Elmore Leonard and a writer’s leap of faith

Our writer’s group met last night, only five of us but we had a really good session.  It’s always fascinating to see what twists and turns everyone’s mind takes with a prompt.  I shared a poem that I needed help with editing and another member shared the first two chapters of a novel for feedback.

I also brought an interview that I had read recently on CNN, Grit on Wry: A Dinner with Elmore and Peter Leonard.  I used to be a huge fan of Elmore Leonard, partly because I love a good mystery but mostly because of the humor, I suspect.  My favorite books and movies tend to have a strong element of humor, whatever source it comes from.  It could be jokes with punchlines or simply the gentle humor that comes out of everyday life.  In the article, the author says of Elmore, “He thinks that crooks are dumb, and that dumb is funny.”  I also love the “snappy dialogue,”  what you might call snarky.

A couple other thoughts really stood out in the article for me.  The first was the idea that there are great ideas, strange things, happening every day in real life, just waiting to be worked into a story.  I’ve definitely found that to be true but my strange things don’t tend to run toward the criminal, the way they do for Elmore Leonard. 

The other interesting thought was that at some point, you’ve got to take a chance and make a leap of faith if you’re going to write for a living.  The problem, the way I see it, is that it’s a long leap.  It takes time to write that great American novel.  Then you’ve got to edit it and keep submitting it until someone agrees.  You’ve also got to keep writing in the meantime.  It take a focus and a singularity of purpose that is hard to pull off when you’ve got a family and work demanding your attention, plus needing to build your name for marketing online.  I feel like I need to carve a tiny bit of time out every day just for a novel.  We’ll see if I can do that this week.

In the meantime, I’m still writing for Yahoo! Voices.  Here’s a humorous poem I wrote for Easter based on an incident I’ve heard about many times over the years in our family, The Day the Chocolate Bunnies Died.

 

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