Apparently, his first manuscript, And To Think That I Saw It On Mulberry Street, was turned down by a passel of publishers, and as the story goes, he was heading home to dispose of the manuscript once and for all when he ran into a college acquaintance who worked in publishing. “If I had been walking down the other side of Madison Avenue,” said Geisel, “I’d be in the dry-cleaning business today.”
But I don’t believe that.
Oh, I believe that Geisel made that statement. I just don’t believe he would’ve given up that day. I believe he possibly could’ve gone home and burned his manuscript out of frustration—I mean, what writer hasn’t ripped a manuscript to shreds? (Or deleted an entire file?) But walk away from his stories, never to write again?
Nope. I just can’t see that happening.
Of course, lots of writers quit. It’s too hard, too demanding, too time-consuming, too whatever. But there are just as many writers who don’t quit, who put butt-in-chair to work, or attend conferences to network and learn, who suffer the ignominy of defeat and pick themselves up and try, try again. Because the idea of giving up on that story, walking away from that desire to share a story is out of the question.
That desire propels a writer. Gets her or him up at the crack of dawn to wrangle words, or to sit at the keyboard long after sane people have gone to bed. To revise, rework, resubmit until at last—at long last!—publication arrives!
And To Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street was published after a chance meeting on Madison Avenue. But I’ll bet you dollars to doughnuts that Theodore Geisel would’ve made it someday, no matter which direction he’d been going down that street. He had too many stories that needed writing, needed sharing.
So keep at it! And with apologies to Dr. Seuss, I offer this sentiment from a forever fan (better known and sorta liked as Cathy C. Hall):
Your day is coming, just stick to your plan. If you want to be published, believe that you can. Work hard at your craft; you know you can do it. Write up your stories—put your heart and soul to it! (But look up when you’re walking down any old street. You never know whom you might possibly meet!)
~Cathy C. Hall