Hard Work and a Library Card . . .
An overnight success, sixty years in the making!
His was a middle class family. He grew up in an idyllic small town. His elder sisters and brothers got good educations, some went on to prestigious careers.
But Louis was the last of seven children. By the time of his childhood it was a struggle to hang on financially. His father was a veterinarian. When steam and gas engines began to replace horses, Dr. L. C. Lamoore went into the tractor business following the harvest through the Dakotas and into Canada.
When truly hard times came what was left of the Lamoore family took what they could carry and set out in their old touring car. They lived on the road, in tents and Auto Courts for eight years, finally settling in Oklahoma, a place that many were fleeing from, in the early 1930s.
Louis had to leave school half way through tenth grade, from then on he worked as a manual laborer. In his youth he learned to be a boxer. Fighting taught him more important lessons than how to throw a punch. You have to adapt. You have to go the distance. And if you lose focus you will get hit.
On the road, in lumber and mining camps, in ship’s fo’c’sles and rail yards he read books to educate himself. When he couldn’t afford to buy them, he would spend most of his waking hours in the library. He refused to be uneducated and he knew that he would die poor if he didn’t learn. He studied and worked to reinvent himself. He became Louis L’Amour.
In the 1930s he began to write, it was the only thing he was any good at.
He failed for years.
Finally he had a few small successes but this was interrupted by WWII. After the war he moved to LA and set out to write more every year than he had written in all of the time before the war. A story a week.
In the early 1950s the pulp magazines died. He nearly starved. A lucky break allowed him the chance to break into writing paperbacks, but until he was forty-six years old he had never had better than a one room apartment.
He struggled on as a middle class family man. He was a mid list slugger, but to maintain that position meant writing three to four novels each year. Every book contained the possibility of failure. However, by the time he was in his late sixties it was clear something remarkable had happened; none of his books had gone out of print. The critical mass of work was slowly making him wealthy. By the time he was seventy-two he had sold one hundred million copies, though many were at very low prices. The pace accelerated more rapidly. By the time of his death, at eighty, he had sold over two hundred million books.
Louis L’Amour educated himself to be a writer. He never stopped working, never stopped moving, never stopped reinventing himself and he never let go of his dream. If he could do it, you can too.
Here is a list of the books he read.
Discover Louis L’Amour’s Lost Treasures, a project created to release some of the author’s more unconventional manuscripts from the family archives. Beau L’Amour takes you on a guided tour through many of the finished and unfinished short stories, unfinished novels, treatments, notes and outlines that his father was never able to publish during his lifetime. These books reveal the unexpected dreams and unrealized aspirations of one of the most prolific writers of the 20th Century.