Alison Clement

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

mémoire (masculine), a special use of mémoire (feminine) ‘memory’


This is the way I write it: my sister says she doesn’t remember anything about the Cuban Missile Crisis interrupting our family vacation to Texas or whether we still had the turquoise Thunderbird convertible then or not. Why don’t you write about it? One night in a bar Chuck tells friends the story of when we went to Antigua to set up a printing press for the Antigua Caribbean Liberation Movement and, along with the printing press, we brought a vial of liquid acid. And then Sean says, if you don’t write about this, I will, so I go home and write about it. A woman tells me she’s from Davis, California, and I think about my job picking peaches near there one summer, and I come home and write about making $3.00 a day picking peaches and then ditching it to panhandle in the Tenderloin.

I can’t get interested in writing in chronological order or thematic order or any other kind of order, but instead I follow this random way of doing it. And I can’t seem to say, okay today I’m going to write about the time the guy in the big blue car attacked me. But then I start on something and the other parts come up, the parts I can’t manage straight on, they come in sideways and that’s better.

Categories: Chuck Willer, memoir, travel, work, writing

Tags: , , , , ,

3 replies

  1. Excellent advice for me, Alison. About the writing that is, not the panhandling. That never has worked for me.
    But the sideways entry is of much value. I always write with my head cocked to one side anyway. Merci!

  2. No matter the direction, as long as they come, and as long as you write them. Let the readers sort it out. And we will.


  1. Writing and the Agitation of Memory with Alison Clement | Willamette Writers on the River

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