Tag: Dr. Seuss

Fiction Feature—The Town of Aycan

Most of my social media posts this week focused on Dr. Seuss. He was one of my favorite authors as a child, and that hasn’t changed now that I’m an adult. (Maybe I’m just a kid at heart.)

Now, I know there is no emulating the master himself, but in honor of Dr. Seuss (his birthday is March 2, so I’ve devoted the week to him) I’ve written a Seuss-style story for writers. If he’s watching from the great beyond, I hope he takes it in the spirit it was intended—a tribute, not a poor imitation. (I hope you take it that way, too.)

Without further ado…

The Town of Aycan

Each morning I wake in my cold-sheeted bed.dr seuss
I stretch and I struzle, scratch my messy-hair head.

I look out my window at the Land of Aycant,
watch the breeze blow the leaves of each ideaolous plant.

Scrubazou in the shower, comb through my hair,
dress in my casual no-one-cares wear.

I sit with my laptop, stare at the blank screen.
Wonder how to make readers see what I’ve seen.

Words like magnanimous, odoriferous, vile,
capricious, benevolent, svelte, and beguile

tumble and flumble through my overtaxed brain.
But my efforts to use them all end up in vain.

My mind’s all snurf-agled, my thoughts ramble-ringers.
My stories can’t get from my head through my fingers.

That’s life in the frustrating Land of Aycant.
Lots and lots of ideas, but progress is scant.

The ideaolous plants are in full bloom and bud,
but the ideas won’t translate; every draft is a dud.

Why do I stay here? It’s not healthy, not fun.dr seuss
If I leave here posthaste, I can get a lot done.

I glance at the map, plot a courseous course,
and climb on the back of my horsious horse.

He gallops and gimbles and follows my plan,
doesn’t stop till we get to the town of Aycan.

We trot right through the streets to the heart of Town Square.
I clamber off the saddle, rejoice that I’m there.

Open my laptop, start tapping the keys…
Writing my stories is now such a breeze.

Words flow freely, great plotacular plots,
world-building words, character dialogue and thoughts.

All it took was one little attitude fix,
and now I have access to my whole bag of tricks.

When inspiration is gone and you have no worthy plan,
take a successfulous trip to the Town of Aycan.

Rest in Peace, Dr. Seuss. You are missed.

Think Low, Think High, Give a Book a Try

by Staci Troilo

Dr. Seuss quote

Sunday, March 2 is Dr. Seuss Day, and National Read Across America Day, because it’s Dr. Seuss’s birthday. Schools will celebrate today, March 3. What better way to commemorate the birth of an American icon, a man who loved children and learning so much that he devised a method of storytelling using rhyme and nonsense while combining whimsical characters and important themes to teach the basic skills necessary for success?

Fox in SoxI loved reading Dr. Seuss as a child (and having his work read to me). My favorite book was Fox in Sox because I got to try to say all sorts of crazy tongue twisters while seeing what trouble was on the next page. When I had kids, they thought I was amazing because I didn’t stumble over the words in the book. They didn’t realize I’d had decades of practice. But we all delighted when they were able to say the rhymes in the book without error, and I don’t know who was more proud—them or me—when they stopped reciting the words and actually began reading them.

The LoraxAs much as I loved Fox in Sox, my children loved The Lorax. I read that book to them so many times, I could recite it from memory. It was one of the longer Dr. Seuss stories, but I didn’t mind. Not only are all Dr. Seuss stories easy to read, there are few better feelings than having a daughter in one arm and a son in the other, nestled against you under a blanket while you share a beloved story. Some of my best memories of my kids’ childhoods are of when we read together, and I have Dr. Seuss to thank for some of our favorite books.

Dr. Seuss booksWe had quite an extensive children’s library, and when my kids got older, we gave a lot of the books away. Not the Dr. Seuss books, though. My parents read them to me. I read them to my kids. And my kids and I will read them to my grandkids. Some stories never grow old. I just recently became a great-aunt (I’ve always been a great aunt, but now I’m a great-aunt; see the distinction?), and I can’t wait to start reading Dr. Seuss to my great-niece. We start them early in our family, and we start them right.

See, Dr. Seuss is a hero to writers like me because he not only touched our lives as children, but he continues to impact the lives of the next generation of children every day. I often credit my mother for sparking my interest in writing because of the word games she played with me and the books she read to me, and I still do give her that credit, but I also have to point to Dr. Seuss as the author who first influenced me. It was his work that first piqued my interest in books, and there are probably many other authors out there whose love of books began with Dr. Seuss.

Dr. SeussIt’s Read Across America Day. In honor of Theodor Seuss Geisel (Dr. Seuss), I encourage you to read a book to a child, or read a book for your own pleasure. Nothing could honor him more.

How do you plan to celebrate Read Across America Day?

How Dr. Seuss Can Improve Your Writing

Dr. SeussWhen I was a kid, I loved Dr. Seuss. I liked everything he wrote, but my favorite was Fox in Socks. I’ve always been a sucker for tongue twisters, and that fox really had a few zingers. There are still a couple I stumble over.

When I became a parent, I read his collection to my kids. Their favorite was The Lorax. I read it so often, I think I can still quote most, if not all, of it by heart. It has a poignant message, and it was delivered in such a Seussical way, I really don’t mind.

Now my kids think they’re beyond Dr. Seuss, although we still watch The Grinch Who Stole Christmas every winter. So you would think my Seuss days are over. But you’d be wrong. Theodor Geisel wrote about writing, and one of my favorite and inspirational quotes is by him:

So the writer who breeds more words than he needs, is making a chore for the reader who reads.

Yes, it’s another childhood rhyme, but that just makes it easier to remember. And it’s a phrase we writers should take to heart.

How often have you been immersed in a novel only to wonder why the author has spent sentences, paragraphs, even pages describing something when a few words would have sufficed, or even worse, when the information could have been omitted altogether? Poetic phrases have their place, but that place isn’t in a novel. Save the purple prose for the poetry books. Fiction has come a long way since the classics were written. Every word must now have a practical purpose or it must not be allowed to stay in the novel.

Frankly, I’m not sure the effusive description served even the classics well. I swear I read a four-page description of a ladder in Moby Dick before Ishmael ever set foot on the ship. Perhaps Melville could have benefitted from listening to Dr. Seuss. I’m not saying I’m in Melville’s league, but I know I’ve learned a thing or two from Dr. Seuss. I didn’t learn anything from Melville.

If you aren’t into Seuss-style whimsical poetry, take some advice from William Faulkner. “Kill your darlings.”

Words for the Writer to Live By

One of my favorite quotes is:

So the writer who breeds more words than he needs, is making a chore for the reader who reads.

Prolific, huh? Must have been said by one of the greats, like Fitzgerald, or Dickens, or Faulkner. Bronte, or Shakespeare, or Poe.

Nope.

Dr. Seuss.

In my mind, still one of the greats. He wrote for a different audience, but he still touched a lot of minds. And hearts. And that’s all writers really want to do – reach the minds and hearts of their readers. That’s all I really want to do.

And, like Dr. Seuss said, I should do it in as few words as possible so as not to make it difficult for my audience.

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