Something Of A Pickle

by Shelt Garner

I’m beginning to sense a trend with prospective editors of my first novel — they’re just not interested.

This is curious because my little group of friends and relatives who are reading the latest iteration of the novel don’t, at least, hate it. They’re at least willing to humor me enough to keep reading, hopefully to its conclusion.

Now, this difference is beginning to fill me with a lot of navel gazing and angst. What is going on?

Well, one theory I have is the story is, in fact, “racy” and the liberal white women that I keep talking to about editing the novel can’t stand how “racy” it is, especially in the context of me being a smelly CISgendered white male. I suppose it doesn’t help anything that I am drawn to cute young women to work with as my editor. Maybe a dude wouldn’t be so touchy about a lot of sex in a novel?

For me, the key issue is that I have, at last, finished a novel that tells a coherent story. So, in that sense, I have succeeded in what I set out to do a number of years ago. What’s more, I now know how *I* develop and write a novel.

So, one idea I have is to keep searching for someone to edit the novel but with the understanding that this novel could very well never be published. As such, I am feeling a lot of pressure to throw myself into the scifi novel I’ve come up with.

It’s built from the ground up to be as marketable as possible and in my mind, at least, has a minimal amount of sex in it. With that in mind, I’ve begun to recalculate in my mind the chronology of events going forward. I have to prepare myself for the possibility that it won’t be until about a year from now before I begin to query the scifi novel because, well, lulz, cute, young liberal white women don’t like all the “racy” sex in my first novel.

And, of course, all of this is happening in the context of the potential collapse of Western Civilization starting in late 2024, early 2025 because of fucking Donald Trump. But I can just stare at the ceiling for months and months to see what is going to happen on that front.

I have to press forward.

Of ‘Woke’

by Shelt Garner

Because we live in an age devoid of nuance, it’s really difficult to pin down exactly what being “woke” means. It seems to me the whole notion of “wokeness” is more about the *fear* of being “canceled” by the “woke cancel culture mob” than it means something concrete.

And to figure out who is “woke” and why, requires one to juggle a few different causes in one’s mind at once.

One issue that has prompted the debate over “wokeness” is social media. Social media allows the most extreme points of view to dominate the discussion of any subject. Meanwhile, it is clear that a lot of GenZ people honestly do have different cultural tastes than their older peers.

As such, social media causes the most sensitive of GenZ people to put the fear of God into older people who fear being “canceled” for the slip of the tongue or something similar. I can tell you from my own life that I know people who are on a hair trigger for the possibility that their life will be ruined because they’re recorded by someone saying something that “doesn’t fit the media narrative.”

But again, all of this is very murky.

It is interesting than comics are often the ones who bitch and moan the most about the “woke cancel culture mob.” I think that may say more about older comics not understanding the comedy tastes of GenZ than it does there being some sort of raging band of woke people who scour the earth for people to cancel.

The more I think about it, the more I struggle to understand it all. I’m a loudmouth crank at times and I have, indeed, been attacked by people on my Left who are extremely touchy about the usual “woke” things. But these incidents are actually few and far between — but they leave a mark because of how fucking annoying they are.

But wait, there’s more.

Because MAGA Republicans, by nature, work only in bad faith, they have latched onto the idea of “wokeness” as a catch all for anything that they disagree with. To the point that they don’t even know what it is they think “being woke” actually means.

If pressed, I would say “woke” is a form of cultural Leftism that is has a sometimes absurd orthodoxy that is hypersensitive. Or something. It’s one of those “I know it when I see it” type of things. I don’t feel comfortable getting into too much detail about such things because, well, “woke people” might get angry at me. (Which kind of proves my point about the fear of being canceled is more powerful than anything “woke” people might actually be able to do.)

But I also think it’s a very, very small number of people who qualify as “being woke.”

But because of the bad faith arguments of MAGA Republicans and the nature of social media, that tiny minority of “woke” people has a huge amount of influence on the cultural as a whole. It all boils down to the FEAR of being “canceled” by the “woke cancel culture mob,” even if pretty much most of the “canceling” that happens is just regular old accountability.

So, in some sense, the fear of the “woke cancel culture mob” that a lot of older people have is simply the generation gap. They just don’t understand younger people and they have a wistful anger towards people they feel should know better.

Anyway. I’m sure I’ll get canceled one day.

Now To Finish This Damn Novel

by Shelt Garner

I’ve finally reached the point where all I have to do is finish the latest iteration of the third draft. I think once I finish this latest version of the third draft that I have one more version to go before I feel as though it’s “finished.”

Once I reach that point, then I going to turn the novel over to someone I know who has offered to go through the third draft and give me detailed suggestions on each scene in the novel. My hope is that doing this will be a way that I can have some sort of developmental editing of the story.

It just doesn’t seem like I’m going to be able to afford *any* editor of the novel before I begin to query it. Or, to put it another way — it would take me over a year to save up the money to do such a thing and I’m not getting any younger.

As such, I will probably begin the querying process for the novel at some point after the July 22nd deadline. It may be as late as August or September, but it will definitely begin this year.

