YOUR JAMIE ALONE IS NOT ENOUGH
As mentioned last week, it was time for me to read over and finalize what constitutes the first complete draft of This World and Body, previously referred to as Jamie S. Rich/Joëlle Jones Book 3. It's a 170-page graphic novel that I guess takes us back to relationship territory, but more mature, darker, and a little bit racier.
The writing was kind of rough-going. Though this is the first complete draft, it actually is labeled Version 3 on the file. The first version got about halfway there before I had to reexamine what I was doing and try a different tactic. I still like that early stuff, it's compact and visually moves quite effortlessly, but it's also overly ambiguous and maybe too aloof. The second version ended up being the near-complete story, but with some holes and a lack of thorough formatting. Version 3 firms all of that up.
I actually read over the second version last Wednesday in lieu of going to the Platform Festival that day, but didn't really get to come back to the manuscript until yesterday. It took two days, but I have now printed out a copy to give to Joëlle and get her feedback.
Honestly, I was kind of surprised by how it turned out, and I ended up liking the script quite a bit. If I had to classify it, I'd say This World and Body is like an elegy for what has come before. Naturally, I didn't think in those terms as I wrote it. I'm not one to plan that meticulously when it comes to theme and sartorial intent. I prefer to let that sort of stuff grow naturally from the story, which to me is the most important. It's only later that the work contextualizes itself for me, and then it's only a matter of understanding what I did both to evaluate what to do with it and look ahead toward what is next. In terms of my bibliography, it's probably the most cynical book I've written, but it also has the kind of ending that I like, where whether someone is suffering a punishment or has found a kind of happiness (or both) is really up to debate.
I don't know. We'll see what happens with it. Joëlle has several things on her docket before this will come up on the schedule, so there will be plenty of time to ruminate.
As a bit of insight into where I am at with this, here is my writing soundtrack:
1. Marion - "Let's All Go Together"
2. Depeche Mode - "When the Body Speaks (Acoustic Version)"
3. The Concretes - "Sugar"
4. Camera Obscura - "Country Mile"
5. Madonna - "Frozen (edit)"
6. Brett Anderson - "Love Is Dead"
7. Manic Street Preachers/Nina Persson - "You Love Alone is Not Enough"
8. Martina Topley-Bird - "Anything"
9. The Bluetones - "Pretty Ballerina"
10. Amy Winehouse - "Love is a Losing Game"
11. Travis - "Closer"
12. Suede - "Untitled [Stanbridge Demo]"
13. Camera Obscura - "If Looks Could Kill"
14. Depeche Mode - "The Darkest Star"
15. Marion - "Your Body Lies"
16. The Cowboy Junkies - "You Will Be Loved Again"
On an odd side note, this morning I watched Cover Girl with Gene Kelly and Rita Hayworth. It's been years since I have seen it, though it was one of those movies I had taped off of cable in high school and watched as often as I could. I have always had a huge crush on Hayworth, and Cover Girl always fit well alongside the more noirish films like Gilda and The Lady From Shanghai that had made me a fan. I've only since become a fan of Gene Kelly in the last couple of years, learning to better appreciate his approach to dance and his overall artistic vision, and that could be why I actually feel like I understand Cover Girl now better than I ever did.
I'm always fascinated how the things we see and experience influence us in life and art, and watching this movie now, it's clear to me that it was a much bigger inspiration for me than I had ever realized. So many elements of this seemingly light story of two nightclub entertainers torn apart by the sudden fame one of them (Hayworth) acquires reflect pretty standard tropes that have shown up in my fiction. The way Gene Kelly battles his own subconscious in a dance of wills, and then leaves everything behind when he decides it's hopeless--a kind of Old Yeller approach to love, forcing someone to leave you by insisting you're no good for them--is obviously familiar. Of course, there is also the totemic symbol of searching for a pearl as an omen of happiness and togetherness, not unlike the fortune cookies that bound Tristan and Isobel in Love the Way You Love. I was barely in my teens when I first gravitated to this musical, and yet Cover Girl reveals that the basic foundation of who I am as a writer (and as a person) was already in place.
From the most unlikely sources...
And I still do love Rita Haywoth. Joëlle once asked me one of those fun psychological riddles that everyone uses to suss out another person's personality. She asked if I could form my perfect woman from three classical Hollywood actresses, who would they be. The choice of Audrey Hepburn would surprise no one, I'm sure, and Lauren Bacall is also fairly obvious I would think. The third was Rita Hayworth.
People should post their three in the comments section. Pick your gender as appropriate. Cut-off for classic Hollywood is probably the mid-'60s, when the ratings system started changing and the new auteurs were breaking down the old studio approach. Some classic pictures were still being made, though, so there is some leeway. I would say the ultimate cut-off would be someone whose first film was made after 1975. My blog, my rules. Use your best judgment.
Current Soundtrack: Graham Coxon, The Golden D (it's as bad as I remember); "Lara's Theme" from Dr. Zhivago
Current Mood: thoughtful