I Want To Go To NYC Sometime Soon In Honor Of My 50th Birthday

by Shelt Garner

I’m pretty much a starving artist at the moment so it definitely looks as though my upcoming 50 birthday is going to be extremely uneventful. It will come and go without any thing of note happening. I will note, however, that it was my 31st year, not my 30th that was Big for me — I went to South Korea the summer of my 31st birthday.

As such, I’m trying not to be too hard on myself for being a broke ass motherfucker. At some point this year, I’d like to take a quick trip up to New York City. What I really want to do, of course, is return to Seoul for about two weeks.

But that isn’t going to happen anytime soon.

And, yet, I do hope to return to Seoul one last time before I drop dead. There are very few expats still in Seoul from my time there, so I could pretty much jump right in and stir up trouble in the expat community without anyone realizing who they were dealing with.

The question, of course, is when that visit might happen. At the moment — I just don’t know. And, really, the world is so big that I probably shouldn’t limit myself to just visiting Seoul. But I have a very strong personal attachment to Seoul.

Ideally, I would do a round robin of East Asia, starting in Tokyo, then flying over to South Korea then finally going down to Southeast Asia before flying back home. That’s the dream, at least.

But, of course, a lot is going to have to change for such things to happen. If I managed to write a breakout first novel then, yeah, I might be able to return to Asia. For the time being, though, just being able to visit New York City again for a weekend would be pretty cool.

There remains a part of me that is idly interested in visiting not New York City or Seoul, but LA. It would be a lot of fun to see if my hunch that I have a very LA personality would pan out the way I think. I think I’m probably be willfully delusional on that front, but I am, as the late Annie Shapiro said, “a delusional jerk with a good heart.”

So, lulz.

I do have a little bit of a hunch that Something Big is going to happen to me later in life. Of course, some of that is just me being my usual delusional self, but I do know my personality and skillset well enough to know that I might manage to pull off a third “hat trick” of some sort.

Only time will tell exactly what that hat trick might ultimately be.

My Never-Ending Angst Over Being A Male Author Writing From A Female POV Using Third Person Intimate

by Shelt Garner

A certain segment of the “woke cancel culture mob” believes that, by definition, a male author writing from a female POV is illegitimate. These are the same people who believe that The Bechdel Test is an immutable law of storytelling and if your story doesn’t pass it, you might as well just give up.

When I started working on my first novel, I was completely oblivious to the controversy over this subject. I just read Stieg Larsson’s Millennium series and really liked it. I liked that he wrote in third person intimate and when the time came, I just adopted the way he did things because it seemed to fit my personal writing style.

As this novel project has progressed, however, there have been a few times when I have been very clearly admonished against writing from a female POV using third person intimate. Being the ornery person that I am this has only served to make me angry.

Not only is the point to tell a great story, but I find it unfair to presume that just because I’m a man that I can’t write from a female POV. Of course, to some members of the “woke cancel culture mob” that’s not even the point — it’s not so much that I can’t write from female POV as a man, it’s that I shouldn’t.

I fucking hate this test.

Fuck that. And fuck you if you believe that.

It’s because of thinking like that we got Trump. Ugh.

As I’ve written before, I hate orthodoxy of any sort because it restrains one’s ability to think freely, to admit when you’re wrong and to see the world for what it really is.

Anyway, now I feel very self-conscious, insecure and paranoid about what I’m doing — but that won’t stop me from continuing to do exactly what I’m doing. Some of this comes from I’m simply unwilling to bow to the “woke cancel culture mob” this late in the process and some of it comes from I know I can overcome the obvious obstacles of writing a female character in a compelling, honest way as a male author.

At this point, my biggest fear is that writing from a female POV as a male author will just add to the already nearly impossible odds I face when it comes to getting traditionally published. But no one ever got anywhere in this world without taking a risk. So, here I am.

Only time will tell if the risk I’m taking pans out or not.

Why I Don’t Want To Self-Publish My First Novel (At The Moment)

by Shelt Garner

It’s very possible that, in the end, I self-publish this novel I’ve been working on for a number of years. And, yet, at the moment all I can say is fuck off to all the self-publishing advocates on Tik-Tok who want to bring me down and shit on my dreams of getting traditionally published.

