I finished reading The Brave last night. After taking a few weeks off after finishing the draft – just to clear the air – the read-through took a lot longer than expected, in part due to how much more closely I was paying attention to it than a regular novel-smash. Also, I took a lot of notes.

The verdict? 

It’s a book. Definitely a book. Particularly from about half way to the end it felt like something, albeit a messy kind of something. Having said that, the first few chapters are a different beast; five chapters in, I was actually starting to feel something close to despair. I finally understood what they mean when folks describe their early drafts as utter rubbish. Salvageable, yes, but still rubbish. If it weren’t for the fact I seemed to find my stride at a particular moment in the book, then hold the same level fairly consistently through to the end, I’d be heavily entering the murky realms of self-doubt.

Once I did get to the end, I was pleased. Proud even, if one is allowed to be at such an early juncture. It’s definitely a “first book”, in that it’s not that complicated, not that heavily layered, and the subject matter is fairly straight-forward, but at the same time I did find myself entertained, chuckling at some of the characters, and feeling for (at least some) of the characters. It’s hard to read something you’ve been so immersed in for so long, but if anything, the fact that it had taken me so long to write afforded me a certain distance from particularly the earlier half of the book, and I did find myself coming into certain scenes quite cold, unable to recall exactly how I’d written through. There were no surprises (beyond a couple of classic typo’s… I actually used my own name in dialog at one point by mistake, twice on the one page…. who knows what that was all about…. The annotation (for correction) I left in the margin was simply : “LOL”…) but I did feel I was reading certain lines or paragraphs quite fresh.

Hopefully, for the last time. Now shit gets real. The next time I sit down for a scheduled writing session, it’s game on. I know what I need to do to pull the early structure back into line. I’m absolutely GAGGING to get finished with the structural reshuffling and start looking at each and every paragraph, sentence and word, and working on my economics. I’m really, really looking forward to ditching – entirely – the chapter now formerly known as Chapter Three, razed ruthlessly and dissolving back into the ether from whence it came by the time I do the next full read.  

Exciting times, though who can tell? The whole process so far has proven that yes, I enjoy the hell out of writing, but that life does indeed get in the way when you’re still trying to hold down a day job. I wonder if I’ll get there? To that place where I’m actually smashing out words all day long, instead of smashing out slap-comps for the shooty-bang-bang car-chase action movie? (Side note : not that I’m not enjoying vfx at the moment. It’s strange – I’ve had a complete revival of enthusiasm for the job since getting to London. The change was as good as a holiday, and while I still do plan on moving on eventually, I’m not hating my days at all right now.)

I shouldn’t get hung up on the time it takes though. Nobody else is. I’m getting a few “shit… how long have you been working on that now” comments of late, but internally I’m pretty aware of how long this stuff takes now, especially when you’re only getting to it for a few hours a few times a week.

I’ll get there. It’s still a steaming great mess, there’ll be hair-pulling, grunts, speaking in tongues and moments of madness, but I will get there.