‘Pause For Thought’

by Shelt Garner

I’ve found that pausing thinking about the novel I’m working on for a few days — no more than 2 or three — does wonders. The worst thing you can do is overheat creatively and “run hot.” It’s too easy to lose focus on what’s going on and, also, to lose your creative flexibility.

Another thing I’ve learned is there comes a point when it’s better to re-write scenes instead of move around finished ones as blocks. You can make some really dumb structural decisions because you want to avoid having to re-write a scene.

It’s hard earned advice like the above that I would put into a how-to-write-a-novel book if I ever was in a position to write such a book. But I have to finish (and sell) a novel before I can do that. Though I’m so absolutely desperate for money at the moment, that I might look into being a beta reader of some sort. The idea being, that if I’m a beta reader for other people, then maybe it will be easier for ME to find a beta reader for MY novel(s).

Anyway, I don’t know how much of a pause I’m going to actually going to undertake at the moment. Maybe more like a few hours than a few days. I just need to re-charge my batteries some, do some reading.

‘Kook Tax’

by Shelt Garner

One of the things they tell you when you’re growing up is to “be yourself.” And, yet, here I am facing something of a paradox. On one hand, the only way to get literary types to take me seriously is to produce a quality novel. But to produce a quality novel I feel as though I need some help from…literary types.

That’s probably been one of the most aggravating aspects of developing and writing these novels — literary consultants are surprisingly judgmental. You would think given how weird creative people are, they would be a bit more accepting of weirdos like me.

How all of this usually happens is they look me up on the Internet, look at this Website and are taken aback by how weird they think I am. It’s something of a “Kook Tax” as I call it. You sometimes, you have to take the L. Sometimes, you have to just accept that “normal” people with stable lives and relationships and jobs just are unwilling or unable to accept you for who you are.

All I can say is, I can’t help who I am. I’m “different” and I’ve been “different” my entire life. When it comes to creative, if you can overcome the Kook Tax, then you’ve accomplished even more than than you might have otherwise if you were normal.

It’s not like I can change anything about it one way or another.

The Curious Case Of Celebrities & Internet Culture

by Shelt Garner

I’ve written about this before, but I’m bored and tipsy and I find the subject fascinating. What interests me is celebrity interaction with people who write (or whatever) about them online.

My general assumption is celebrities are too busy doing “dope shit” in the real world to worry about what any one person is saying about them online. However, as I’ve written before, I suspect there is a spectrum of celebrity awareness.

On one end there are celebrities who are so famous and so busy with having a Real World Life that they have no idea what any particular random blogger or Twitter user might be saying about them. They have people for that, as they say. Meanwhile, on the other end of the spectrum are those celebrities who are — no matter how big they are — so insecure that they troll Twitter using burner accounts, etc.

I really am a nobody. I may be pretty interesting, but I’m living in oblivion and there’s no reason any celebrity would have any interest in me whatsoever. The only notable exception to this general living-in-oblivion happened when I was living in Seoul.

I’ve written about all of this before, but, in general what happened is way back when, in the Before Times, I had a strange affinity for picking on the then-New York Times reporter Jennifer 8. Lee and her strange byline. Now, being much older, I doubt I would care at all that she went by “8.” as a middle name. So what.

Jennifer 8. Lee

But this was a different era of the Internet and I was in Seoul, so when she visited South Korea while working on a book, I find myself having dinner with she and her friend Tomoko. (Who worked for the Asian Wall Street Journal, if remember correctly.)

The thing about Tomoko is she was a stereotypical Blue Check Liberal (well before those were a thing) to the point that she, right in front of me, went on at great length about how people who taught English in South Korea (that would be me) were, essentially the fucking scum of the Earth. I don’t think it registered at the time to her what she was saying and who she was saying it to.

But, lulz.

Anyway, I’m much older and much wiser now. It takes a lot to get me excited when it comes to celebrities. I check my Webstats obsessively and occasionally I’ll write some random thing about this or that celebrity and someone from NYC or LA will look at it and I pause and wonder if it’s someone connected to the celebrity I wrote about.

Now that I’m older, I’m very blasé about catching the attention of a celebrity. I just don’t care. Live long and prosper, guys. One day I believe — in my heart at least, that I’m going to be a celebrity.

You never know. It could happen. I am writing a novel, you know.

I Honestly Have No Idea If This Novel Is Any Good

by Shelt Garner

I’ve been working on this novel so long and I have no one to be my “reader” that I honestly am at a loss as to how good it is. I’ve pretty much decided that I’m going to finish the whole thing again before I start thinking about paying someone to read it.

