About Writing and Louis L’Amour

For years, with imperious and quite faux intellectualism, I by-passed the shelves in libraries and bookstores that homed the Western genre. The books on those shelves were akin to the ones packing the Harlequin romance shelves, or so I presumed as I marched by, head held high, to more scholarly selections, until …

One name, one author, in particular began to intrigue me: Louis L’Amour. I was struck, and initially turned off, by the number of books on the shelves by this author. I figured they were all about cowboys and Indians, the written versions of Apache Rifles or Bullet for a Badman. Well, they’re not.

Here’s the short version of how I became acquainted with Mr. L’Amour. First, I always read when I’m at the gym. I have a routine – first thing is to retrieve the book holder, second thing is to mount my machine, and third is to get in gear, start swinging along while reading. This has initiated various conversations relating to ‘what are you reading,” and such. In one of these conversations, a gent mentioned  Mr. L’Amour was one of his favorite authors. By the caliber of his other favorite authors, I began to wonder if my previous assumptions were off. Then  I was discussing books with someone in my online book club, and she too mentioned L’Amour as a very good author, naming two or three specific favorite titles. Wasting no time, I got on Amazon and ordered those titles.

They came, I saw, they conquered!

Louis L’Amour is a compelling writer with numerous passages of profundity about life, and these below, about his craft of writing. These passages are from Fair Blows the Wind.

“You may well ask, if I know so much, why am I not writing successfully … well, I know what should be done, and I can talk well of it. But … I have not the will to persist. I tell myself I shall change, but I do not. I try to hold myself to a schedule, but I am diverted by the flights of fancy in my own mind. I dream of it, want it, talk of it, think of it, but I do not do it. Writing is a lonely business and must be forever so, and I am a social being. I want and need others around me and the loneliness of my room is a hateful thing.”

“My old master… used to say that writing was not only talent, but it was character, the character of the writer. Many are called, he would say, but few are chosen, and it is character that chooses them. In the last analysis, it is persistence that matters.”

It’s writing season for me. Always in late spring, since a girl in high school when I’d lay dreamily on my white chenille bedspread, windows wide open on steamy sultry evenings, the intoxicating scents of honeysuckle and roses bewitching me into writing truly AWFUL poetry!  Ah, though I do view that work with fondness and a certain level of respect (yes, I still have it), it was full of adjectives, superlatives, and drama, just as this passage. It also weighed heavy on the dark side, my way, I suppose, of dispelling the demons that lurked within.

But I DID IT! I wrote, just as I am now. Truth be known, I am not at all a disciplined, organized writer who sets by the day and the clock, X-number of pages punctuated by endless cups of coffee that could hold a spoon upright by the end of the “set” writing period. No, I am a write by the muse sort of writer – one who goes about the business of living until I find a thought, issue, or passion about which I simply must expound. To be honest, I do wish my Muse would stop by and visit more often, but, as they say, it is what it is.


An author, a teacher, a candlestick maker? I am lucky enough to have followed my muse through a most eclectic life of many careers, many interests, and many friends and liasions. Two beautiful children, now grown and one their own, several books -- the penultimate accomplishment dream come true, a hores trainer, a college professor, and a stint in corporate America to validate my feelings that I never, ever want to go there again. So I donned my ruby slippers and dared to take those different paths, those diverging paths, and that has made all the difference! (Thank you, Robert!)

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2 comments on “About Writing and Louis L’Amour
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Judith Shenouda

Author of Living Well in Froggy's World of Plenty: Sweet Talk to Read Aloud; A Bisl of This, A Bisl of That: Eating Our Way; and Career Success in 12 Easy Steps: A Journal; and Owner of Shenouda Associates Inc., Provider of Technical, Marketing, and Business Communications

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