You don't really read what you're writing, while you're writing the first draft. You're busy 'just compiling' your ideas and your research into some sort of words on the page. The way writing goes is you do your literary best at the time of writing, you're really concentrated on the actual writing process; the vocab, the phrases, the action. Only later do you consider the possibility that there's a 'voice' in there, and you can check against it for consistency.
But the act of writing and the way the words, phrases, sentences and paragraphs, the personal glitches in your own Evertainment matrix, the way themes lift from one chapter to the next like petty thievery, the way personalities blitz through the entire structure of the book like a Supernova; that realisation doesn't come until you sit down with your first draft and begin that 'homogenise-voicing' process.
You go through, fixing, enhancing, adding, taking away; honing what you imagined to have been a 'finished first draft' but you realise was all sorts of wrong for all sorts of reasons, little reasons, big reasons. It was an Auschwitz skeleton in some parts and over-bloatedly obese in others. But was all sorts of right for reasons you'd forgotten about in the act of weaving the disparate narrative threads into prose aka 'the act of writing'.
It's this second draft read/write through that's causing me the greatest joy and the greatest consternation.
FREE PLANET the novel, is an absolutely insane fairground ride glimpse into one of our potential near futures. But it's something else, it has these quite nauseating rhythms all through it, these dislocating dissonances, these lethal edges of total and utter vomit-inducing paranoia. I knew it was going to be an unpleasant read but I didn't realise it would be such an unhinged experience. It's the nasty feeling in your guts, as The Custodians and You The People alternately do their upmost to totally fuck up whatever amount of promise this Free Planet idea may once have had.
There were a few things that needed beefing up at the end of the book, a symptom of the choice of ending I'd made during the writing of the first draft, the deletions I'd made. I had to go in and do things I really didn't want to do with the characters, the elite, the re-wilded, the world, the ending. I'm now more than happy with where this novel has gone, how it developed as a story, and especially the ending. I think it will really challenge, come 2013.