Of course, in the back of my mind there is the lingering fear that all hell may break loose this fall. There is a greater-than-zero chance that the United States, the greatest nation in the world, may collapse into the anarchy of revolution or civil war in late 2024, early 2025 because of “vibes.”

Only time will tell. It would definitely be poetic if that was the endgame of all my hard work on this novel over the years — everything works out but the end of the world happens.

Pondering The Querying Process

What The Fuck Am I Going To Do About An Editor?

by Shelt Garner

In an ideal world, I pay an editor to look over my first novel before I started to query it. But I live in poverty — no joke! — and, as such, it would probably take me around a year to save up the money to pay for a traditional editor.


I have a friend of mine who has expressed an interest in going through and reading the third draft once I’m done. This is a hopeful development, but I’m still uneasy about not using a professional editor to make sure the novel is up to snuff before I try to query it.

My big fear is, of course, that even if I could afford a professional editor that the one-two punch of me being a well-documented freaky weirdo AND how “spicy” the novel is will turn off anyone actually willing to help me.


But I have my vision for the novel and I’m sticking to it. I have to accept that either the novel may never be published or, if it is, it’s only published because of the success of the scifi novel that I’m beginning to work on currently.

I’m cool with those possibilities.

The point of all of this was to prove to MYSELF that I could write a novel that wouldn’t embarrass me. I feel, in general, that I’m just about to accomplish that goal.

What happens after that is going to depend on luck and pluck.

Contemplating The Looming Querying Process

by Shelt Garner

While I still have the entire second half of the latest iteration of the third draft to make a pass through, it is beginning to sink in that I’ve just about entered the post-production part of my journey towards publication.

The fact that many, many, many people languish in the querying process for years and years gives me pause for thought. I’m not getting any younger and it could be that either I drop dead before I get published or I’m so old that it’s just kind of poignant and sad. I keep searching my mind for ways I could potentially make the novel better. But at this point, the issue is simply rewriting scenes that maybe haven’t been updated in ages.

At the forefront of my mind is how “spicy” the novel is. This element of the novel comes about in large part because of one plot point — my heroine is a partime sex worker (stripper) during course of the novel. She owns a strip club and on someting of a lark, decides to go back to stripping for the holidays.

I hope that I have written a novel that is as popular and an accessible as Stieg Larsson’s The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo.

This really helps the novel be better — at least in my opinion — because it makes it edgy, and interesting in an unexpected way. I’ve never seen stripping depicted in the way I do in popular fiction.


There is a problem of the “woke cancel culture mob” that hates heterosexual sex (apparently) and hates CIS white men doing anything — especially writing from a female POV. (I’m being rather droll in even mentioning this.) There are no easy solutions to this particular problem — I have realized what my vision is for this novel is and that’s what I’m going with.

It doesn’t help — I say this with a wink — that many literary agents are white liberal women. I have nothing against white liberal women, I just think the phrase is amusing and I can’t help myself and bring it up a lot as something of a running gag. (Of course, my use of the term isn’t going to help me any when literary agents start to do due diligence on me.)

What I need is an honest third party evaluation of the novel to get some sense of how the sex worker angle of the novel will play with an audience. I have no friends and no one likes me, so my ability to get that kind of input is limited or nonexistent — at least for free.

All my regular readers know me personally. I need someone who reads a lot who is willing to be firm — but fair — about what I’ve come up with. I suppose what I’m saying is I need a manuscript editor of some sort. But those don’t come cheap.

But I even I have to admit that I’ve pretty much reached the goal I started towards several years ago — writing a novel that doesn’t embarrass me. What happens next is anyone’s guess.

These Novel Writing Projects Are Existential

by Shelt Garner

It is becoming more and more clear to me that I could be nearly 60 years old before I become a published author — if that even ever happens. What’s more, it’s also clear that there is a pretty good chance that if the Petite Singularity doesn’t make all my hard work moot, that some sort of severe political crisis starting in late 2024, early 2025 might just do the trick.

My dream is that my “passion project” main novel is as accessible and popular as Stieg Larsson’s The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo.

And, yet, here I am determined to keep going with two different novels that I’m working on.

The key thing is that I manage my expectations. I’ve decided on an existential basis that I’m willing to use what little time I have left on this planet to at least TRY to become a published author, problems and obstacles be damned. I have a huge chip on my shoulder about my writing ability and I want to the validation of getting the approval of literary gatekeepers.

Having said all that, I am really working on my backup scifi novel. The main novel, the “passion project” has problems because its heroine is a part time stripper at club that she owns. I am WELL AWARE of how problematic this may be to younger people — especially women — but I really like how unique and unexpected this part of my heroine’s personality is and so, lulz, fuck it.

Meanwhile, the backup scifi novel is built from the ground up to be as marketable as possible. That’s the goal, at least.

In an ideal world, one of the two novels will sell and I could use the popularity of one novel to get the other novel published. But I have my doubts about if such a cross-pollination of success is possible, given that the two novels are of such different genres.

