“Today is your day!
Your mountain is waiting.
So… get on your way!”
My daughter and I were strolling the aisles of the local dollar store, when this little notebook caught my attention. It was leather, and robin’s egg blue and embossed across the front was “Today is your day! Your mountain is waiting. So… get on your way!” with a picture of a creature that could have only been doodled by Dr. Seuss. I couldn’t help but feel this little book held more value than a dollar.
The quote is from Dr. Seuss’s book, Oh the Places You’ll Go!, which oddly enough, was the theme of my high school graduation. It seems Dr. Seuss has been trying to teach me something for a long time.
Dr. Seuss’s writing has always held a special place in my heart, leaving me in awe, at how fun and easy it was to read and yet Dr. Seuss always seemed to effortlessly deliver an image and more often times a message.
When my children were struggling to grasp the depths and complications of the English language while also learning French in a French immersion school, it was breaking my heart how they didn’t seem to enjoy reading. I won a copy of a Dr. Seuss collection, called Your Favorite Seuss. In this collection, his editor and wife share their favorite Seuss stories and tell us all about the author, Theodor (Ted) Giesel or Dr. Seuss.
What I discovered in this collection, was that Dr. Seuss started out writing stories with illustrations to make learning to read fun. The vocabulary in The Cat in the Hat was restricted to 223 words that children would be expected to know while learning to read. Take a fresh look at some of his stories, and it will amaze you how vibrant his characters and how thick his plots—using very few words.
The sun did not shine.
It was too wet to play.
So we sat in the house
All that cold, cold, wet day.
I sat there with Sally.
We sat there, we two.
And I said, “How I wish
We had something to do!” From The Cat in the Hat
What inspired me most, was a comment from his editor, Janet Schulman; “I marvel at how effortless Ted made his writing seem. The words trip off one’s tongue. Few people know how hard he worked—rewriting and rewriting and rewriting—to get the words just right.”
And, speaking of birds,
There’s the Russian Palooski,
Whose headski is redski and belly is blueski.
I’ll get one of them for my Zooski McGrewski. From If I ran the Zoo
Without even knowing who would one day enjoy his work, Dr. Seuss has inspired me to work harder, to dig deeper and to strive to make each sentence and paragraph impactful. This is especially important for me right now, as I polish my third novel to share with an editor. I know when I get my manuscript back, she will have major suggestions for improvement and will ask me delve further into my character motivations and to paint my landscapes with a finer brush, all the while asking me to cut a few thousand words. I also know, that as I embark on a year of heavy querying, I will receive rejections.
I’m sorry to say so
But, sadly it’s true
Can happen to you.
You can get all hung up
In a prickle-ly perch.
And your gang will fly on.
You’ll be left in a Lurch. From Oh the Places You’ll Go
However, in the face of frustrations and rejection, I know there will also be notes of praise for the passages where I got it precisely right, for where I made my editor laugh and cry. I also have conviction, that somewhere, there is my perfect agent and a publisher waiting to put my books on the shelf.
So, as a head nod to Dr. Seuss… I am going to dig in, have faith…
And, will you succeed
Yes! You will, indeed!
(98 and ¾ percent guaranteed.)
KID, YOU’LL MOVE MOUNTAINTS! From Oh the Places You’ll Go
Editing takes effort and querying takes bravery, but my mountain is waiting. Dr. Seuss is telling me to go for it… and so I will.
Thank you Dr. Seuss.