Don’t quit before you’re done
Sixty years ago, Ted Geisel was challenged to write and illustrate a book for six- and seven-year olds, using only 225 words. Nine months and 500 revisions later, The Cat in the Hat was ready for publication.
The Cat in the Hat actually uses 236 words and is 1629 words in length. Of the 236 words, 221 are words of one syllable. The book was intended to help children learn to read, not by sight reading, but by phonics. Ted Geisel, aka Dr. Seuss (Seuss was Ted Geisel’s middle name) once expressed the opinion that “… killing phonics was one of the greatest causes of illiteracy in the country.” (Quotation taken from Wikipedia)
About those 500 revisions: no doubt it took longer to create a memorable book with the proposed limitation of 225 words. But it has sold over 11 million copies. The lesson to take away from this is that if you want what you are writing to be worth reading, don’t stop halfway to the finish line. Keep on working until you are satisfied that it says exactly what you want it to say, in language that will appeal to its intended audience.
© May 2, 2013 by Bob Goodnough