The whole point of this project, from the beginning, has been to see how far I can get before I have to resign myself to self-publishing. I have improved so much as a writer and a storyteller because I have set my expectations so high. I know how difficult it is to get traditionally published but, as I keep saying, no one ever got anywhere by playing it safe.

So, here I am.

The reason why I keep writing about this is I feel insecure. I keep doing a gut check to see if I do, in fact, really want to go the traditional publishing route. And, to date, I continue to believe that I do.

It’s just I keep seeing Tik-Tok after Tik-Tok from self-publishing advocates who want to make me feel like shit for going the traditional route. Ugh. Fuck those guys.

I have found that self-publishing people are extremely touchy. When they’re not shitting on my dream of getting traditionally published, they freak out if you even so much as suggest that that that route is not for you. They seem absolutely convinced that anyone who doesn’t go the self-publishing route is a fool.

Well, as the late Annie Shapiro said of me, I’m a “delusional jerk with a good heart” so maybe I am a fool — but I know my true north and I’m willing to risk failure. But I absolutely believe in myself and, as such, I would at least like to see how far I can get before it hits me that getting traditionally published is out of the question.

I have to admit, of course, that it is rather disheartening when it sinks in that I could be in my mid-50s before I get published — and that’s if I stick the landing. But some of that angst is out of my control. I can’t help that I let my age slip up on me.

I’m 20 to 25 years older than the typical person writing their first novel and Just have to deal with my status as a late bloomer. I can’t go back in time and change when I decided I had something to say to the point that I was willing to throw myself into the process of writing a novel that I wanted to publish traditionally. The whole debate over being self-published or traditionally published gives me a headache.

I know my vision for this project and I’m willing to endure the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune associated with the struggle to get through the gatekeepers.

Self-Publishing Advocates On Tik-Tok Sure Do Love To Shit On People Like Me Who Want To Attempt To Traditionally Publish Their Novel

by Shelt Garner

I totally validate anyone who wants to self-publish their novel. If you abide strictly by the cold, hard metrics of the real world, self-publishing definitely makes a lot of sense. You have to be wilfully delusional to believe you can get traditionally published — especially if you’re an old, CIS white male like me. But, guess what — I am wilfully delusional.

What bothers me is many self-publishing advocates on Tik-Tok seem to want to go out of their way to shit on my dream of being traditionally published. They pick apart all the problems with getting traditionally published. I’ve seen everything from how statistics are against you to the fact that you can’t pick your cover being cited as reasons to go the self-publishing route.

Jesus Christ is it all very annoying. Fuck off, you assholes.

I have a huge chip on my shoulder when it comes to my writing, so huge, in fact, that I’m willing to risk everything to pursue my dream of proving a point by getting traditionally published. From the very beginning, the point of the project has been to see how far I could get into the traditional publishing process before it became absolutely clear that I was going to have to self-publish.

The reason why this is at the forefront of my mind is not just the fact that I’m gradually leaving the “wilfully delusional” stage of the march towards attempting to be traditionally published, but I am constantly bombarded with a deluge Tik-Toks by self-publishing advocates who keep going on and on about how I’m an idiot to even attempt to get traditionally published.

I know one of the reasons why I keep seeing these self-publishing advocates on Tik-Tok is there is a massive cottage industry around self-publishing and so people are trying to make some money by facilitating others following them down that path. Even though I know this, I’m still fucking aggravated by how insistent all these self-publishing advocates are that I should give up my traditional publishing dream.

A big part of the whole process of going the traditional publishing route is how difficult it is. I’m going to be forced to go outside my comfort zone the moment I finish my novel and have to convince a gatekeeper that my “baby” is good enough to actually get traditionally published. The whole thing is exciting and dangerous and risky and I often find myself feeling pretty insecure about it all — hence how much I bitch and moan about self-publishing advocates shitting on my dream.

