This might turn out to be one of those posts where you wonder where I’m going but hopefully I have a point at the end. Ho Hum. – So as part of my 16 month old son’s bedtime, either my wife or I read him a few books. Small things, often touch and feel, or ones which involve rhymes or interaction. We figured even doing this now (we started three or four months back) would be a good habit to get him into. With his age, and a not limitless supply of books to hand, there is a bit of repetition, and therefore a warm welcome to anything new, at least by us, if not always by him. A recent addition is “Oh the thinks you can think” by Dr Seuss.
Most Dr Seuss books are for older children, but this one is short and therefore doesn’t require too much attention for a toddler. But, and this shows what an awful cynic I can be, I couldn’t help thinking, I could have written this one. This is book forty (or close), there is an established pattern to the Seuss work, I wondered, did he say, I do not have to try as much? C’mon man, it’s like:
“Hmm, you can think about schlopp, um, what rhymes with schlopp, oh cherry on top. It’s a kids book, they won’t care, I’ll just have it buttered up with some cool looking drawings”.
I am far too much of a cynic aren’t I? Sure we know Dr Seuss is very talented at writing children’s books. You can look up his preferred style with poetry on his wiki page, we all know he is talented and a classic in the field. Given a prompt, I could come up with something similar. Hmm…
And therein lies the genius of Dr Seuss. Not only was he good with structure and making rhymes a child could easily follow, but he was good with the prompt, by which I really mean, the idea. A basic idea mostly, but with a little spin. Individually many of us might be able to work up parts of it, but the whole, the idea, to more ideas, to words, structure and diagrams, is his creative whole. He’s pretty cool.
Tongue firmly in cheek, still the nagging I could do that. Sort of. So I realised that what I’m getting at, is Dr Seuss can also be very inspiring. He shows that with some thought and ideas, and and understanding of basic structure (for what you are trying to create) that it is possible. He shows that if you don’t play it too safe and dangle out there a little further, you may surprise yourself. It still takes effort, you still need to edit and tweak, and rewrite, but if you have an idea think where you can go with it. Most writing really, is just having an idea, and then finding the way to flesh it out. Go read a Dr Seuss book again (even if it is from the shelf in a store), you might be surprised what he can still show you.
Lexicon word of the day: gombeen.