PARISIANISM FOR BEGINNERS: THE LAURENCE REMILA COLUMN:
CONFESSIONS OF AN UNPUBLISHED WRITER (part two)
"Stood at the bar of Le Queen, I'm talking to someone else whose first time it is in this club: Vincent Gallo. I come up with a bunch of fanboy stuff, and at one point I mention that I'm happy today. Why? I tell him of my rendez-vous earlier this afternoon. VG: And what's it called? LR: The manuscript? VG: Yeah. LR: Well, uhm, I like the title: ___ ____ __ ___ _____ _______. VG laughs."
By Laurence Rémila
COPYRIGHT © 2003, 3 A.M. MAGAZINE. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
Late one morning, October 2003:
The phone call comes weeks after I'd given up waiting. It's the Editrice from Fagooney, and she's called to tell me they're passing on my "George Costanza, c'est moi" (not the actual title, still). Much of what she says makes sense, though I suspect it to be the stuff dished out to many an "aspiring" writer. Words like "potential" and "singular" pepper her speech. I start explaining what it was I tried to do, then give up when the Editrice asks: "Are you saying that someone has to have seen Lucia y el sexo to understand your manuscript?" She doesn't see the need for the convoluted, "jigsaw structure" of the first half, and tells me: "You're making things needlessly complicated." Story of my life, I say (to myself). She tells me that she prefers the second half -- linear and relatively "appeased" -- and that she'll gladly look at my "next" effort…
"Madame Laurence Rémila" receives a couple of rejection letters. Which goes to show that the person sending it hasn't read the manuscript (it's all about a man whose name is a girl's -- in France), or even the covering letter that accompanied it (a masterpiece of comic genius). As the weeks pass, I decide on two things. First, to quit seeing this girl who's shown herself unable to read the thing; what's the point of pursuing a relationship with someone who's less than an ally? Second, to ditch the manuscript. I chuck several copies of it in the yellow "recycle" bin that's down in the yard, and that's that.
Late one afternoon, early January, 2004:
There's an e-mail from a friend, B___, waiting in my Outlook Express. He asks me if I've heard from Ragged&Broke (not the actual name), one of the publishing houses I'd left my manuscript at. I tell him I haven't, and learn that one of their readers is quite taken with what I've written. I don't really know what to make of this information. On the one hand, I'm flattered -- moved, even -- that something left at the reception of one of Paris' main publishers found itself a reader six months on. That 'twas done "anonymously", without trying to make the most of vague acquaintanceships I may have in the lit-business. On the other hand, there's the fact that in the meantime, I've turned my back on the thing. I feel like the underage mother who's left her baby on the Town Hall steps, and who's tracked down once she's all but finished her mourning.
A Sunday in January, 2004:
Rive-Gauche, a lit-do. I meet "The Reader". He tells me how much he liked the manuscript, how it's one of the most unusual he's read in six months, how bits reminded him of J. Cortazar (woaaah!)… The Reader: "And I've just finished reading it a second time." LR: "Uhm. Have you ever spent time in a mental institution?"
Early one morning, late March 2004:
The phone rings, it's The Reader's boss, Lit-Ed (one of two, I believe) at Ragged&Broke. "I believe you were expecting my call. Well, I've finished reading your manuscript. At first, I was very, very enthusiastic about it. And then, I was really, really exasperated… Do you want to come and meet me, and hear what I have to say?"
Thursday, April 1, 2004:
4pm: I'm sat in the Lit-Ed's office, and I feel strange. I haven't so much as looked at the manuscript in five months, and there it is on her desk. I leaf through it, and listen to the encouraging things she has to say. Things that I needed to hear from a stranger whose work I admire (she works with ______ ______, one of my favourite French writers). Things that bring me close to turning into a blubbering wreck… She adds: "But this second half! Nothing happens." LR: "I wanted to, you know, oppose inaction to the first half's action." Lit-Ed: "Yeah, but… 100 pages?!" LR: "Uhm, well, there's him looking at those Portuguese girls." Lit-Ed: "…"
11pm, the same day: Stood at the bar of Le Queen, I'm talking to someone else whose first time it is in this club: Vincent Gallo. I come up with a bunch of fanboy stuff, and at one point I mention that I'm happy today. Why? I tell him of my rendez-vous earlier this afternoon. VG: And what's it called? LR: The manuscript? VG: Yeah. LR: Well, uhm, I like the title: ___ ____ __ ___ _____ _______. VG laughs.
As I leave the club, I say to myself: Well, it may never get published, but who cares: the title had Vincent Gallo laughing. (If you, dear reader, wish to know what that title is, simply send me an e-mail.)
PS: Okay, Andrew, I've DONE the thing. So can I have a few weeks' peace now? You know, no rambling messages that fill up my ansaphone until at least, what, the end of July? Also, I've had TWO e-mails from girl-readers of this column since the last time. One of them I already knew, the other scared the f--- out of me by saying that she'd knew who I was, but that I didn't know who she was. What kind of readers you attracting here?
(Picture: Vincent Gallo and Laurence Rémila.)
Laurence Rémila has been living in Paris for six years. A freelance journalist, he writes for sundry serious titles he won't list here, as well as The Idler and French monthly Technikart.