Anyway. I’m not ruling out going the self-publishing route. That may, in fact, be what ultimately happens. But not yet. I’m prepared to endure the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune in my quest to be traditionally published. It’s definitely going to be interesting to see which comes first — civil war or me seeing my novel in the hands of readers.

Things Are Stabilizing

by Shelt Garner

After nearly a month of spinning my wheels, I’ve managed to stabilize the scene sequence of my outline. The sequence and scene count are not perfect by any means, but things are just about where I want them to be. I continue to be worried about word count and how my age might, unto themselves, prevent me from getting a book deal.

I can now, hopefully, zoom through the first act and start to get into the second act. I’m hoping that the treading water problems I’ve been having comes from now really knowing how to build the foundation of the story and now that I have that sorted out the rest of the writing will go much, much faster.

At least, that’s the belief at this point.

If I’m ever going to even be in a position to query, I have to actually finish the fucking novel. It will be interesting to see how things progress. I think I’m going to take one of my occasional writing “pauses” for a few days that allows me to come roaring back and get things done.

I do this on occasion because I can get so wrapped up in my own mind that I “run hot” and really don’t progress very much. Just a pause of a day or so can really cause the writing afterwards to be significantly better. That’s the goal. I still hope to finish the first draft by no later than, say, May.

First Of Us

by Shelt Garner

Everyone is so busy destroying the world in fiction, I find myself thinking about the opposite — given the opportunity, how would you rebuild civilization on a new, habitable planet in a new solar system? The key condition of the scenario would be that other than the high tech zapping that would be involved, humanity would be forced to work together using the present-day level of technology to bootstrap a global civilization back into existence.

Now, the issue at the moment is I have pretty great scenario but no plot. I need an excuse to run around this idea. What I like about this scenario is sort of the “I’ll give you something to cry about” nature of it. What if, on a macro basis, the United States was forced to make some high stakes macro decisions that would affect the lives of everyone on earth? Do we even have it within us to pull that off?

The point of the story, whatever it ultimately became, would be that people do strange things when macro power politics are involved. I mean, just think about how casually the Korean peninsula was divided after World War 2. That would be something this story explored — what if some “other” forced humanity to think up some some way to create a common global civilization?

I have an idea of how it would be done, but it would be so controveral and cause so much anger on the part of all non-Americans (and a lot of Americans, too!) that that, unto itself, would be the source of a lot of the plot.

But, again, at the moment, I just don’t have any plot. Nothing. Just a very expansive universe.


by Shelt Garner

The sweetspot for a novel written by a first-time author is somewhere around the 80,000 to 100,000 word marker. It’s my impression that any more than that the cost of physically publishing the novel’s paper grows significantly. I have finally gotten my outline where I want it to be, but surprise, I currently have way too many scenes if you figure the average scene is about 1,000 words.

So, I have to make a decision. Keep the existing structure of the novel or slash and burn the scene count to cut things down to a more marketable size. Here’s the problem — while I have a starting point later on in the story, I just feel as though the only way to engage readers is with a longer story.

If I start the story at the later point I’m thinking about, then I just don’t feel audiences will really care as much. Yes, I get to the point of the story a lot sooner, but my concern is the story just won’t be as engaging. The characters won’t be as fleshed out and, as such, the overall story won’t be as readable.

Another thing is — the specifics of the novel, even in second draft, is very much in flux. What’s more, scenes aren’t always 1,000 words. The first draft of this novel was 120,000 words. My few alpha readers have found the story “intriguing” by not so much that they’re all that eager to read the whole thing. So, the thinking is if I really flesh out the characters and make readers care about them that they might actually want to finish the whole story.

I Worry My Age, Unto Itself, Will Prevent Me From Getting Traditionally Published

by Shelt Garner

I’ve always been a late bloomer and working on a novel is no different. I’m now zooming towards my 50th birthday as I struggle with my first novel. The novel’s second draft has gotten much, much better even though I am writing it in a creative vacuum.

As part of a broader bout of existential angst on turning 50, I find myself fear that my age, unto itself, will be the reason why I can’t get traditionally published and will have to turn to self-publishing. While self-publishing is a totally valid option, it’s just not my vision for this novel.

