Alison Clement

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

Tag Archive for ‘writing’

100_4179I used to try to get everything just perfect before I moved on in a novel. This is an obsessive/compulsive type impulse and must, I believe, be resisted. For one thing, nothing is ever perfect. This approach is a way to get stuck. It is a way to forget your story, to lose the forest for the sake a tree or, even, a single branch.

resisting perfection

dear diary

I began with a diary. Dear Diary. It was black and shiny and had a key that locked. I’ve kept journals, off and on, since then. During my teens and early twenties, I kept dream journals, too. I once lived with a violent, nonverbal man. When I broke up with him, I collected all the dreams I had had of him, since the first day we met, and bound them […]

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just for saying: Plum

The plums are ripe and summer is over. I am back at work. Chuck has made a studio for me, a room in the back yard near the garden, so I have a place to write. I would rather write about my life than live it. That is a terrible thing to admit. Oh, today is Tuesday already. What happened to Sunday, poetry day on my blog? I am trying […]

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how can it be both?

Doris Lessing says that writers don’t need memoirs or biographies.The writer reveals herself through her writing. She says, for instance, that you can clearly understand Dickens by reading his novels. You can see his different personalities. His novels are a map of who he is. Scott Trurow taught himself to write by studying Dickens. Lessing is always urging us to experience life directly instead of “through a screen of theories, […]

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too poor to be smart

Sometimes people have complained that my characters who are working class are too smart to be working class. This complaint illustrates the very same class bias that I was hoping to illuminate. It made me wonder if I had failed. Also a woman whose husband cheated on her wrote me a heartfelt letter saying that my book completely expressed how she felt. Which made me grateful  but sad. A man […]

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why aren’t you someone else?

  At a reading a man asked why I don’t write YA books and I said that I couldn’t because kids scrutinize you and I wasn’t up to it. Which was so phony. I had read that someplace. Really I didn’t know what to say. I was vaguely aware that he was being sarcastic, and told him the first thing that came to me. Why don’t you write YA books? […]

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> I picked up a copy of Willamette Week at a taco shop in Portland  and what was my first thought  when I saw Willy Vlautin on the cover? Was it way to go, Willy! Nope. Was it can’t wait to read your new book! Or Yay for the Willamette Week for promoting writing!  No, no, no.  I thought, I want to be on the cover of Willamette Week. I […]

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