Green Eggs and Inspiration

Wednesday, August 05, 2015
I haven’t yet read What Pet Should I Get? by one of my all-time favorite authors, Theodore Geisel (better known and loved as Dr. Seuss), but I’ve read plenty about the book, and I think what struck me most was this little tidbit about Geisel:

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!

Geisel’s subversive story-telling is as fresh today as it was back in 1937. Yep, in 1937 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


Sioux Roslawski said...

That little ditty at the end sounds so Suess-like. Are you sure you and Dr. Suess didn't work together, or have something going on between the two of you? ;)

Yeah, fate does sometimes rear its head to save the day or bolster spirits. But persistence and perseverance (along with buckets of brilliant talent) go a long way.

Thanks for the post, Cathy. Perhaps we should make a habit of criss-crossing the street, back and forth? We never know who we might run into... we never know what encounter will change our lives forever.

Cathy C. Hall said...

Absolutely, Sioux! Come to Atlanta and we'll walk the streets!

Um, you know, that sounded way better before I actually wrote it down...:-)

Sioux Roslawski said...

Streetwalkers? My writing is not bringing in piles of cash, but I don't think me--in fishnet stockings, a mini skirt and a crop top--would bring in much money either. ;)

Linda O'Connell said...

Dr. Seuss knew how to toy with language, and kids of all ages loved him. Your wise poem would do him proud. You two in cahoots?

Margo Dill said...

I think we could just call you--Dr. Hall. :)

Unknown said...

I love hearing synchronicity stories like this. But I'm with you, Cathy. The good Dr. Seuss may have discarded that one manuscript, but I seriously doubt he would have ended up doing dry cleaning.

Loved your ending -- very inspiring and oh so Seussical!

Lisa Ricard Claro said...

First, that poem is brilliant. Second, I had never heard the dry cleaning story, but it makes a good point. And third, you reminded me of something said at conference a couple years ago regarding how hard it is to hang tough and keep working, keeping trying, even in the face of rejection---the speaker said maybe all those road blocks are there to stop the people who don't want it as badly as you do. Because it IS easier to quit, and so many do. As the saying goes, if it were easy, everyone would be able to do it. I think one of the biggest mistakes people make is to quit too soon. Because as you and Seuss pointed out, you never know who is walking on your side of the street.

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