Alison Clement

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

belief

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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not exactly Pinochet, but you know what I mean

an uncomfortably accurate post from my blog dated TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 14, 2010: “not exactly Pinochet, but you know what I mean The photographs of Chileans celebrating in the streets after Allende was elected remind me a little of the pictures of people here, after Obama’s election night.  For a moment, goodness triumphed.  And then it changed again. And then it was worse, more stupid and more cruel, than anyone could […]

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Man Ray and teaching

  I don’t tell my students about my doubts. I don’t say I think school is inferior to what we can learn through following our own curiosity, cultivating our own interests and developing our own course of study. I don’t say I’m convinced that the best way to learn to write isn’t found in the classroom. Read and pay attention. That’s how to learn. Listen to people talk. Find out […]

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to my high school English teacher

Dear Mrs. Gist, I remember when you were my English teacher and encouraged me to read poetry. I remember you took me to a reading competition, and I read a poem by Ferlinghetti. I remember once you assigned us to give show and tells, and I showed how to make a Molotov cocktail, which was an intentionally provocative choice on my part — and you jumped up from your seat in alarm. […]

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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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Frank

Some part of me believed I could still go back there. That somewhere existed my 21 year old self and Frank, that I could go back and see him, go up the stairs to his room, sit by the window where he worked, the window where he watched me.  And I’d say sorry. Or I’d say something other than sorry. I’d say the things that sorry makes unnecessary. I’d say […]

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Harry Finds Out About Mortality

No! He’s not even three yet. There was a dead deer in the river. Why? Why did it die? Why is its head in the water? What happened? Why did it die? He always comes back to that, that fundamental, heartbreaking human question. His mom tells him we don’t know. We die and our bodies go back into the earth and things grow and so we’re part of the life […]

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Also a Sandhill Crane

My yoga teacher moved to Florida. Every few days she posts a photograph on Facebook. While most of my friends post updates on Gaza or Ferguson, on labor efforts, climate change, police brutality, Monsanto, or economics, she posts the image of a bird, flying over the ocean; the sunset; a tree. It’s messy, being alive. It’s never all one way or another. It’s Gaza and Ferguson, and it’s also a […]

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