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.

It’s The Human Element Of Screenwriting That Appeals To Me

by Shelt Garner

By pretty much any metric I’m a failure and a loser. But there is one metric under which I excel — if you get me liquored up at a cocktail party I usually chat up the best looking woman in the room and start some pretty thought-provoking conversations about a wide-ranging series of topics.

Now, let me stress, I’m well aware that every drunk is the “funniest guy in the room” but it does appear from my time in Seoul that I actually was extremely interesting in that specific situation.

With that in mind, I find myself this New Year’s Eve mulling tipping my toe into screenwriting because I’ve reached a pretty stable point in the development of the novel I’m working on and need the rush of a big, new creative “track” to keep things interesting as I plunge into writing a serious first draft of this novel that won’t, at last, embarrass me.

I have specific conditions going forward towards my ultimate goal — hitting the pavement in LA at some point to see if I can sell a script. My biggest self-imposed condition is I have to have three completed scripts before I’ll do any such harebrained thing.

I listen to the “Script Notes” podcast and realize — oh boy — how cutthroat the screenwriting business is even if you’ve actually gone the traditional route and are, like, a normal human being. I’m about 20 years too old to be doing any of this, but I’m creative and — under the right conditions — reasonably charismatic.

So, I know if the issue is more a matter of how personable I can be in a social setting rather than my age or experience, that I have a decent shot at getting a lot closer to selling a script than you might think. I love to talk and tell stories and if I actually have a few scripts to hand someone given the opportunity, then, well, who knows.

But I have to have paper. I have to have actual completed scripts to hand to people. And that’s going to take work and, most of all, time. I’m hoping there might be some cross-pollination between the novel track and the screenplay track. One will help me look at the other in a different way.

My main focus will continue to be, of course, the novel. I guess, however, that I feel enough self-confidence that things are pretty stable on that front that I can turn my attention to a second “track.”

I just wish I wasn’t so fucking old.

I May Start A Second Creative Track: Screenwriting

by Shelt Garner

Let me be clear — I keep talking about looking into screenwriting only to realize I really have to focus on the novel. So, this could be another one of those instances. And, there are a lot of reasons why me writing screenplays would likely be quixotic. I’m too old and where I live to name a few.

But now that I’ve reached a point where the novel is going really really fast, I find myself, again, thinking of a second track — screenwriting. It would be nice to have a second creative track where I start from scratch and head towards a goal, just like I did with this novel about three years ago.

There are two other reasons why this appeals to me — one, I can leverage what I’ve learned about storytelling from working on a novel to any effort to write a screenplay and this element of Hollywood:

I’m old, but something about randomly going to LA with a few scripts under my belt and hitting the pavement is very appealing to me. But I’m really going to focus on the novel for the time being. What I hope is there might be some cross-pollination between the two tracks.

But I’m very old. And, yet, if you get a few drinks in me I can be quite entertaining at a cocktail party and I’ve seen LA LA Land enough times to delude myself into thinking maybe, just maybe, if I just show up in LA that I can somehow, somewhere get invited to a cocktail party and have someone of note notice me.

And, yet, this won’t work unless I have more than one screenplay already written. I have three sold screenplay concepts in my head right now that I just have to map out and develop. The thinking is — if I can just finish three, I can fly to LA and see if I can work my old drunk Seoul expat scene magic. But I’m not going unless I have a few screenplays already written.

It just seems as though I might fit the metrics of Hollywood a bit better than the literary world. I can see why Twitter liberals might see me as something of a kook if they do due diligence on me via, say, the Internet Archive.

And I’m really too old — and live in the wrong part of the world — to even think about such things.

But I’m kind at the Singularity of loserdom right now, so I really don’t have much to lose at this point.

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.