I still hope to wrap this second draft up by no later than the end of spring in June.


by Shelt Garner

The only way I’m going to finish this novel is to accept that I’m neither Stieg Larsson nor Gillian Flynn. I can aspire to write as well as they do, but I have my own style and my own limitations.

If I keep comparing myself to them, I’m never going to be satisfied with this novel. Remember, the old quip is, “No novel is ever finished, only abandoned.” So, I have to be prepared to finish (or abandon) this novel once I tell the story I want to tell.

I’m going over the second draft now and I’m really worried that there isn’t enough character development. I’m also worried that things are moving too fast in some places.

But, I think, the key thing is to just finish something, anything and then let the Beta Reader process take over. And I hope to pay an editor to stress test the story at some point, as well.

It’s tough, though. Things have gotten so much better with this story, that I want to keep improving the story until I can look at feel it compares favorably to professional, published authors that I respect.

And, yet, I also realize I’m not going to live forever.

Well, If Nothing Else, My Novel Is Getting REALLY Fucking Good

by Shelt Garner

I may have drunk myself to an early death — I still don’t know the results of some tests I got — but I am doing a first go-over of the second draft of my novel and it’s really beginning to coming unto its own.

So, while it could be that I drop dead before I can even query this novel and it never actually sees the light of day — I know I’ve come up with something that at least won’t embarrass me.

And that was, in real terms, part of the point of this endeavor from the beginning. My writing and storytelling has improved dramatically since I started this novel.

The whole thing is far more cohesive and character driven than it was begun. I’ve come up with a heroine who is strong enough that she might be compared favorably to Mare of Easttown, or maybe, in her own way a older, more mellow American iteration of the Lisbeth Salander trope.

Or something.

Won’t matter much, of course, if I’m dead.

I Feel Like Fucking President Grant Writing His Memoirs

by Shelt Garner

I’m kind of spooked at the moment. I have some health problems and I am kind of being left out to dry for no apparent reason. I was told I would get the results of some tests today and…nothing.

Which makes me wonder if maybe whatever was learned from the test is so bad that the doctor in charge won’t sign off on things until I can be told in person that things aren’t looking so great.

And, yet, who the fuck knows.

I could be reading way too much into the delay. And, yet, even if everything is fine, I find myself having something of an existential crisis. I would like to finish my first novel before I die — or become a domestic political refugee when the country collapses — and this not knowing one way or another is really starting to get to me.

It’s one of those things where no matter how things turn out, I’ve been forced to stew in my existential juices for a few days because I don’t know what the fuck is going on.

Hopefully — hopefully — everything is fine and I can keep throwing myself at the novel. Wish me luck.

Literary Types Can Be So Fucking Frustrating

by Shelt Garner

I continue to worry that I could write the fucking Bible and because I come across as a drunk crank to snooty literary types that I’m doomed to never be a published author. I find this situation so strange because I thought as creative types themselves that literary types would embrace someone who’s a bit of a kook like me.

The only reason why this is even an issue is I continue to be dissed by people I want to pay to help me work on my novel. This situation really scrambles not just my sense of self, but self worth. I’ve always thought my colorful, sometimes larger-than-life personality was a strength, not a weakness.

But, here I am, worried that it won’t be my actual storytelling ability that prevents me from selling a novel — but ME.

And, yet, I know who I am and if you don’t like it — fuck you.

I try to be the best person I can be and I feel I have the gift not only of gab but of storytelling. I continue to work on this novel in a vacuum, so it’s taking much, much longer than it should to finish.

I’m really, really pleased with how this novel is shaping up. It’s getting really good. I’m impressed with the scenario I’ve come up with and this is saying something from someone who is brutal on my writing.

Only time will tell, I guess. All I ask of literary types is to give me a chance rather than dismissing me because they think I’m weird. I suppose the difference between being “weird” and “endearing” is….success.

Is It Ok To Open Your Novel With A Sex Scene?

by Shelt Garner

First, please read this carefully: I fucking don’t care what you do with your novel or how you do it, just tell a great story.

Now, with that out of the way, at least let me give you my reasoning for suggesting that you should at least hold fuck off for a tiny little bit before you have your character fuck each others brains now, no matter how much “character work” and MFA person may tell you is possible.

In general, from my casual study of successful mainstream novels — or, at least, specifically thrillers — you shouldn’t start you novel with a murder or a sex scene.

With any great story, you (often, not always) start off slow in a way that introduces setting and character. Then, once your readers have their bearings, you can murder and fuck as much as you like.

But that’s just my opinion.

I’ve been writing my first novel for years now and, along the way, I’ve both done a lot of reading and come up with some really strong opinions about what makes for a “great story.”

But there is to fucking revealed truth about what makes a great story. If you can tell a great story by having a murder or a fuck session on the first page — have at. Please. I want you to.

I’m just giving you a rule of thumb that is based on some sort of sense of what makes for a good story. In MY OPINION, if you open your novel with a fuck session…the audience (or at least ME) doesn’t give a shit. Who are these people? Why are they fucking? Why should I care?

But I’m not perfect and I do not have some sort of revealed truth about storytelling that I’ve brought down from Mt. Sini. You do you. Just, as I said, tell a great story.

Once More Unto The Breach

by Shelt Garner

I’ve been feeling rather discouraged the last few days with my novel because of my age. But I think also I haven’t really been feeling discouraged so much as running hot. I needed to kind of cool down so I could look at the novel with fresh eyes.

I do this every once in a while. I kind of just pause for a weekend. Usually when I do this, I reflect on some of the more underdeveloped elements of character and plot so when I do sit down to write again, things go a lot faster.

