A Boy and His Book: Elliott Brady's Turned a New Page
From quadruple pirouettes in his Topman socks to sitting on his roof writing a book, Elliott's had quite the creative rollercoaster this year.
Myself and Elliott have spent three years giggling our way through ballet classes and although I could recognise that relevé anywhere, I clearly didn't know much else about him as I couldn't believe he was being serious when he one day announced (during a zoom class) that he was writing a book. I had a lot of questions, so an interview seemed like a good place to start.
A: Good morning, Elliott Brady.
E: Morning darling.
Firstly, Elliott describes himself as though he were investigating a criminal on the run '21 year old male from Cheshunt ... homosexual' but he soon drops the notepad and talks to me as as though we are good friends. Bit forward.
E: I'm gay, I came out in... well I dunno the year, probably 2016?
A: Woah, really?
A: That feels like, not that long ago.
E: It was actually in my, erm, my first job in Topman, erm, I started a straight man and I left the job a gay man.
A: Oh my god. Topman turned you gay.
E: After a year, it really doesn't take long. That's why Arcadia has closed down because it's turned too many people into homosexuals.
(It's obvious that we're friends and we're joking, right?)
After graduating this year from London Studio Centre (I promise, I will eventually talk to people other than LSC graduates), Elliott lives at home working at Sports Direct and takes lots of Instagram stories of his three (super cute) dogs. However, we aren't here to discuss dogs (though I expect that would gain a lot more attention), we're here to talk about Elliott's work in progress...
E: Like everyone in the beginning of lockdown, we were just trying to find things to do, and I think the thing that started it [writing] off was when we had a self tape for Aaron and we had to write that monologue? And I went 'oh, I quite like this, this is fun' and I remember talking to Tori and I went 'I wanna write, like I just think it would be really interesting', she was like 'what do you wanna write?' and, obviously, going from that monologue you would have just assumed I was like 'oh you know, like maybe a play' but then I was just like 'hmm. Dunno, maybe a book on anxiety?' So, yeah I started off with the intro, like, the little 'starting note from me' bit, then it just spiralled from there, really.
Writing a book is completely different to writing sketches and screenplays, but we both agree that we found peace in writing during lockdown. BL (before lockdown), both Elliott and myself were dancing all day, training, stretching, preparing for an agent week, so to go from spending our spare time in the splits or going over dance routines to sitting on the sofa with our laptops open was quite the holiday.
A: Was it hard to transition from something so physical, to something so mental? Now, bearing in mind, I don't mean to say dance isn't mental, because it obviously is, we know that, but I just mean in terms of actual activity and expression.
E: We were finding it very hard to get up in the morning and dance in our living room, everyone knew it was getting really hard. It made it [writing] a lot easier because, I wasn't hating what I was doing, but I feel like... a strong feeling towards something, always makes doing the opposite easier. Instead of getting up and dancing in the morning I was like 'oh I'm excited to work on my laptop and just... sit' and not be expected to do anything for anyone. That was nice.
Elliott, at the time, had a little roof outside his bedroom window that he used as his writing spot. I'm not sure it was intended as that, but at least he was getting his money's worth out of his rent.
Elliott's book is a personal account of his journey with anxiety and mental health. He's been very kind and allowed me to read it so far, so I know what I'm talking about when I say that it's an honest, helpful understanding of the anxious mind in all it's ups and downs. I ask if it's a self-help book, or if it's a book of awareness, and, I agree when he claims it's 'a bit of both'.
E: There's potentially going to be five chapters, but the fourth one is going to be really small. It's not going to be a massive book.
Carrying on, Elliott is very excited to tell me that he has finished the book... and now he's re-writing it entirely. His determination to complete a project in lockdown led to him feeling like the book was rushed, when he returned to edit a month later. We both confirm it's important to give your writing some breathing time, but Elliott confesses his fears upon revisiting.
E: The reason I left it so long after I'd finished it was because I was scared about what I would think if it's: 'yeah this is amazing' or 'no... no this is shit.'
A: How have you found being a new writer?
E: I think it's been a bit of a small journey, discovering how I write. In the beginning, I was writing a serious monologue with funny bits in and I thought that was my thing, so with the whole first book I was chucking in little jokes and little things that I thought were funny. Re-writing it, I think I found a sense of... you don't need to laugh and joke because the things you're saying are more than relatable to the point where people probably will just laugh! I was trying to make it funny so more people would find it interesting.
He continues to say part of his initial journey was being happy with what he was writing and how he was writing it (to be specific, in Starbucks).
E: What I'd done with the first book was just writing anything even if I wasn't 100% happy with it. Not yesterday, day before, I sat in Starbucks for 4 hours and I'd written half a sentence-
A: Oh, we've all been there.
E: Because, I didn't like the way I'd started chapter 2, so I thought 'it's fine I'll just re-write the first 5 lines' because that's what I didn't like about it, and then I was like... well.
This is from the CCTV at Cheshunt Starbucks.
It's called; Elliott rewriting his book.
As we continue to chat, we make a lot of parallels between dancing and writing, how we don't produce good work when we force ourselves to dance/write and how we immediately question our methods, even though, when writing, there isn't anyone around to compare yourself to.
A: It's hard as a new writer because you're like 'is this what everyone does? Am I being lazy? Am I not writing enough? Am I writing too much?' It's really confusing.
E: For the first part of it, I was stupidly comparing myself to the length of the Harry Potter books.
A: They're huge!
E: I know! But my brain was going 'J.K Rowling wrote loads, hun'. And I was like 'Oh god! Rowling's going to be so annoyed!'
A: So, I'm going to ask a question that has kind of no meaning because we don't have these things anymore, but what's the plan/not plan?
E: God, yeah. Erm, I think it's just, see how it goes. Ideally I'd love to get it out, to be like 'Hi, this is what I've done. If you like it, give it a read, let me know what you think'. But you always have that self-doubt of... it's not really good enough to release.
A: Self-doubt is the worst part of doing something new!
And, unfortunately, myself and Elliott are both crippled with it. But, I don't blame us! Starting something new is scary. Especially when you want to be taken seriously. Putting your work out there when you've only just started is scarier than offering to make Christmas Dinner for the first time.
BUT... as I said to Elliott, we are the generation of change. And we have a responsibility to pave the way for the future. So, don't be scared to put yourself out there and try something new. I'm doing it, Elliott's doing it and you can too. Plus, if you start writing, I can interview you for my website!
Elliott's book 'AND BREATHE' is currently just on his laptop. I don't have a link or anything to share, but sometimes he puts little paragraphs of it on his Instagram stories. So, here you go: