“… 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. …” (1982)
Mr. Elmore Leonard, described by the New York Times as a man of few, yet perfect words, offered a few, perfect words of advice to would-be and working writers who worry that they spend too much time alone, too much time staring at a monitor or blank page. According to Leonard, worried writers should set aside those worries and accept the nature of the work: sitting alone, writing, crossing out, rewriting, revising, submitting work for critical examination, and persevering ever.
Writing is not a magical gift denied to the many, granted only to the few by a seductive Muse rarely glimpsed. Writing is earth and fire, water and stone. It is labor like that undertaken by swimmers and runners always trying to beat their own personal best. Writers dig for the right word; they destroy their beloved phrasing if it isn’t right for the character in that place. They drown in possibilities, and by slow drips and dredges, they alter the course of truths told.
Writers despair of finding the right word, but they do not forsake the quest. They doubt that they can nudge the idea of a character into a three-dimensional living, breathing figure. They suspect they will fail to weave together a tale that intrigues, but they must try and try again. The goal is desirable and possible if only they take pleasure in persevering ever.
Read episodes of Justified, noting the few, perfect words inspired by Leonard’s original short story about Raylan or my personal favorite Leonard novel, Get Shorty.
Define writing as you experience it.