Alison Clement

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


>who would have guessed

I thought I couldn’t write here. I thought maybe my writing required a cynical state of mind and I can’t feel cynical here, on the Jalisco Coast of Mexico, but today I wrote three pages of my novel, Finding Rhonda Honey. Last night we went to a drag show here in this little town. The guy from the taco stand was a beautiful woman. Who would have guessed. People brought […]

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>Avoiding the Appearance of Shameless Self Promotion

Regarding the name of my old blog, “Leftedge Suzy.” Okay, my sister says: what the hell does that mean, left edge suzy? She’s from Texas and they are very literal. Also, this is how she said it: wut the hail duz thet me-un? And here is the answer: I don’t want to give the blog my own name because that seems narcissistic, but maybe personal blogs are inherently narcissistic and […]

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>Wordstock, competiton and Margaret Atwood

> This past weekend, I taught a writing workshop for teachers and gave a reading at Portland’s annual book festival, Wordstock—a big, noisy, raucous event. I was lucky to be chosen to read with Cai Emmons from Eugene. I’ve been thinking lately about competition. I’ve been thinking that the worst thing for me, creatively, is when I set myself up next to others, when I scrutinize myself and second guess […]

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>autobiographical Fellini

>When my first book came out I said that it had nothing to do with me. The character was not me. The situation was not mine. The story was in no way autobiographical. Everyone asks that. How much of it is you? Fellini died yesterday, and NPR did a story about him. They said that Fellini’s films were always about him, about his dreams, his childhood, his fears, lovers, obsessions. […]

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>Burying Angel O’Malley

I didn’t know Annalise very well, but when she died, I went to her service. She lived in Beaver Creek, and she grew garlic. I have a picture of her surrounded by long stalks of garlic, with flowers in her hair. When she died I went to her house and cleaned it. Margie from down the road showed up with her tractor and mowed the field that was Annalise’s yard. […]

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>Gardner’s rule of point of view

One of the problems with being self-educated is that when people question me about my writing, sometimes I’m not sure of myself. I mean if they question some specific aspect of it. (Say, point of view, for example.) My first thought is that I missed something. My editor is questioning my use of point of view in my latest manuscript. So I’ve been on a pov mission lately. Reading everything […]

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>Second guessing

I’ve been editing my new book, The Secret Bible Club, which isn’t really about the Bible. I tell the kids that when they write they should make the conscious mind shut up. They should tell it to go away. Later on it can come in and tell them they sound dumb or they forgot a comma or hey, you can’t do that. I’m having a hard time taking my own […]

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>Twenty Questions and the kids at my school

(a question from the blog, Book Lovers Online Guide, courtesy of the Roseville, California Library) The descriptions of the innocence and tenderness of the school children struck me deeply, made me think of my own young children. Is this feeling coming out of your own experience working at a school? For the last ten years, I’ve worked in the library of an elementary school. The school where I work is […]

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