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Monday, August 26, 2013

Elmore Leonard

"The writer has to have patience, the perseverance to just sit there alone and grind it out. And if it’s not worth doing that, then he doesn’t want to write."

Elmore Leonard
American Novelist / Screenwriter
1925 - 2013

Creative leaders need to be patient.  No one is born with writing skills or artistic skills.  These have to be learned which does not and will not happen overnight.  For some of us it takes years and for others we may never perfect our craft.   Beginning writers often ask their teachers and mentors whether they have talent.  They are asking the wrong question.  They should be asking:  do I have the patience to learn this craft.  Do I have the persistence to keep going when everything and every person is telling me to quit?

Writing and painting are not easy.  Are you willing to sit in front of a blank page or a blank canvas waiting for your muse to show up and inspire you?  Are you willing to write and rewrite until your brain is numb?  Are you willing to spend long hours working while your friends are out partying and having fun?  Are you willing to spend difficult hours creating something that you may never be able to sell or able to make any money off your labor?

The creative arts are only for the strong of spirit — those who are able to sacrifice the rewards of the moment for the possibility of opportunity sometime in the future.  The creative arts are only for those who are driven by some demon deep inside — for those who are unable to stop creating even in the face of a hostile world.

Creative Practice
Answer this question truthfully:  If I knew now that I would never be rich, famous or successful in my lifetime, would I still create?

Born in New Orleans, Leonard was the son of Flora Amelia and Elmore John Leonard, a General Motors executive.  The family lived in several places because of Leonard Sr's job.  They finally settle in Detroit in 1934.  Elmore Leonard, Jr. graduated from both high school and college in Detroit with a degree in English and philosophy.  Elmore spent 3 years in navy at the end of World War II.

Leonard's first job after college was as a copywriter for an ad agency.  He wrote stories and novels on the side, publishing his first story in 1951 in the Argosy.  He wrote westerns, mysteries and crime novels.  His short stories and novels have been turned into movies, such as Hombre, Get Shorty, Killshot and Freaky Deaky .

Here is Elmore Leonard discussing the story writing process.