March 2, 2011

Happy Birthday Dr. Seuss

Today is Theodor Geisel’s birthday. However, for those who don't already know, he is better known as Dr. Seuss. I loved reading Dr. Seuss as a child. The Cat in the Hat was one of the first books I remember reading. I loved all the entertaining characters he came up with, The Star Bellied Sneetches, The Lorax, Thing1 and Thing 2, not to mention that he was the first one to draw a Nerd and coin the phrase.

As an adult and especially as a children’s book writer, I admire his tenacity. His first children’s book, And To Think I Saw It On Mulberry Street, was rejected 27 times before it was published. I was quite a bit luckier with my first acceptance. The Soggy Town of Hilltop was the first of my books to receive a contract. It was only rejected 18 times by my records before it finally found a home with Guardian Angel Publishing. It is written in rhyme and I’ve been told that this book shows some Seussian influences. That may have contributed to my story’s success. I do have other work that’s coming close to exceeding Mr. Geisel’s record.

I also admire the fact that he continued to work at his day job in advertising while pursuing his writing career.  He didn’t discard writing and illustrating in favor of what was paying more money at the time. We are all better off for it.

I hold down a day job and struggle to find a way to keep writing despite the demands on my time. I lament how difficult this business is to begin with, and how the economy is just making it worse. But still I keep plugging away, without knowing if anything I do will ever bear fruit. When I look at the cold, hard facts with a rational eye, I’ve come to the conclusion that I must have rocks in my head.

Fortunately, I save rationality and cold, hard facts for my day job. I’m a writer and always have been. It’s what I do and it’s part of who I am. Luckily for me, giants have gone before me doing exactly what I am doing. It helps strengthen my resolve.

So, Happy Birthday Dr. Seuss.  May your books continue to delight and entertain children and adults alike, and may the struggles you faced continue to inspire writers everywhere.

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