Abortion Is The Prohibition Of The 21st Century

by Shelt Garner
@sheltgarner

I’m not the first to notice that our post-Roe world is a lot like the lead up to the passage of Prohibition about a century ago. The dynamics of the two movements are very similar. In both instances, there is a whole lot of “catching the car” going on.

Now, there is one quirk to this situation. We have to figure out what we’re going to do about Trump and the push towards a MAGA-themed white Christian ethnostate. If we simply become an autocracy, then the issue of abortion will be settled for the duration — it will be illegal as will contraception.

But there is a chance that the country will implode / explode into civil war and or revolution and, as such, it won’t be until we have a winner in that epic struggle that we have some sense of what the state of reproductive rights will be. I only think there’s a *chance* of this far darker scenario because of how big and diverse the country is as well as how stupid and lazy Trump is in general.

Yet the fact remains that we’re going to go through a lot of pain and suffering no matter what over the next decade or so figuring out what is politically acceptable to the most people in the United States when it comes to the issue of abortion. A lot of women are going to suffer — and maybe die — as part of the process, but in the end, we’ll probably be just about where we were when Roe was the law of the land.

We Live In An Age Devoid Of Nuance

by Shelt Garner
@sheltgarner

Because of fucking social media, the most extreme views on both sides of the political spectrum get amplified to the point that they dominate any discussion. There are a number of pet issues of far Left that just give me a headache to even think about.

Mood.

And, yet, because of how fucked up American politics are, I have to defend them from crazed MAGA Nazis.

I give some of these more extreme issues a lot of thought. Maybe too much thought.

But, in the end, I realize I’m a one issue voter — I want to live in a traditional Western democracy.

I feel as though a lot of the weird, exotic things that the far Left clings so tightly to are not only outliers, but, in the end, they would be sorted out of we just had a functioning democracy.

That’s all I want — a functioning democracy.

But I am really growing alarmed at the extreme radicalization of the MAGA Nazi right. They are so consumed with the “vibes” that they are willing to burn everything to the ground just so they can establish the “moralistic state” where the state dictates peoples moral behavior.

And, of course, the most bonkers element to all of this is MAGA people are at the same time people who rant about how they “just want to be left alone.” But when you mention women’s reproductive rights and how women have a right to be “left alone” suddenly — SUDDENLY — they get mad and say that THAT is different.

Anyway. Everything is fucked up.

‘The Powers That Be’ Podcast Drinking Game

by Shelt Garner
@sheltgarner

One of my favorite podcasts is Puck’s The Powers That Be. But it’s pretty easy to make a drinking game out of it.

Mention of Snapchat: drink
Mention of family in Richmond, Virginia: drink
Mention of connection to Ohio: drink
Mention of a cool media party: drink
Mention of random sporting event: drink
Mention of aspirational career event: drink
Mention of The New York Times: drink
Mention of important event in host’s career: drink

Media Future Shock: The Rise of AI Agents

by Shelt Garner
@sheltgarner

I was listening to Puck’s podcast The Powers That Be today and they were talking about the personnel changes at The Daily Beast. The more I listened to what they were saying about this, the more I was struck by how outdated the very idea of a “website” may be in near future.

Just as Hollywood is about to be severely disrupted by AI software like Sora, so, too, will the media be disrupted by the rise of AI agents. I just don’t see how Websites survive as a viable media outlets when we all have a Her-like personal assistant that roams the Web for us.

What’s more these agents will know us so well that there’s a chance that they will be able to preemptively answer our questions before we ask them. And you’ll interact with these agents with your voice, which changes the whole dynamic of how you will interact with the outside world.

This leads to the question — where does this leave Websites?

I really struggle with this. I think — maybe? — that instead of Websites, we’ll have just a bunch of agents that talk to the individual agents of the million of users around the globe. Or something? Maybe the media will make money off of some sort of subscription regimen so you pay x amount of money so your AI agent can talk to the media website agent?

But the point remains — very soon the entire knowledge economy, media included, will be upended in a pretty dramatic fashion.

Pondering The Midpoint of The Treatment Of My Backup Scifi Novel

by Shelt Garner
@sheltgarner

I’ve pretty much gotten the first half of the treatment for the backup scifi novel I’m developing wrapped up. But I’m at the midpoint and, for the moment, I’m struggling as to what the “midpoint switch” will be.