I just usually have a moment or two whenever I have one of these pauses where all my insecurities come rushing to the forefront of my mind. But I have to accept that even if I stick the landing, I’m probably going to be in my mid-50s before I’m a published author.

And that’s if I’m lucky.

I also have to accept that I need to have a lot more structure in my day as well as I need to read more, watch more and definitely have more than just this one novel as a writing project.

Known Unknowns 2023 – 2025

by Shelt Garner

Will I Sell My Novel?
I’m not getting younger and with a real risk that we may have a civil war, I’m worried that a combination of ageism and a systemic collapse of the United States will prevent me from even getting close to selling my first novel.

Is Jon Lovett Leaving Crooked Media?

Lovett has been unusually salty during Pod Save America advertising promos of late. And then there was that moment in time when he outwardly at least seemed to be “quiet quitting” by not showing up to work. I think I’m over thinking things, but there definitely is an unusually high level of hostility of late between Lovett and the other Crooked bros.

Will Lindsey Graham Be Outed?
I saw a blind item on Tik-Tok that suggested that something might happen to “out” South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham. I find this very, very dubious. I don’t care if Graham is gay or not, but the political implications of his relationship with the MAGA base being changed by the thing that everyone assumes about him to be verified would be interesting.

Is Trump Going to get Indicted & Will It Matter?

I’ve been told for some time that Trump facing some accountability is just about to happen and squat has happened in real criminal terms. So, the idea that Trump might ACTUALLY get indicted over the Stormy Daniels imbriglio is not something I take all that seriously. And, yet, it definitely FEELS like this time may be different and Something Big might be about to happen. I asked a Traditionalist relative if they would vote for someone who was indicted and they said no. I have my doubts if the choice in their mind is between an indicted person and someone who Tucker Carlson tells them is a “groomer” and the leader of the “woke cancel culture mob.” So, lulz. I don’t think it’s going to matter if Trump is indicted.

Who Wins The Republican Nomination?

At the moment, seems that Trump is going to win the GQP nomination pretty handily. And, yet, it’s also at least possible that something happens and Ron “Little D” DeSantis wins in an upset. At the moment, at least, it definitely seems as though it’s too far out for us to figure out which way things are going to go. It really could go either way. And whichever way things ultimately go, we’ll look back and think about how obvious it was that that was the only option.

Will #NeverTrump Implode if DeSantis is the Nominee?

I am beginning to believe that the #NeverTrump movement is going to face a real crossroads at some point between now and spring 2025. Either they give up and support Ron DeSantis, or we have a civil war and they become something akin to the War Democrats of the First American Civil War. There’s no middle ground for them. But I do think if DeSantis is the Republican nominee that a few major #NeverTrump “thought leaders” will bounce out of the cause back into the Putin-esque arms of a DeSantis-lead Republican Party.

Will Trump Bounce To The Patriot Party?
This is a real mystery at this point. It could go either way if Trump loses the GQP nomination. He’s just as likely to collapse into a puddle and support DeSantis as he is to go crazy and bounce to the Patriot Party and split the Republican ticket. The likelihood of Second American Civil War increases significantly because if Trump ran as a member of the Patriot Party and lost, then he would be a lot more likely to demand Red States leave the Union than if he was the nominee and simply won.

The Horace Greeley Endgame

Given the president’s advanced age, we have to take seriously the possibility that he may shuffle off this mortal coil at some point between 2025. The closer we get to that crucial few months between Election Day and Certification Day, the more it’s possible that some pretty basic political assumptions we have about the 2024 election would be thrown out the window because we’re suddenly dealing with the untested President Harris. Any student of history will tell you this kind of catastrophe kind of writes itself.

Will We Have A Civil War?

A lot depends on Trump. He is dumb that it’s easy to imagine him, unto himself, being the reason why we have a civil war. If he somehow loses the 2024 election he may begin to rant about the need for Red States — starting with Texas — to leave the Union because he got his feelings hurt. I vacillate widely as to how likely this is. At the moment, I just don’t know. Could go either way.

….Or Does Autocracy Come To America?
When it comes to autocracy in America, there are two main scenarios. Either Trump is our new autocrat and it’s not until his successor that our transformation into a Hungary-style illiberal autocracy is complete or a President DeSantis becomes America’s Putin from the get-go.

Good luck, folks.

The Second Draft Of My Novel Continues To Improve

by Shelt Garner

I am really pleased with where things stand with this second draft. I do have a few concerns, however. One concern is how long its taking me. I really need to speed up my writing. I simply do not have forever. I continue to hope to have this second draft done by around June.

That’s the hope.

But I sometimes find myself falling into the bad habit of just kind of drifting towards my goal. It’s very annoying. And, yet, the reason why it’s taking so long as I am really thinking hard about character. The only way this novel is going to work is if I really, really improve character.

Another fear I have is this fucking novel is too long. Or will be. It’s going to blow past the 100,000 word sweat spot, to the point that I am struggling with a second novel that would be in the 80,000 to 100,000 range. The only problem is, I’m so focused on this first novel, that it’s really difficult to turn my attention away and write about anything else.

Holy Shit

by Shelt Garner

Writing it may take me longer than I hope, but I’m really feeling great about the state of my second draft. It’s actually professional-grade storytelling. I’m really leaning into character this go round.

I’m ecstatic.

A lot and I mean A LOT could still go wrong. Writers are known for dying unexpectedly for dumb reasons. And, yet, you know, you have to have hope. After years and years of spinning my wheels, I finally, finally feel like I’m living up to my “potential” that the late Annie Shapiro claimed I have.

At 50, I’m old as hell, but, fuck you. (wink.)

My hope is, of course, that now things will speed up significantly. I have the cornerstone of the story, so the rest of it SHOULD flow really fast.

I hope.