Alison Clement

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

art

if I knew how to take advice

I’ve been writing all my life and sometimes I’ve felt bad for doing it too much, and other times I’ve felt bad for doing it too little. Sometimes I’ve felt that my writing is exactly what it needs to be. I mean not that it’s perfect, but it’s mine. When my second novel was published, my agent then told me to next write something like Jennifer Weiner’s GOOD IN BED, […]

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targeted for elimination

  I wrote a novel based on eugenics, but my agent didn’t like it. Once she didn’t like it, I found that I didn’t either. I thought the backstory was more interesting than the front story. I thought the whole section that takes place when the protagonist lives with a male prostitute in New York City was just an excuse for me to write about when I lived with a […]

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the wrong reader

Dense, dreary and boring,  one Amazon reviewer calls WG Sebold’s book, Austerlitz, like it doesn’t occur to him that he might simply be the wrong reader. Like maybe he doesn’t get it. Man Ray says if you don’t like something, turn away, go find something else. Which is hard to do but good to keep in mind. I was walking with Harrison yesterday at dusk, my favorite time of day. […]

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Man Ray

Man Ray once said if you don’t like something, then turn away from it. Just shut up and go to the next thing. I’m paraphrasing. Maybe it wasn’t even Man Ray. The last week of term. Impossible for me to critique one more thing. I read my workshop stories and don’t have one single useful comment. I just want to read the stories, that’s all. I don’t want to ask […]

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The Village of Witches

We went looking for a village of witches. We passed a man with a  machete. A donkey. A sign said go back this is an active volcano but nobody went back. People put up signs that said viva el revolultion which we could read even though our Spanish is bad. Masks hung on walls, on fences, and on houses. We passed sugar cane fields. A man walked along the road […]

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they don’t think at all

I write fiction, but decided instead of doing what I’ve been doing for the past few decades and sort of know how to do, I’d write a screenplay for my MFA thesis. I wanted to do something new, I said, pretending I don’t realize that every piece of writing requires something new. I wanted to watch more movies. Something school has put a damper on. I wanted to study with […]

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But it’s also the face of a real child.

It’s the image I want but it is also the face of a real child. I was looking for images for the Pinterest board I’ve created around my latest manuscript. I collect images for story ideas. I collect images around my books. In this latest as yet unpublished book my character Mavis “was a secret animist” as a child. I searched images for “animist” and found a stunning picture of […]

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it all devolves into self doubt

I’ve been lying on the floor with the dog, Riley, index cards spread out all around us. I’m organizing the scenes of my screenplay. I have to be alone to do this. I talk out loud to myself. I try out different lines of dialogue. The windows are open and the sky is a brilliant blue. I can hear my neighbors. A woman rides by on a motorbike. But I’m […]

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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 […]

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