I’m very pleased with the first half of the treatment. I have interesting characters and I get to talk about some weird problems in the world that I’ve come up with. But I just don’t quite know at the moment what should happen at the midpoint.

I have a number of ideas, but nothing really seems to provoke the type of thought I need. I’ve been using AI to help me develop this treatment and some of the ideas have, in general, been pretty good. But even that has only given me mixed results.

Update:
I may have come up with a midpoint switch just now using AI, but I’m not sure. The second half of this treatment is shaping up to be a lot more difficult than the first half. But I am very pleased that I have, at last, figured out how to mentally have two different creative tracks.

The Hate That Dare Not Speak Its Name

by Shelt Garner
@sheltgarner

Just from talking to my far more conservative relatives — who I love dearly — it is clear to me that the MAGA Right continues to radicalize. Nothing — not even civil war — is off the table now.

Mood.
One of the most frustrating things about debating a radical MAGA Right person is they get so bent out of shape about “the crisis at the border” that you want to confront them about what’s really going on — they’re upset about the browning of America. But you just can’t broach the subject without the conversation devolving into name calling.

I mean, what I want to say is, “you’re being a bigot.” But the moment I said such a thing, my MAGA Right interlocutor would freak the fuck out and the whole conversation would collapse. The MAGA Right person I have my conversations with simply do not see themselves as a “bigot” and on a personal basis, they aren’t.

But in the abstract, oh boy. There’s just no way you can be so upset about the type of person flooding the country without a certain level of bigotry being involved.

So, all I can do is THINK “you’re a bigot” and not say what’s on my mind. What’s more, the MAGA Right person you might be talking to would be REALLY UPSET if you called them “a bigot” because they don’t see themselves as one. But what else do you call someone who is freaks out about scary brown people flooding the border?

And, what’s more, things really go haywire when you point out that Biden TRIED to do something about the “border crisis,” only to have ding-dong Trump put the kibosh on it — to the point that he said “you can blame me” for its failure. The MAGA Right person — because they have an extensive permission structure (and don’t like the vibes) — simply ignores this statement because they’re too busy being upset about how they thing “Biden is destroying the country from within.”

So, we’re at an impasse. We collectively continue to careen towards a dark and unknown future.

Things Are Moving Fast With My Backup Scifi Novel

by Shelt Garner
@sheltgarner

Because of how “racy” my mystery-thriller is, I’ve finally decided to work on a backup novel. The novel is a scifi novel with a pandemic element to it. As I’ve said before, it’s a pretty obvious way to talk about pandemics — at least in my opinion — so I keep expecting to wake up and read in Variety or The Hollywood Reporter that a movie with the exact same premise has started production.

But I really like the idea and it gives me a sense of insurance against my main novel being too “racy’ to ever get published. I have a few other novel ideas to pivot to if disaster strikes and even the scifi novel I’m working on is somehow co-oped by someone else.

One key thing that I’ve learned working on the mystery-thriller is you have to have a proactive protagonist. Too often in the past, I’ve had very passive protagonists, which has made for a dull story. So, now that I am very aware of how important having a proactive hero is, the scifi novel concept is moving a lot faster.

At the moment, I’m just at the treatment stage for the scifi novel. But things are moving a fairly nice clip. I’m beginning to struggle with the second half of the novel at the moment. And once the treatment is done, I think the next step is to do some rough character studies so I won’t be where I am now with the main novel where I have to reverse engineer character development in a story that is pretty much all plot.

I have developed a hero for the scifi novel that resembles me, which is bad because you’re not supposed to have a “proxy you” in the novel when you write one. And, yet, at the moment the elements that are similar to me work, so, lulz, why bother fixing them.

And I’m still pretty early in the process.

I continue to worry that all of this will be moot because of the looming possibility of a “perfect storm” involving the so-called political Fourth Turning and a technological Petite Singularity.

But while there’s life, there’s hope.

Watch Out For That Last Step: Pondering The Querying Process

by Shelt Garner
@sheltgarner

I am soon going to be finished with the third draft of my first novel. As such, because I want to go the traditional publishing route, I have to begin to take seriously the querying process.

Mood.

Now, the stressful thing about this is I have no idea what to do. I only vaguely know at this point about things like “Query Tracker” and the fact that I have to write a query letter. I have been knee deep in active delusion for all the years it has taken me to write this novel and now, suddenly, the cold, dark waters of reality are beginning to rush in.

