Things Are Moving Along At A Nice Clip With The Third Draft Of My First Novel

by Shelt Garner

I spent all morning writing out scenes and I hope — hope — to throw myself into similar writing this afternoon. It definitely seems that, barring something I can’t predict, that I am still on track to wrap up the third draft of this novel no later than July 22 — the 20th anniversary of my first trek to Asia in 2004.

Barfly makes good.

I’m really leaning into character with this latest attempt at a third draft. And, what’s more, I’m really smoothing out the rough edges of the plot. Scenes no longer can be moved around without regard for where they are in the outline. That comes from how stable — in general — the plot of the novel is at the moment.

All of this is happening in the context of me continuing to worry about what the fucking “woke cancel culture mob” will think of me, a smelly CIS white male, writing from a female POV. I TRY to be as empathic as possible and to make it clear that I “get it” when it comes to what women may experience. And, yet, I could be fucking Darren Star and there will be young women on Tik-Tok who simply can not accept that a middle aged dude like me can possibly write from a female POV.

Ugh. Woke people.

But, slings and arrows, as they say.

I just want to tell a great yarn and it just so happened that the story I want to tell involves me writing scenes from a female POV. When I started this project, I simply followed what Stieg Larsson did. I had no idea that it would be such a fucking big deal that I might write from the POV of a woman. Had I known that it was even an issue, I probably would have constructed the novel differently.

And, yet, lulz. I want this novel to be an old brown shoe for people who have read the original Millennium novels written by Larsson while he was alive, so there you go.

I hope my novel will appeal to readers who liked The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo.

Having said all that, I am really pleased with how this novel is shaping up. It definitely may be too long — which is a real problem — but the story is coherent, cohesive and cogent. It tells a story that is engaging enough that maybe a few people — who don’t even know me! — will feel enough interest to actually finish the damn thing.

Never Meet Your Heroes

by Shelt Garner

Marc Andreessen changed my life. And, but for the hard wiring of my synapsis, could have made me a billionaire. “I was there,” as the song goes, in the early days of the Web when the first web browser Mosaic, that he designed, was released. I was in college and I immediately realized the potential of this new technology.

If I had a different type brain, I probably would have become a programmer and made my billions in some Web startup as part of the general dotcom boom of the mid-to-late-90s. But, alas, I’m a big old doofus and just know how to write and take pictures.


Why do I bring all of this up?

Well, Andreessen implied tonight on Twitter that the “woke cancel culture mob” is analogous to the excesses of the Chinese Cultural Revolution. There is so much to unpack there.

First, it’s clear that Andreesen has turned into one of those Red Pilled fascist tech bros who would are obsessed with the culture wars to the point that they would give up their American birthright of democracy in exchange for low-to-no-taxes.


Having said that, let’s look close at what he suggests — does he have a point?

Hmmm. This is an interesting question. The issue is, social media has made the weaponization of shaming on a mass scale for the stupidest shit really easy. And, yet, Andreesen is being an asshole to suggest that the “woke cancel culture mob” can be equated with the weird, fucked up shit of the Cultural Revolution.

The two are just not the same.

Oh no, something woke!

The worst that happens to someone who is “canceled” for having views that don’t fit the media narrative is…they become a talking head on Fox News as a martyr to the cause? And sometimes, they face NO accountability other than they don’t get to go to the cool cocktail parties at Martha’s Vineyard anymore. It’s not like the “woke cancel culture mob” is killing people in public.

Now, this is the point where I say I am WELL AWARE of how suspectable I, personally, am to be “canceled” should, for some reason, I blow up with my novel money and become any sort of prominent public cultural figure. I have done plenty — PLENTY — of things over the years in my drunken dissipation that might get me canceled.

And, what’s more, I’m writing a novel that may never get published because I write about things in a way that the “woke cancel culture mob” may blanch at.


But I still think Andreessen is being a dick. He wants to score culture war points by muddling and conflating things that might SEEM similar, but upon any sort of nuanced reflection definitely aren’t.

I May Rile Up Woke People With This Novel Because I’m A Smelly CIS White Male Writing About A Romantic Relationship Between Two Women

by Shelt Garner

Oh boy. This is an instance where being a smelly CIS white male isn’t exactly the most helpful. I have come up with a really interesting plot point for this novel — a woman who doesn’t see herself as gay having a torrid relationship with a young woman who is a free spirit — and every once in a while I do a gut check and worry the “woke cancel culture mob” will freak the fuck out that I’ve done such a thing.

