OK, so I know, I am shamelessly stealing from Dr. Seuss, but I do so for a reason. Allow to me to explain.
I had dinner this weekend with a couple of friends from my writer’s group. One of the girls, whom I haven’t seen in a while, brought a friend with her. Her friend, an artist and a writer, asked me what inspired me to be a writer. Her seriousness and intensity made me realize that my usual casual answer would not suffice and I found myself telling her a truth I do not often admit.
I have thought about writing most of my life. I just never had the confidence in myself to be able to take that desire seriously. OK, maybe I didn’t actually admit the second part quite so readily, but the more I thought about it, the more I recognized there was some truth in it.
Another thing happened this weekend that also started me thinking.
My niece’s birthday is next week. I have been shopping for presents for her. I always look at books in addition to toys and clothes. I look at the traditional “The Velvetine Rabbit,” or books with a lesson like, “The Giving Tree.” But my favorite books that I return to time and time again are the books by Dr. Seuss.
“The Cat in the Hat” is a favorite classic. “The Grinch Who Stole Christmas” is another. And my all-time favorite is “Green Eggs and Ham” which I am slightly embarrased to admit, I can still quote from memory long stanza’s of the book without pause.
But the book that inspired my love of reading and writing is a book about a boy who allowed his imagination to run wild inventing a tale of what he saw on his way home from school. It was the first book Dr. Seuss published, “And to Think That I Saw it on Mulberry Street.”
I love Dr. Seuss’ use of language and poetry in this book. He allows the child to combine the ridiculous with the mundane. The boy uses his own imagination to fix the problems in his story. His descriptions are as imaginative as they are silly. And the young boy’s excitement of telling a story to his father that can’t be beat is palatable.
At the end of the story, the boy arrives home, ready to tell his father the tale he cooked up on the way home and his father asks him about what he saw ont he way home. He asks, “Did nothing exicite you or make your heart beat?”
And here, in the young child’s response, I find my answer. An answer that belies its own simplicity only hinting at the excitement and depth of imaginative creativity revealed just a page ago…
“Nothing, but a plain horse and wagon on Mulberry Street.”