Anyway. I am pleased with what I’ve come up with and the goal is to wrap up a final third draft of the “passion project” novel no later that around July 22.

The Curious Case Of The ‘Woke Cancel Culture Mob’

by Shelt Garner

Two interesting things happened that gave me pause for thought. One was Bill Maher laid out a view some of the issues surrounding the “woke cancel culture mob” that I could not dismiss out of hand. It was nuanced and at first glance at least, seemed to expound upon a view that pretty much fit what any reasonable person might think about the subject.


Meanwhile, just in the last few days, Jerry Seinfeld said that he thought that comedy had been chilled a great deal by “woke” people being too easily offended.

These two things have given me pause for thought because I find myself wondering if my views on these subjects are out of step with the “media narrative” and will, as such, cause me to get “canceled” if I ever blow up with my novel money.

I don’t know why I even worry about such things because selling my novel and having any success of note will be like winning the lottery. But, lulz.

It all gets worse when you consider that I have seen a number of people on Twitter get their panties all in a bunch over Seinfeld’s comments. I do believe there is some merit to what he had to say and it doesn’t just stop with comedy. For some reason, the “woke cancel culture mob” also has an extremely puritanical view of heterosexual sex in the arts.

Anyway, I try to be as moderate and empathetic as possible. It would help a great deal if there was nuance in public discourse, but alas, that’s just not how things are these days. Everything is yes / no, black / white and people can get pretty worked up if you don’t adhere to the orthodoxy.

Mistakes We Knew We Were Making

by Shelt Garner

The predicament I find myself in with my first novel is a prime example of what happens when you don’t have anyone around you to tell you “no.” The story I’ve come up with is compelling and intriguing enough — if you give it a chance — that you’ll finish it wanting more.


But there are a few problems.

The most obvious one is, well, I’ve realized that it has a lot of “spicy” scenes in it because it deals with a woman who not only owns a strip club, but for the duration of the story, also, on occasion, is depicted stripping. If I had a wife or a girlfriend as a “Reader” there is a good chance she would put the kibosh on that particular element of the story.

It’s just too easy for the mythical “liberal white women” or the “woke cancel culture mob” to blanch at such a storyline, especially one written by a man. If I was an twentysomething undocumented trans woman then that would be a different story. (There you go, I’ve put all three of my running gags into one paragraph to trigger you when you do your due diligence on me.)

There are a few other problems with the nature of my first novel that are structural and existential so, lulz, I just have to accept them going forward. I really love this novel and the characters I’ve come up with and, I suppose, in the end, if nothing else, I’m the audience of the novel and as such am willing to expend the time and energy necessary to finish it.

I am WELL AWARE that if you don’t know me and you read this blog you will probably want nothing to do with me. Ok, I get it. So, in a sense, this blog is like online dating for me — absolutely no one will swipe right on me online, but if I was given the opportunity to use my “rizz” on you in real life, then maybe you might give me a date.

The last few days have been full of self-doubt about this novel. But I’ve concluded that the point of this novel is to prove a point to myself, if no one else. I know I’ve come up with a really good story, despite its obvious flaws, and I’m going to see this project to its completion.

Having said all that, I am still going to pivot — when I have some time — to a backup scifi novel that will be tailored specifically with marketability in mind. I need that type of insurance policy to give me the juice necessary to move forward with the main novel. I don’t like the idea of putting all my creative eggs in one basket.

Feeling Better About The Novel

by Shelt Garner

A number of things have come together that give me renewed confidence with the third draft of the novel I’m working on. The last few days, since an editor I was hoping to work with begged off after they read this blog, I have been feeling a great deal of existential angst.

But things have changed for the better.

I feel a lot better. One thing that happened is a random woman I gave the first three chapters of the novel to read it and didn’t say she hated it. In fact, she said, “keep writing.” That makes me feel a lot better. I was really sweating it there for a little while because I gave it to her and she had not emailed me back any reaction.

Another is, I was reminded yet again that just because ONE person thinks I’m too much of a freaky weirdo to work with, doesn’t mean that it’s totally impossible for me to find someone, somewhere who will find my kookiness endearing.

Or something. Something like that. I just can hinge everything on rejection from one person — even if I fear she does give me some sense of what “liberal white women” might think of the premise of the novel. As I’ve said before, I got no beef with liberal white women, I just see it as something of a running gag.

Anyway. With all that in mind, I’m going to throw myself back into writing the novel. *I* really like the story I’ve come up with, even if some members of the woke cancel culture mob (wink) might be aghast that my heroine is a part-time stripper. Ok, I get it. But I do think that if you give the story a chance — which I know is, unto itself, a big ask — that you will enjoy it.

Having said all that, I am really going to work hard to use some of my spare time to develop the backup scifi novel that I have been working on some. It’s really cool and I just don’t feel comfortable putting ALL my creative eggs in the lone basket of the main novel.

I’m not getting any younger.

But the key thing remains — I have to prepare myself for rejection –a lot of it — as I get closer to the querying process.