Alison Clement

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

films

unless it’s cancer, or something

I just lay in bed and think about my body. All the ways it hurts. I dream about words. When you are sick with the flu, it isn’t the time to watch a documentary on HIV. In my dream I am writing my thesis, but I’m not sure what my thesis is and anyway I thought I already got my degree. When you are sick with the flu, it’s a […]

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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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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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as if simple pleasure is not enough

I like detective stories. Henning Mankell says that character is revealed in moments of crime, or something like that, and he uses his detective novels, many of which are also films, to talk about politics, too. Which makes me feel better about it, as if simple pleasure is not enough. I’ve watched all the Scandinavian crime TV shows on Netflix. The cops hardly ever carry guns. Fat old cops chase […]

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must read more Chekov, for one thing

   I am looking again at my manuscript which Jessica said is too “dark,” a complaint I can’t understand. And I am thinking of how to edit a short piece I wrote which was inspired by Walter Pater’s Child in the House, but I wonder if it’s too obscure. I want to rewrite my unpublished novel, The Only Home I Have, so that all the minor characters don’t seem like […]

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Little Bird

The structure … is always the story of how the birds came home to roost.    –Arthur Miller I’ve been watching Henning Mankell’s Kurt Wallender series.  I like crime movies. but I don’t like to dwell on the crime, which is what American crime movies usually do, as if the crime is what’s interesting. I went to see The Life of Pi, even though I don’t like movies or books that […]

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we are not zombies

When we questioned the District Attorney about the decision to use a SWAT team that night, a “small army,” as one of the journalists characterized it, the DA said that overwhelming force generally encourages submission. Research shows that, he said. At one time, not too long ago, a SWAT team was called in only in rare cases: when hostages had been taken or if there was a mass shooting, but […]

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the short story

I thought of a short story last night while I did the dishes and it was all whole in my mind but then I worked on math, watched an episode of Twin Peaks, drank a glass of wine, read a little of Henry James and went to sleep and now I haven’t the slightest idea about that story, even though, at the  time, is was complete in my mind.

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and then she winked

I’m on page 82 of my revision, but I’m not in the mood of the novel. Sometimes I can listen to music and get in a mood that way. Frieda decides to run away from home. What song would it be? On the radio this morning an actor described making a film about the rape of Nanking. He worried because the actresses were required to cry so much and he […]

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