Slogging along on a manuscript or other piece of writing? Taking longer to finish than you expected? Exhausted trying to complete that description, paragraph, sentence, scene, dialogue, or other story element? Mr. Leonard just might have been on to something when it comes to writing.
Elmore Leonard (October 11th, 1925 – August 20th, 2013) was a novelist, short-story writer, and screenwriter. His earliest novels were westerns but he didn’t limit his work to that genre. Among his best-known works are “Get Shorty,” “Out of Sight,” “Hombre,” “Mr. Majestyk,” “Rum Punch” (adapted as the film “Jackie Brown”), and short stories that became the films “3:10 to Yuma” and “The Tall T,” as well as the FX television series, “Justified.”
A longtime friend of mine and an avid reader, Greg Holley, sent me this excellent quote from Carl Sagan on the magic of both reading and writing so I thought I would share it here.
I’m taking a pause (also famously known as procrastination) from writing to post a picture of my flowering clematis.
I planted this three years ago and this spring it has blossomed wonderfully.
In “Storytellin’: True And Fictional Short Stories Of Arkansas” I write about a young boy, a midnight train, and the value of friendship in the tale “He A Friend Of Yours?” The title of the story is actually a question posed to the young boy by a train station employee.
Several of my family provided inspiration for the story not the least of which were my grandfather, father, and an uncle who all worked for the Rock Island Railroad in various capacities including railroad bull, brakeman, and conductor. All of their work began and ended with the Rock Island Rail Road train depot in the small town of Booneville, Arkansas. Not coincidentally, the fictional story’s beginning is set in and around a train depot.
In its heyday, the Booneville depot was a busy, thriving place, bustling with activity. I remember trips to the depot to either welcome or say goodbye to family members as they left for work or arrived after a working absence. More than once, I too, rode the railroad to and from Little Rock to visit uncles and aunts.
This picture of the Booneville train depot was taken in the early 1980s and reflects a mere ghost of itself in comparison to the days when it thrived. Built in 1910 originally as a railroad eating house, the building style is unique compared to the average Rock Island train depot in Arkansas.
The days of riding the rails from Booneville to Little Rock are gone forever now, as are my family members who worked on the line. Sadly, just a few years after this picture was taken the Booneville depot burned down and its stories mostly lost to history.