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Please welcome Ashley Ream, debut author of Losing Clementine!

by Ashley Ream

My road to writing Losing Clementine started when my agent, who is smarter than I am about these things, told me to stop writing mysteries. I had, up until then, considered myself a genre writer; although one who had yet to sell anything. She told me my voice was much more suited to literary fiction. Would I please write that? She might as well have asked me to stick my head in a lion’s mouth. It was that terrifying.

But fear alone isn’t a very good reason not to do something, so I sat down and proceeded to write fifty pages of the worst book ever. There was a hippopotamus. The hippopotamus lived in the desert. I wish I were making that up. Every day, I would go to a café in Santa Monica, buy a pot of peppermint tea and write about my hippo. Then one day for no particularly good reason, I opened up a new document and wrote the first scene of Losing Clementine. She jumped onto the page fully formed, and that scene is virtually unchanged in the finished book.

I believe a lot of what I write happens in my subconscious. The ability to access what’s going on in there – a sort of waking dream state – is where novels are born. But there’s a lot of drudgery, too. In order to access those subconscious stories, I have to be in my chair working, working, working. Even if what I’m working on is bad, and I know it’s bad and will never see the light of day. I still have to be there, hands on the keyboard. There’s just no other way to receive the good. Call it a muse if you want. You have to prove yourself worthy of the gift.

It’s the same thing in running, which I do a lot. Sometimes in a race, it’s just your day. You feel like you’re flying. You could do anything, go any distance at any speed. But in order to earn that moment of flow, you have to put in hundreds of 6 a.m. training runs, even when it’s cold and wet and you’d rather be in bed and everything hurts.

Writing Losing Clementine was exactly like that. I put in the work, and then there was flow.