I hope to write a novel as interesting as The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo.

This particular element of the story is fun and provides a lot of comic relief to the story and also keeps the story going at a fast clip. And, yet, I’m not a 20something undocumented transgender woman writing about such things, but a smelly middle-aged MAN.

But, lulz, I never what I’m supposed to do and this is where the Muse has taken me for this novel and I guess I’m stuck with it.

At least I’m really, really self-conscious about what I’ve gotten myself into. I understand why me writing about lesbian stuff from a female POV as a smelly CIS white male might be….a problem. The way some young women talk on Tik-Tok, I have no right to exist as a human being, much less as an aspiring male author who occasionally writes from a female POV.

I wish I had a wife or a girlfriend to be my Reader. Then, at least, I would have woman to tell me when maybe I have taken things too far, even if you give me the benefit of the doubt. And, yet, Stieg Larsson wrote some pretty crazy shit in his novels and they were a success.

I Continue To Develop & Write This Novel In A Vacuum

by Shelt Garner

There is a lot I just don’t know as I careening towards wrapping up the alpha release of the third draft of my first novel. I don’t quite know what I’m going to “comp” this novel to because it’s not a traditional murder-mystery thriller.

I hope to write a heroine as intriguing as Lisbeth Salander.

But there are also some more nuts-and-bolts things I don’t know.

Are my chapters too long? One of my quasi-beta readers complained that my that was the case. He wanted the chapters to convey less information. I have spent a lot — A LOT — of time figuring out when my chapters end and begin and the idea that that would be thrown is….oh boy.

Meanwhile, I just don’t know what women will think of a smelly CIS white male writing a tale about a part-time stripper obsessed with owning a community newspaper. You could say that the story is sufficiently unique people will like the idea, while at the same time you could say that, by definition, women will hate the idea of a smelly CIS white male writing, well, anything from a female POV.

And I don’t care for the Bechdel Test….OH MY GOD.

I am completely clueless. What I don’t know, I guess, is how much of such technical issues can be just sorted out in post-production, pre-publication. So, maybe I’m thinking too much about the situation. Or not. I just don’t know.

Yeah I Fucking Hate The Bechdel Test

by Shelt Garner

I noticed in my Webstats that someone made a bee-line to my rant about my hatred of the Bechdel Test, so I thought I would write another post to make it even more clear: I fucking hate the Bechdel Test.

And here’s why — the point of any story is to entertain the audience, to tell a great yarn.

It should not matter if you pass this or that cultural or political test beyond that. Now, if I happen to past the dumb Bechdel Test, I will be the first to crow about it. But I’m not going to go out of my way to pass it because I’m going to be too busy struggling to tell the best damn story I possibly can.

The fact that the Bechdel Test is considered by its creator to be a “half-joke” doesn’t make things any better. So, you mean to tell me, that I have to contort my novel in such a way that two women talk about something other than a man…because of a fucking half joke in a comic strip?

Now that’s a form of “woke” that makes my blood boil and gets me ranting — and I’m not even drunk!

Will The Mythical ‘Woke Park Slope Moms’ Like My Novel?

by Shelt Garner

Now, let me be clear — I have always been making a joke about “woke Park Slope moms” whenever I mentioned them as an audience for this novel. And, the more I think about it, the more I realize I’ve failed even if I was being serious — this novel is shaping up to be a trashy, somewhat pulpy page turner with a lot of spicy scenes and a curious premise: a part-time stripper’s obsession with owning a community newspaper.

A building in the Park Slope area of NYC.

I think if this novel is popular among “woke Park Slope moms” it will be popular for the very reason why it’s not “woke” — it has a lot of spicy scenes. The downside, of course, is that I’m a smelly CIS white male writing those spicy scenes, sometimes from a female POV.

But these are wine moms we’re talking about, so it’s at least possible that the same dynamic that made 50 Shades of Gray a big hit might be in play when it comes to this novel. I really like what I’ve come up with. This novel is colorful, different and interesting — just like me.

A lot will depend on marketing of this novel once I somehow, magically, manage to get an agent and then sell it. I really want this novel to be an old brown shoe to people who read the Stieg Larsson novel’s 20 years ago. If I can tap into that same audience, then, well, we’re cooking with gas.

It will be interesting to see what happens, of course.

I’m At A Loss As To What I’m Going To Do About Querying My First Novel

by Shelt Garner

I’m well on my way to finishing the third draft of my first novel. The novel will tell a coherent, cohesive story. It’s not the story I thought I was going to tell when I started this process a few years ago — but it tells a story. And, what’s more, it ques up a number of successor novels in the same universe that will be really compelling.

