Well, I made it! Not to the end end but to the end of the middle. Honestly, sometimes I doubted whether or not I would ever get here. Now that I'm here? Well, that's opened up a whole other can of self-doubt, brain fog and other writing-related woes!
Okay, let's break this down.
The second half of act 2 was waaaay easier than the first - and this was because the second half of act 2 centred around the main historical incident in my novel - it was the part I had researched most keenly, most carefully planned and plotted, so obviously it was a touch easier.
Some of the epiphanies I had along the way were actually pretty great. There are parts of the plot that I am so happy with and I feel like the characterisation of my main character and her love interest are consistent. There are shades of grey to their characters.
There's even a scene which was super emotional to write to the point where I did actually shed one or two frosty little tears.
Final good thing? ...it's done?
2. The Bad
Let's be real - this draft suuuuuucks. There are parts of the middle of this novel which are way too fast and gloss over kind of key information. There are parts where things happen and there doesn't seem to be any deeper motivation. There are parts where, as I wrote them, I knew my writing was trash and I just kept going in the name of making it to the end.
I introduce a character in the second half of the novel who has been built up since the very first pages and I don't think my writing skill is even nearly up to scratch to do him justice. His characterisation is alllll over the place. I couldn't work him out and find a way to write him to show the parts my main character remembered but also the contrast with who he actually is...
And, worse, I think I've fallen into a bit of 'character soup' where there are just lots of different people with no real purpose. E.g. three separate barmen with more or less the same personality who really only serve drinks and provide basic information my characters really need.
Essentially the bad parts of this draft heavily outweigh the good. I actually shudder at the thought of re-reading it for edits!
3. The (really really) Ugly
Yeah, it gets worse.
When I started writing this novel I stressed and stressed (and stressed) about the middle. I seriously thought that was where I would fall apart. And, in fairness, sometimes the going was slow. But I had clear plot points I was working towards. What I wrote might have been total shit, but I wrote it and moved the story forwards.
Well, now I'm breaking into Act 3 - the end of the book. And I have no idea what I'm doing. Where is this story going? What is the ending going to be? What struggles will there be to get there? Your guess is as good as mine. And that is concerning.
I had a rant about this on Twitter a few weeks ago and then woke up with an idea. But I know it's not a good idea. In fact, I know it's a terrible idea. And now the going is so slow I'm practically going backwards. My chapter lengths have plummeted from a steady 2000-3000 words to barely scraping 1000. And, let me tell you, they're not 1000 words that I would ever let another person read.
I thought Act 2 was my Everest. But that was grossly naive. I yearn for those Halcyon days...
I know that this is my first first draft. It's supposed to be hard and it's supposed to be messy. The associated angst is cliché. But why does it have to be this way? I'm so desperate to finish this draft and move the f**k on and right now I feel like I'm never going to get there.
But this is the process of learning. It's hard and it's messy and as I make my way through this experience for the first time, I'm realising that my 'process' probably (definitely) needs amending. Hopefully, when I eventually hold a printed, published copy of my book (although, maybe not, ya know, this current book I'm working on, which as I mentioned is TRASH) this whole experience will have been worth it. That is my hope.