Alison Clement

observations from a novelist who sometimes wants to say something small and see it published immediately

Three Queens

I’ve begun my young adult novel yet again. How many ways can I write the same story?  It was going to be my simple story, the one I wrote quickly, for fun. Oh, and my agent thought it would sell. Let’s be honest. The first version was disturbingly similar to the movie, The Sixth Sense. Something I didn’t notice until I had completed it. I went back and watched that movie again after someone pointed it out. I had taken the kitchen scene almost verbatim which made me wonder about myself. How much of what I think or imagine is my own? I rewrote the whole novel. I changed everything. I wrote it one way and I wrote it another. It is set in Portland. The protagonist is a sixteen year old girl whose mother died the previous year. My characters always have mother issues, but I don’t. I have a perfectly good mother. My characters have mothers who die or run off, who get arrested, who abandon them.

I am searching for the perfect coffeehouse in Corvallis, Oregon. I do like Market of Choice. MOC has comfortable chairs, is warm, serves Stumptown coffee. Today I am at Interzone, the hip coffeehouse near campus. It also has good coffee. Interzone is not a very good place for me to write because the music is sometimes discordant and it is not warm. Interzone has interesting art on its walls. There are tables outside but it is December and it will be a long time before we can sit out there. When I went to Paris I imagined I’d sit in coffeehouses but it was not so easy to do that. My German friend Maria took me to the coffeehouse where Sarte used to hang out but a cup of coffee cost $15 so I just took a picture of a man with a dog and left. So anyway when I tell myself that in Paris I would find a perfectly good coffee house, it is a lie. Oh, now Interzone is playing jazz and that is much more conducive to early mornings. A trumpet. Piano.

I can’t settle on my protagnonist’s name. Sometimes she is Frieda but other times she is Sophie. She was also Edie, briefly. Some writers say that the inability to decide on a name means the story itself is half baked but my story is not half baked. I just can’t seem to figure out how to tell it.

Yesterday I read Crystal’s Tarot cards and her ultimate outcome was three queens. Is it a violation of confidentiality to say that?

Does anyone else wonder about the Celtic Cross position “hopes and fears?” Waite’s book says “hopes or fears,” which has a different meaning entirely. Less interesting but more simple to interpret.

A woman with a bright pink umbrella walks down the street. It is late December and the students are gone.

I’m reading On the Natural History of Destruction by WG Sebold about Germany after the war, the terrible destruction of it cities and how no one talked about it. Even the Germans themselves did not seem to comment. German writers did not write about it. My mother’s family was from Aachen which was destroyed. They were from Auchen, Alsace Lorraine and County Kildare.

I’m reading Hemingway for class.

Years ago Chuck’s great aunts hired a genealogist but when the genealogist found out they were Jewish, the aunts had the research stopped. I have looked for what that genealogist found but haven’t been able to discover it. Chuck’s family is from Poland, Ireland, Normandy and Visingso. His grandmother was Swedish but she was the opposite of the characters in an Ingmar Bergman film. Her comment on almost everything, “Oh, it don’t matter.”

Categories: art, belief, books, class, Fascism, Oregon, politics, reading, writing, YA books

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

2 replies

  1. Alison,

    Actually, MOC is owned by a nice man who lives and works in Eugene. He’s involved in local politics, too, in small ways. Yes, MOC is a chain and a very successful one, but it’s a family-owned chain, and they treat their employees well. The man who “invented” video stores in Eugene, Dave, and his wife now work at one of the MOC’s here in Eugene, where I shop. Dave’s a good man–he wouldn’t work there if it were a rip.

    I love MOC, but not to sit and write, which I don’t do much of anyway, but to get good groceries and good service from good people. It’s worth your support.

    She’s right: It don’t matter…


  2. Thank you for setting me straight, Thom. I am full of shit sometimes. Now I am going to go back and change what I wrote and your comment won’t make sense, but you will forgive me.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s