The heroine of my novel looks like Morena Baccarin.

At least, that’s what I believe.

I am soon going to wrap up the “actively delusional” part of this journey and enter the world of reality where I have to convince liberal white women who make up the majority of literary agents that I can tell a good story about a part-time sex worker who is trying to buy a community newspaper.

At least I can explain the story a lot easier than before. It used to be that the story was a lot more muddled and difficult to explain. Now, I understand what the story is about.

But there are A LOT of problems.

Like, what novel do I “comp” this novel to? What genre is this novel, since the murder doesn’t happen until well into the second half of the story. I just don’t know. And, when you add how bitter people seem to become whenever they enter into the land of querying, well, lulz, oh boy.

My heroine sports a sleeve tattoo similar to the one that Megan Fox now has, even though I came up with the idea first.

I’m going to have to shift gears bigtime once I finish the novel and start to query seriously. So much so, that I don’t even know if I can continue to write, even though I know I have to. Querying is a job and struggle unto itself, it seems.

But I do have a number of other stories I want to work on while I query the first novel. And I hope to have the second novel in the series I’m working on — one that is a traditional murder-mystery-thriller done pretty soon as well. It will have most of all of the same characters as the first novel and a few new ones.

It will definitely be interesting to see how things work out. I’m sure I’m going to make many, many, many, many mistakes and probably have already made a lot by just being me.

Tech Bros Picking On Gemini Are Really Beginning To Get On My Nerves

by Shelt Garner

There are PLENTY of VALID reasons for tech people to be angry with the output of Google’s Gemini. But, sometimes, they think up the most asinine things just to prove a point — they want the right to be hateful for no damn reason.

Why is it so important to tech people to have the ability to say the n-word to save the world or to be able to generate an endless amount of Nazi propaganda? It’s very, very annoying.

And, what’s more, it will all be moot when AI is so commoditized and personalized that if you want your chatbot to say the n-word to save the world, it will. You may not be able to share all your hateful vitriol, but, lulz, you’ll at least get to be a hateful asshole to yourself.

I Think About Women Readers A Lot As I Write This Novel

by Shelt Garner

I do not purport to have any special insight into the female mind, but I do, at least, try to cater to that segment of the reading audience as I write this novel. I do this especially given the edgy, loaded nature of the novel.

I hope to write a novel that is as accessible as The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo.

It’s not every day that your heroine is a part-time stripper.

Now, of course, if I was, say a transgender women writing this type of novel, then I probably be hailed as the second coming of Jesus Christ. But, alas, I’m just a smelly CIS white male — a middle aged one at that! — and, as such, slings and arrows and all that.

I have a vision for this novel and, as such, I’m prepared to take shit for what, of course, will be reduced down to “stripper solves a murder mystery.”


That’s not what’s going on! But no one is going to listen to me. Anything to do with sex and women — especially something out of the ordinary — is the thing that people will focus on. And that doesn’t even begin to address the issue of how Hollywood would market any adaptation of the novel should that miraculous thing somehow happen.


I’m really self conscious about how women readers might react to this novel to a fault. I have a few women “advisers” that help me when I feel a little bit nervous about this or that thing that I might broach in the novel while writing from a female POV.

But, like I said, I can only do so much. I’m a smelly CIS white middle aged male and a vocal minority of the reading audience will dismiss the novel the moment they see what I look like.

Pondering The Precipice Of Querying

by Shelt Garner

Now I’m worried that deep in the bowels of the Internet aether I’ve annoyed the liberal white women that make up most of the literary agent class, even before I’ve begun to query my first novel. All I can say is — I mean well. And I’m generally a fan of liberal white women. (Even if I do sometimes use them as a class as something of a comic foil in some of my drunk political rants.)

But what I’m NOT a fan of is being attacked for being a smelly CIS white male writing from a female POV. Or being forced to debate how many of my characters can dance on the head of the Bechdel Test pin. And I am who I am. Come what may.

I don’t MEAN to annoy anyone, but I’m not going to fake who I am. And, in general, I think literary agents will find me endearing, thoughtful and interesting — if they’re willing to give me a chance.

And, yet, who knows. I still have a few more months before I finish a stable third draft of the novel. Then there will be the struggle to find — and afford — a manuscript consultant to take the novel to the next level. And all of this will be happening in the context of a Petite Singularity / Fourth Turning in late 2024, early 2025.

So….good times?