Alison Clement

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

Tag Archive for ‘writing’

A Sign

I put each chapter on an index card, A plot one color, B plot another. (Didn’t I already do this about 5 years ago??) I thought about how that B plot bumps up against the A plot. Moved the little cards around. Moved them around again. Then moved them one more time, so they were just like they should be. Oh, they are back to where I started. Okay, surely […]

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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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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 […]

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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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Cheese is One Whole Course

I was having a problem with my story.  For one thing it had a terrible title, a title meant to imply that not only was it my character’s last day in Paris, but the final day of her marriage. Which wasn’t the point of the story. The point was not her marriage. It was the man on the bicycle. It was the women at the next table with their elaborate […]

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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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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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