Do you know the book, Oh The Places You’ll Go! by Dr. Seuss?
I picked it up at a garage sale years ago with a bunch of other kid lit classics- The Cat in the Hat, Goodnight Moon, The Snowy Day, Where the Wild Things Are– when I was pregnant with my first child. For the record, I consider those to be perfect read-alouds, especially WTWTA, and the reason why I don’t feel skilled enough as a writer to attempt a picture book. Trying to distill human experience into its truest form in 300 words or so? Very very hard to do well, and age-appropriately.
Anyway, those books went from my son’s bedroom to my daughter’s bedroom, and she is just about grown out of them now but I’ll probably keep them for the memories they bring back, and for any young kids who might come a-visiting.
Is there anything better than reading to a child tucked onto a lap or under an arm?
Oh the Places You’ll Go is a little different. It lives on my sitting room bookshelf, and I read it for myself, frequently, as an emotional panacea. I think of it as a self-help book. A reminder to myself that a lot of life consists of waiting for something to happen.
Perhaps this state feels more acute and agonizing to a writer. I don’t know. I do know that we work, squirreled away mostly, on our own, and then we send our work out and then we wait.
I usually try and start work on something else so that I don’t brood. But I’ve written a few manuscripts in the last twelve months or so, and even though I have a pretty good idea for a new one, I don’t want to rush it. I want to be fresh when I go in, so right now, I am letting the idea take root, lengthen and strengthen, grow a little in my head.
…You’ll start in to race
down long wiggled roads at a break-necking pace
and grind on for miles across weirdish wild space
headed, I fear, toward a most useless place.
The Waiting Place…
…waiting around for Friday night
or waiting, perhaps, for their Uncle Jake
or a pot to boil, or a Better Break,
or a string of pearls, or a pair of pants
or a wig with curls, or Another Chance.
Or a book to sell…
I think it’s the break-necking pace of getting a story down and revised and polished, followed by the days when nothing seems to happen at all.The dichotomy of this is hard to take but such is life, eh?
Dr. Seuss goes on to say that although waiting might seem interminable it does end eventually. Basically you just have to tough it out.
Sometimes I need a reminder in stoicism. Sometimes I need to open my arms to stubborn optimism. And think in terms of years rather than days.
There are certain times when it feels as if no one is around.The phone is silent, the internet is quiet, except for the Kardashians and royal families. But where are the people whose lives intersect a little with mine? Perhaps they are all in the waiting place too?