“At first I wasn’t sure at all where to begin.”
Opening line in the novel Hombre, written by Elmore Leonard
“When I wrote 3:10 to Yuma. I sold the original [short] story for $90, and then got $4,000 for the movie rights.”
(Leonard did add that “a 5,000 word story was a hundred bucks. And in the early ’50s, that wasn’t bad.”)
“Bewteen 1951 and 1961, Elmore wrote 30 western short-stories and five western novels, even as he made his main living with advertising work.”
WGAW Written by article Dutch Landscape
“In 1961, Leonard quit his job at the ad agency to write full time. The western fiction market had dried up because of a plethora of westerns on television and he wanted to write contemporary stories. But the demands of a growing family required him to take freelance advertising jobs instead. After five years away from writing fiction, Leonard finished his first non-Western novel, The Big Bounce, buoyed by the sale of film rights to his novel Hombre. His Hollywood agent, the legendary H. N. Swanson read it and told him, ‘Kiddo, I’m going to make you rich.'”
Biography on ElmoreLeonard.com
“Elmore’s first crime book, The Big Bounce, was rejected 84 times.”
Ann O’Neill, The CNN Profile
But The Big Bounce got published and eventually made into a movie in 1969 which Leonard said ,”Was probably the second worse movie ever made.” The worst movie? According to Leonard, the 2004 version of The Big Bounce. But artists aren’t defined by their failures, but by their successes.
“One remarkable thing about Leonard’s talent is how long it took the world to notice. He didn’t have a best-seller until his 60th year, and few critics took him seriously before the 1990s.”
Mike Householder, Time Magazine
P.S. Since I’m into regionalism, it’s worth noting that two writers that Leonard admired both had ties to Leonard’s Michigan:
Writer Jim Harrison (Part 1) The writer of Legends of the Fall was born in Grayling, MI and partly raised in Reed City, MI.
Writing Quite #24 (Elmore Leonard) Hemingway much spent time in Michigan and one of his first published stories was Up in Michigan.
Starting Your Screenplay (Tip #6)
The Breakfast Club for Writers (Starting early in the morning before a day job didn’t hurt Leonard.)