At the moment, I would like to hand over the finished third draft to an editor of some sort. It may take me months to save up the money to get someone to edit the novel. Yet that’s just the beginning.

I think I’m going to have to be really careful about this element of the querying process because I’ve already managed to screw up once. I alienated one prospective editor because I think that not only did she think I was freaky weirdo after reading this blog, but she thought I was going to be too emotionally needy.

So I need to give the idea of what I say to any prospective editor some thought. And I have to accept that there is a good chance that any editor worth their salt is going to search for me online and look at this blog and be aghast at what a freaky weirdo I am. And that doesn’t even begin to address what they might think of my Twitter feed.

This very real prospect rattles my cage a great deal. I’m not getting any younger and I would prefer to be a published author before I reach 60. Just my age itself is problematic — not to mention that I really haven’t done shit with my life in a long time. AND I’m bonkers.

And, yet, the only consolation I have is that while there’s life there’s hope. I do have to manage my expectations, though — any success with a spec novel is like winning the literary lottery.

So it’s possible that I could stick the landing and STILL either not find an agent or being in limbo for years. And that doesn’t even address the fact that late 2024, early 2025 could be some of the most momentous months in modern American history.

I don’t know what to tell you. I write because I have to, not because I want to. So I suppose I continue to be delusional, even as the looming transition into the querying process demands I be a lot more honest with myself about my prospects.

The Fate Of The United States May Rest With State Republican Parties

by Shelt Garner
@sheltgarner

On the surface, it seems as though Trump’s support is not nearly as passionate as it once was. While there continues to be a lot of sound and fury surrounding Trump, lately, that noise seems to signify nothing. It could be that many of the people who could otherwise cause trouble in the real world for Trump are in prison because of their involvement in the January 6th Insurrection.

Having said that, I continue to worry on a structural basis about the radicalization of state Republican Parties. It will be the extent of that radicalization that will determines what happens in late 2024, early 2025, regardless of the outcome of the election.

If Trump loses, he could very well flip the fuck out and start to demand a National Divorce on the self-serving grounds that he doesn’t want to go prison. If that happens, then we all have to wait and see if states like Texas begin the process of leaving the Union.

Meanwhile, the core of Trump’s support should he win will come from the radicalized infrastructure of the Republican Party. Trump will rule the country as a tyrannical Red King and he will probably leverage the institutional support of the Republican Party to consolidate power. And if Trump is somehow magically deposed because he does go full tyrant on us, it will be Republican state parties who will cause the civil war…when they leave the Union in a huff.

At the moment, I just don’t know what is going to happen. It really could go either way. There is a chance that should Trump lose that I’m really overthinking things and Trump will just rant a lot and then drift away…until he comes roaring back and tries to run again in 2028.

Speeding Up The Novel Development Process

by Shelt Garner
@sheltgarner

Now that I am zooming towards wrapping up the third draft of my first novel, I find myself wondering how I can speed up production of the next novel. I can’t spend years and years working on the next novel because I’m old and have a limited amount of time on the earth.

Mood.

As such, I think one way to speed up the development of my next novel will be to better game out what the novel’s story is. Now, at the moment, I actually have two novels I want to work on. One is the a direct sequel to my first novel while the other is a totally unrelated scifi concept.

The scifi concept is pandemic related and to me, at least, is seems like a very obvious idea for a novel. So obvious that I keep expecting to find out that someone else has already written a novel or screenplay with a similar conceit. But it hasn’t happened yet, so I’m going to go full speed ahead.

Not knowing what exactly the story I wanted to tell was one of the reasons why it took me so fucking long to get to this point with my first novel. Once I understood what the story was, everything clicked and began to move much quicker.

Of course, another problem was I have been drifting towards a general goal without realizing how much time was elapsing. My age kind of snuck up on me. But now that I’m in my 50s, I have every reason to buckle down and focus a lot harder trying to knock out novels as quickly as possible.

And none of this, of course, addresses the next stage of the process with my first novel — querying. As had already been proven, there is a good chance that anyone doing due diligence on me as part of the querying process is going to think I’m nuts and won’t want to have anything to do with me.

But while there’s life, there’s hope. I write because I have to, not because I want to. And the point of writing a novel in the first place — that of giving me a Big Project to think about rather than feeling sorry for myself.