Saturday, August 24, 2013

Ten Thousand Hours

From: uncouth reflections

"Elmore 'Dutch' Leonard is gone. This news propelled me back to the days when we both worked on the same floor in the vast carpeted halls of the Chevrolet ad agency in the General Motors Building, on West Grand Boulevard in Detroit in the early sixties. He’d be in his office by eight in the morning, bashing away at his typewriter, on pulp Westerns in the dying days of that genre, as I’d later learn. He was on the truck side and I was glorifying Corvettes, so our professional paths never crossed [….]
     Those dime Westerns were Dutch Leonard’s writing apprenticeship, early swings of the pickaxe in the ten-thousand-plus hours of humble exertion that Malcolm Gladwell tells us is the only sure way to master a craft, any craft.
     I’ve always maintained that my all-too-sustained advertising career never taught me a goddam thing about writing, but Dutch would claim that ad copy’s need for compression and simplification (you get in and out fast, so as not to bore or confuse or provoke second thoughts) helped thin out and tighten his prose. The evidence would suggest that he was righter than I was."
— Bruce McCall, The New Yorker
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Buy all of Elmore "Dutch" Leonard's books here...

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