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.

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.

I’m….Almost Done With My First Novel?

by Shelt Garner

I have been going through an iteration of the third draft of my first novel at a pretty nice clip. I will probably wrap up SOMETHING pretty soon. It may take a little bit longer than expected because the second half of the novel is not as polished as the first half, but, in general, I am on track to having a “finished” first novel no later than July 22, 2024.

I hope my first novel is as compelling and accessible as Stieg Larsson’s The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo.

The old adage is that all novels are never finished, only abandoned and I understand what it meant by this — this novel is never going to be perfect. There’s always going to be a scene that I feel could be better worded or structured.

But, in general, I’m really pleased with what I’ve come up with.

I have a lingering concern that the novel may be too “racy” for the woke cancel culture mob, but I have settled on a vision for this novel and, as such, my heroine is a part-time sex worker (stripper) during the course of the events of the novel.

I understand how that element of the novel could be…controversial…but it really helps to not only add an unexpected element to the novel, but to flesh things out in general. The sex worker element of the story adds conflict and tension that would otherwise not be there.

But the potential problems with this element of the story has prompted me to really plunge into the backup scifi novel concept I’ve been thinking about. In fact, all I have to do before I start writing the first draft of the novel is sit down and do some character studies.

It is very possible that I will begin the querying process for the main novel in a few months. I have to admit I’m at a loss as to what I’m going to do about that. And, of course, there’s a chance that just as I’m trying to query my first novel, all hell will break loose as The Fourth Turning / The Petite Singularity happen starting in late 2024, early 2025.

But who knows. I can’t predict the future. Anything might happen. And I have to accept that successfully querying my first novel will be like winning the creative lottery. And, yet, the whole point of writing a novel to begin with was to have something bigger than myself to think about.

Of ‘BlueSky’

by Shelt Garner

One of the most annoying aspects of the Trump Era is how radicalized both the Far Right and Far Left have become. What’s worse, all of this is happening in the context of the center simply not existing — you have to pick a side, one way or another.

Anyone who claims to be a “centrist” is a fool. They are, by default, tacitly siding with MAGA because MAGA exploits any time someone refuses to pick a side.

But wait, it gets worse.

Because of the nature of modern politics in America, once you do pick a side, you are forced to defend the dumbest, most radical positions of your side. With all that in mind, let’s address what I’ve experienced on the Twitter clone Bluesky.

Up until recently, the service just seemed like an updated version of the very inward looking WELL service of the 1990s. It was at first invite only and once I got access to it, it seemed very much a place for exiled smug Twitter liberals to sit around and smell their own farts.

But all of that has changed since the start of the war in Gaza. Now, the service is dominated by Far Left radicals who freak the fuck out if you, in any way, quibble with their orthodoxy. They get really mad!

They get so mad that it’s kind of a surreal caricature of what conservatives think anyone who disagrees with them are like. I sometimes feel like I have a better understanding of why MAGA people double and triple down on their fascism whenever anyone calls them out on it.

I recently got into an argument about a comment I made about how part of democracy is the marketplace of ideas where everyone yells at each other until we collectively come to some consensus about what direction the country will take.

When I refused to say what views I might have that don’t fit the Leftist orthodoxy might be, THAT caused heated debate. The more I thought about this particular issue, the more I realized it would be wise to just refuse to be pinned down.

The point is — once you get into that type of argument, the whole thing becomes a no-win situation. It’s a trap. It’s like when a wife asks her husband if her new outfit makes her “look fat.” If you’ve gotten to that point, you’re screwed. There just is no way to admit to something that doesn’t fit the Leftist orthodoxy without THAT being the thing you get yelled at, not the issue that first introduced the subject in the first place.

So. I don’t know. I will continue to use BlueSky, but I’m on a hair trigger when it comes to anything I might believe that might upset the Far Left.

The Death of Discourse?

by Shelt Garner

One of many alarming signs of the decline and fall of the Second American Republic is how the discourse on — pick a subject — has become a blood sport. Just staking out An Opinion on ANYTHING is enough to rile people up.

But let me be more specific — not to sound too Red Pilled, there is a Media Narrative that exists about the world around us. If you have the temerity to believe ANYTHING that doesn’t adhere to that orthodoxy, there is hell to pay.

This most comes into play on subjects like trans rights and anything to do with the culture wars in general. The orthodoxy on trans rights is often so murky and fluid that you don’t even know what it is unless you are Very Online.

Meanwhile, in all my years of life, I’ve never seen anything as controversial as the current war in Gaza. Twitter Leftists have such an absolute orthodoxy that you have to absolutely adhere to that it can really make your head spin. What’s worse, that orthodoxy makes absolutely no sense.

They are so absolute in their views that they apparently would rather have a second Trump term than compromise for the sake of democracy. It’s crazy. Totally and completely bonkers.

I’m reminded of what I’ve read about the corrosive politics found in Weimar Germany right before the Nazis took over. I fear that should MAGA take over again that there will be whole chapters of some future American history book devoted to how fucked up the politics of 2024 were.

Anyway. Good luck, folks. You’ll need it.

The Political Nihilism Of Twitter Leftists

by Shelt Garner

Twitter Leftists have radicalized in just the last 24 hours, since the student protests in New York City were crushed by the NYPD. I understand their anger. But some of the rhetoric that Twitter Leftists have generated in the last day or so is rather overwrought.

They clearly want something that is simply not possible given the metrics of current geopolitics — Biden to embrace their most radical positions in regards to the war in Gaza. This is just not going to happen. And I understand that Twitter Leftists are so frustrated that they suddenly have begun to proclaim that they would rather Trump be president.

But this is political nihilism in the extreme. They are so frustrated that they can’t get what they want, that they have decided to burn everything down. This is a not great, Bob, type situation because we already have the Far Right wanting the same thing.

The idea that anyone — especially a Leftist — would want Trump to be president for any reason boggles my mind. Any Leftist who advocates such a thing clearly has not thought this through. That is the politics of spite.

But, here we are, with a small — but vocal — group of Twitter users bitching and moaning about something that Biden doesn’t even have any control over: the actions of the NYPD.

Jerry Seinfeld & The Fate Of Comedy

by Shelt Garner

I try to be as moderate and empathetic as possible. But sometimes the “woke cancel culture mob” really gets on my fucking nerves. Take, for instance, what’s going on with Jerry Seinfeld and his belief that people being “woke” has caused the demise of comedy.

There is so much wrong with the reaction to this comment — on both sides.

The MAGA Right has glommed onto his observations as a way to confirm their priors. They believe that they can “own the libs” by screaming at the top of their lungs that what they believe HAS to be Right because “even Seinfeld” agrees with us.

Meanwhile, the “woke cancel culture mob” is just as bad. They really are so touchy that they can’t take even the smallest amount of criticism. They are doing everything in their power on social media to “recon” away how Seinfeld is one of the greatest comics of the last 30 odd years.

Now, as for what Seinfeld believes — I don’t know what the truth is. I suspect he has something of a point, but I also think that the economics of comedy have changed drastically in the last few decades to the point that the comedies of the 1970s, 80s and 90s just aren’t economically viable anymore.

Just the advent of streaming itself is enough to throw things out of whack.

I guess I’m just annoyed at how polarized the American political system is. We can’t come to any agreement about anything — not even the fate of comedy — and it is really aggravating.