Though, that’s not entirely true.

If I could find the right person to read a few chapters of this version of the novel, I probably would show it to them. But it’s not an urgent situation at the moment. I’m fine with not only waiting until this version is done, but waiting until I feel confident that this is an actual second draft.

I really enjoy the story — and the universe — I’ve come up with. I have a lot of room to grow. But, like I said, I’m doing all of this in such a vacuum I honestly don’t know how good the writing itself is. But all of that will come.

The point is to finish something, anything before I drop dead.

Why I’m So Paranoid About Someone ‘Stealing’ My Novel Concept

by Shelt Garner

First, in a sense, I find the notion that someone is going to “steal” someone else’s novel concept a bit dubious. While I know it probably happens all the time, such creative theft is problem because of a specific set of ad hoc circumstances.

The late Annie Shapiro and me, back before everything exploded in my face.

It’s not like, in other words, that there are roving bands of creative bandits searching the planet for novels and screenplays to steal. But it does happen on occasion. And I think the actual idea of someone “stealing” a concept happens a lot more with screenplays than novels.

Writing a 100,000 word novel is hard work! Writing a 120 page screenplay is hard work, too, but just having a concept when it comes to a screenplay is 50% of the hard work.

So, do I think someone is going to somehow “steal” my novel idea? It’s definitely possible, just not very probable. I’m an unknown, untested, unpublished author who believes in this novel. That doesn’t mean anyone else would believe in it as much as I do to write the same concept in different form. Though, I could totally see someone cherry-picking the best elements of the story and using those best bits as the core of a different, yet similar, story.

Given how hard it is to write a novel, I think some of the typical aspiring novelist’s fears about having their novel concept “stolen” comes from simply insecurity and not knowing what they’re doing.

But for me, specifically, my fears about having this novel “stolen” come from what happened between me and the late Annie Shapiro many moons ago in Seoul. That woman quite literally really did “steal” the magazine from me…and yet she didn’t.

I was going through a lot and just was in no mental condition to continue the magazine so I just wanted it did. In the end, however. Annie proved that she loved the magazine more than I did and (in secret!) brought it back in a way that was far better than anything I did with it. So, even to this day, I am a little nervous that someone else will do something similar to me — specifically, when it comes to the thing that is at the center of my creative life right now, the novel I’m working on.

Anyway, even if the worst happens and someone “steals” this novel from me, I have learned so much about how I, personally, develop and write a story that I after I burst into tears and sulk for a few weeks upon the news of such possible theft, I probably would figure out some other story I want to tell and go from there.

Here’s hoping that doesn’t happen, though. I really love this novel.

I’m Concerned That This Novel Isn’t As Dark Or Edgy As A Modern Thriller Should Be

by Shelt Garner

I’ve finally gotten to the point where I’m completely dispassionate and methodical with this novel. I’ve completely tapped into the obsessive elements of my personality and now I don’t even really think about working on this novel every day.

It’s still a lot of work. But the context is different than how things were in the beginning. I have a goal — finish and sell six novels before I drop dead — and I’m going about doing just that.

And, yet, at the same time, I read other people’s thrillers and I wince. My novel is interesting, but it doesn’t have the edgy energy you get right off the bat with other novels in the thriller genre.

I think some of this comes from I’m still at the point in the process where I’m struggling to get the story down. I totally revamped the story transitioning from first to second draft, to the point that if I’m honest with myself I’m back to working on a first draft.

Anyway, I suppose all of this is just continued first novel novelist insecurities and jitters. The point is to finish something, anything the punch it up until you get where you need to be.

2022’s Nadir

by Shelt Garner

We’ve officially entered the nadir of the year when disasters usually strike in a big way. Every year about this time, the entire Western world kind of grinds to a halt. The wealthy are on vacation, leaving interns to run the newsrooms of the world.

And as I write often — August sucks.

The last few days, I have been feeling a disturbance in the Force. I feel like Something Big is going to happen soon. I don’t know if this Big Thing will be personal or if it will be something that happens in the world at large. But I’m on edge. I feel like an existential sand wedgie.

As of right now, of course, it seems like this is all in my head — nothing is going to happen. And, to be honest, while I did feel a similar unease in the days leading up to breaking my ankle, I don’t believe in such things and it was just co-incidence, not any sort of premonition.

I do find myself feeling a little on edge just in general. I need to get something, anything done before I drop dead. I’m doing quite well with the first of six novels I’m developing and writing — but it takes time to do it. Time I’m growing more and more concerned that I may not have.

