A personal diary keeping people abreast of what I am working on writing-wise.

Monday, July 02, 2007


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


Maryanne said...

I'm not sure if you mean physically perfect, or personality wise (on camera or off), but I think my answers would be the same regardless. For the perfect guy: Cary Grant, Frank Sinatra, Bing Crosby. For the perfect woman: Audrey (obviously), Elizabeth Taylor, and Rosalind Russell. What does that say about my personality?

Jamie S. Rich said...

Personality, looks, whatever makes you swoon.

Cary Grant would definitely be on my male list.

Jenny said...

This one's a bit tough for me, mostly because I was raised on a steady diet of Die Hard over Casablanca. What can I say, my dad likes when things go boom.

I'd have to say Paul Newman (a poster from Cool Hand Luke quite literally stole my breath away in college), Cary Grant (doye) and Yul Brynner (what?).

For women, I'd have to say Katherine Hepburn (sorry), Marilyn Monroe and Mae West.

Jamie S. Rich said...

And why would you apologize for Katharine Hepburn? I love her. In fact, it's somewhat telling that two of my likely male choices would be Cary Grant and Spencer Tracy, her regular co-stars (since the first two respondents have gone for double gender). The last male is a tough one for me, though. I think I'll go with...

Humphrey Bogart.

But those three could likely change at different times (outside of Grant), whereas the women are consistent. I think once you step into your own gender, it almost becomes who you'd want to be less than it is a sort of ideal mate.

Jenny said...

There's a perceived Audrey vs. Kate battle. I'm in "enemy territory."

The only person who is a maybe for me is Yul Brynner. I was considering Sean Connery for a while, but the emotional response I had as a kid to The King and I really took it. It's really less Yul Brynner and more King Mongkut. But then again, it was less Sean Connery and more James Bond so...

Chynna said...

I already answered the men's side once before, but I'll say it again because it's fun.
Jack Lemmon (siiigh), Cary Grant (esp. in His Girl Friday), and William Powell, who I will always love.

For the women, Myrna Loy (of course), Lauren "rowrr" Bacall, and Lana Turner, because she is SO dishy and dangerous. Well, they all are dishy. Two are dangerous, the other just trouble. Dames with brains.

mcoale said...

Ingrid Bergman, Myrna Loy, Veronica Lake.

on the guy side: Cary Grant, Groucho, David Niven

mcoale said...

I've been fretting about my guy choice for a while now.

I think grant and niven are too similar.

instead, I'll go with: Grant, Groucho, Welles (Kane era)

Jamie S. Rich said...


Yeah, Welles was my alternate, and I hemmed and hawed wondering if I was picking Bogart for the same reasons as Spencer Tracy--two stand-up guys. Welles throws in a little mad genius.

Is there no one who will pick Cary Grant? He was on Joëlle's list, too.

mcoale said...

do you mean who will not pick him?

Of course, everyone picks him. to paraphrase the original Pulp Fiction script, "he's the Cary Grant of men."

(Yes, I had to look up whether or not the line was actually in the movie. I had forgotten QT replaced it with the Green Acres line.)

Jamie S. Rich said...

Errrr, yes. Who won't pick him.

Let's not forget the famous Cary Grant quote: "Everyone wants to be Cary Grant. Even I do." (paraphrased)