Where there is a will there is a way

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Article on Dr. Seuss

I am fascinated by Dr. Seuss. He is a huge role model for me. I am most curious about his creative process. The Lorax is the work of a genius-- even if that genius did have to work at it.

Here is a quote from an article about him, from a December 1979 issue of Palm Springs Life when he was the age of 75:
(Found at http://www.palmspringslife.com/Palm-Springs-Life/December-1979/Dr-Seuss-We-Love-Youse/

All his writing is painfully hard. In the trade he is classified in the bleeder category, agonizing over every syllable. He dodges the obvious question, "Which comes first, the drawing or the writing?" One seems to challenge the other. An obsk should look like an obsk, if not, to the guillotine. Apparently "Judge Seuss" makes the right decisions for the text and drawings are happily compatible.

"Each book takes about a year," he says. "I put my working drawings on my study wall, work on something else, and eventually as I pass by I detect what's wrong. But the best thing to do is to go to Africa."

He means it. He was stuck on The Lorax. His wife Audrey said, "Forget it. Let's go to Africa." They did. When he was sitting by a pool looking at a mountain about a quarter of a mile away, over the rise came a herd of elephants and, with spontaneous combustion, The Lorax fell into place.

"The only piece of paper I had at hand was a laundry list, but I used it to outline the book. The structure was there. It had nothing to do with the elephants as such. The scene just triggered the plot. The logjam was broken. I've tried to do it since but it hasn't worked. Perhaps the clue is complete relaxation to let the subconscious in."

He pooh-poohs the word "genius" when applied to him, saying, "If I were, I wouldn't have to work so darn hard."

1 comment:

Elizabeth said...

I love Dr. Seuss and good to see Africa inspired him!