‘Dreaming Is Free’

by Shelt Garner

I’m not getting any younger. And, in fact, something pretty dramatic will have to happen pretty soon for me not to simply continue to drift in oblivion until I shuffle off this mortal coil.

Me, when I was a man on fire on Seoul.

But stranger things have happened, as they say.

I could sell this novel I’m working on and it become a huge success so I finally have the cash I need to make some of my many dreams come true. Or, I could fall into some cash and finally have enough to buy the photographic equipment I need to start a career in fashion photography. Or, far, far, far, far, far less likely, I could win the lottery one day. (Talk about dreaming being free!)

Anyway, in a sense, it’s just sad that I’m 20 years too old to make my dreams come true. Because I know that if you plopped me in New York City or LA that I would become quite well known pretty quick. NYC would be a lot more difficult than LA because the metrics by which success are measured are so brutal. You can’t simply schmooze your way to success in NYC like you can in LA. You need actual success, a lot of money, good looks and, in the case of being a man, a huge cock. (They called him Mr. Big for a reason, don’t you know.)

My late partner in crime while in Seoul, Annie Shapiro and me back at the height of ROKon Magazine’s success.

But the thing that for a number of years has made me very unhappy is I learned a lot about the “meta” of running a publication when I did ROKon Magazine in Seoul. I know, just know, that given any sort of opportunity that I could change the world.

This type of talk is boring now, after all these days. If I think I’m so great and wonderful, why don’t I simply save up the money to go to NYC or LA and put my theory to the test.

That, of course, is what I should do.

The first issue of ROKon Magazine.

But I suppose there are a number of different reasons why I haven’t — to date — done this. One is, I would want to land in NYC on my own terms. So, trying to be a fashion photographer in NYC is something I think I could probably pull off — but I also would want the proper equipment to do it right. Add to this that I’m 20 years too old to start any of this and I’m something of an eccentric when it comes to what I’m willing to do for money and…well, there you go.

I suppose if you were being a dick about it, you could say that all my talk about pulling of another ROKon Magazine, only in NYC or LA says more about me continuing to grieve over what happened with the magazine than any statement on my ability.

I just know that I learned so much about the meta of running of media company while in Seoul that it’s a shame that I probably will never get to use it — ever. And if that happens, it’s going to be my own damn fault.

You Can’t Edit A Blank Page

by Shelt Garner

While I’m quite pleased with where things are with the novel I’m developing and writing, I have to also admit that even at my best I’m not writing as well as my literary hero the late Stieg Larsson.

Stieg Larsson

There seems to be a lot of elements of development that he did that I simply don’t know anything about. Given that I’m approaching the same age he died at — and sold three novels — I feel like the clock is ticking. I need to dramatically improve my writing if I’m going to get this novel (and the five subsequent novels) published before I shuffle off this mortal coil.

Anyway, you can’t edit a blank page, as they say. And my personality, from what I can discern, is very different from Larsson on a number of different levels — I can’t write as dark as he did and I’m not a conspiracy theorist — but I do have my charms.

At least in my own mind.

So, once more unto the breach as they say. The key thing is I have to manage my expectations. I have to accept that for me to get through the various gatekeepers that stand between me and getting traditionally published that a fair amount of luck is involved.

But I really enjoy the process of learning how to tell a story in novel form. I can’t help that it’s taken me as long as it has to get to this point.

Of Short Stories

by Shelt Garner

When I first started working on these novels, the general consensus from a number of people in my life was, “Oh, why don’t you just write short stories instead?”

This meaning, of course, that the both thought I wasn’t up to write a novel in the first place and they didn’t want to hear about me writing a novel all the time without finished product that they could read then dismiss as bad.

Fuck those people, by the way.

Anyway, I have long said that this rather idyllic situation I have been could not last. And I was right. I’ve learned that there is potential sunset to my halcyon writing days and I have to start acting accordingly.

Now, as an aside, I need to manage my expectations with these projected 6 novels I’m developing and writing. I have want to write them because I have a story to tell, not because I think I’m going to somehow magically become rich and famous by selling them.

But if I start working on short stories it will be specifically and exclusively because I’m desperate for cash. I have a lot — A LOT — of little notions floating around in my mind and now that I know how *I* develop and write a story, it’s easy for me to use the toolkit I’ve developed over the last few years for the far smaller project of writing a short story.

Anyway, the key take away is I’m not getting any younger. I’m of an age where dying of a heart attack like Stieg Larsson is a real danger. So, throw in a sudden urgent need for ready cash and it sure would be nice to finish a short story or three and try to sell them in the near term.

Yet my main focus will continue to be these six novels I’m trying to write.