I have a huge chip on my shoulder about my writing and I want to prove to the haters that despite being a big old loser for way too long, I can write a novel good enough that it gets past the gatekeepers of the traditional publishing route.

I have very high standards for myself and I’ve only managed to get as far as I have because I have set such a high standard for myself — getting traditionally published. It’s just I’ve been drifting towards this goal and my age has kind of snuck up on me. If I had a wife or girlfriend, then maybe I wouldn’t be in this shitty situation.

But, alas, I just don’t. And so, here I am, almost 50 having to manage my expectations about the fate of this novel. I have to accept that even if I stick the landing, I could be in my mid-50s before this novel comes out. That really changes things to some extent because if I manage to become rich and famous because I’ve written a breakout first novel…I’m going to be a fucking old man when it happens.

So, it’s not like I can run around New York City with a bunch of 24 year olds discovering the city and life for the first time. All my peers will be married empty nesters thinking about retirement. So, if I turn into the next fucking Tom Wolfe I’m going to have, in real terms, a very brief moment to enjoy that success. And all my female peers will be too old too have children and if they’re single — probably too bitter to get married to some rando like me who has suddenly found success late in life.

In short, everything sucks. I’m too fucking old and there’s absolutely nothing I can do about it. I just have to process the reality of the situation and keep believing in myself.

Am I ‘Woke’ *Enough* to Get Traditionally Published?

by Shelt Garner

I’m just a smelly, middle aged CIS white male with a looming 50th birthday coming at me at an alarming rate and, as such, I worry about my ability to get traditionally published. I worry about this to the point that I sometimes idly muse that I should concoct a new identity that fits the agenda of the “woke cancel culture mob.”

I’m well aware that, in real terms, CIS white men as the Youngs call people like me, continue to dominate the publishing world. Ok, I get it. And, yet, I’m an old white man in the middle of nowhere struggling to get traditionally published for the first time. It sure would be nice to suck at the teet of the orthodoxy of the “woke cancel culture mob” with a personal story that they found appealing.

If I was a 24 transgender Latino, I suspect my novel would be a lot more warmly read than it would be as me coming at them from my sad reality. I can’t help how old I am and I need all the help I can get to get published traditionally. The more I know about what it takes to get traditionally published, the more alarmed I grow.

And, yet, I have made it my life’s passion to be wilfully delusional. Acting like I might actually have a chance of getting traditionally published given how much delusion that is going to require, is kind of my thing.

When it comes to how easy or difficult it is for people like me to get traditionally published a lot of it comes down to perception. Leftists point out the cold hard reality that old white men tend to get published, while it “feels true” to Right wing nutjobs that CIS white men simply can’t get a fair shake in the deep Blue publishing industry.

Lulz. Who knows. With me luck in my active, wilful delusion.

Well, There’s At Least A Logic To The Structure Of This Novel

by Shelt Garner

After spending most of January spinning my wheels in the first chapter of this second draft of my first novel, I think I may have finally stabilized things some. The issue has been — as it has always been — that I’m doing all of this in a creative vacuum and so it is a real struggle to figure out some basic elements of the story.


But I believe I understand the point of this story — the novel isn’t so much about the murder that takes place as it is about one woman’s need for closure over the death of her parents in the guise of owning the newspaper they once owned. The murder is really just an excuse to explore my heroines need for closure and validation in the eyes of a community that feels slighted by her in a big way.


Now that I understand what to focus on, I have a better grasp of the intended ebb and flow of the structure of the story. Of course, this is just the first act. But the first act set the tone for the novel as its “foundation.” Everything else about the novel is built on the cornerstone of the first chapter.

My dream title for my first novel.

My goal at this point is just to write a novel that is good enough that during the looming beta process my beta readers won’t grow bored. That they won’t just find the novel “intriguing” but will rush through it at nice clip because they enjoy it so much.

That’s the dream, at least. But, as I keep saying, I don’t have a Reader so all I have when writing this novel is my gut to guide me. Only time will tell if my gut has its hunch about what to do with this story right or not.