Posts Tagged ‘Dr. Seuss’

That should last me the week...

That should last me the week…

Fifty percent of my household didn’t read a single book last year.

That was my husband. Early in our relationship, he eyed the overflowing bookshelves in my apartment and said, “I don’t read.”

“You’re illiterate? I can teach you,” I offered.

“I know HOW to read. I just don’t read books.”

I don’t know how this marriage has survived so long.

I was raised by readers. My sister’s a reader as are all of my closest friends. I’ve carted favorite books thousands of miles, been late countless times because I couldn’t put a good book down, and if given the choice between buying a dinette set or a comfortable chair and a reading lamp, I will eat dinner over the kitchen sink…then go sit in my chair and read. People who don’t read puzzle me.

A recent Pew Center Research Poll shows that 23 percent of adults didn’t read a single book in 2013. That’s up from 16 percent in 1990 and 8 percent in 1978. And according to the National Endowment for the Arts, only 47% of Americans say they read a book for pleasure in 2012.

Books give us knowledge, insight, inspiration, ideas, truths, lies, instructions, humor, emotional release, a chance to dream, an opportunity to escape, a place to go even if it’s just in our heads. Why WOULDN’T you read one?

RIF (Reading is Fundamental) was still a fairly new literacy program in the early 1970’s when I was learning how to read but its message was already solid: knowing how to read was the key to unlocking a world of doors and it wasn’t just a useful skill, it could also be FUN. I believed that as a kid; now as a bigger kid, I still believe it.

Maria Keller does, too. Maria’s a 13-year-old from Minneapolis, MN who founded her own non-profit organization to promote literacy. When she was 8, she started collecting used books and since then, with the help of thousands of people around the country, her organization Read Indeed has given 1 million books to schools, hospitals and community centers in 30 states and more than a dozen foreign countries. What can you say? The kid likes to read.

Anyone can spread the joy of reading. I recently received some literary love from my 9-year-old nephew who said, “Hey, I got you something” and handed me this:

Kid-approved reading material

Kid-approved reading material

It came from his school book fair; I also got a complimentary Minions’ poster and pencil eraser. Did you know that “Bello” is a popular greeting among Minions and that “Poopaye” is how they say goodbye? True that. I read it in a book.

Read any good books lately? Find me on Goodreads and we can compare notes.

The more you read, the more things you will know.
The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go. – Dr. Seuss

I’m no stranger to rejection. I went to a high school that held an annual Sadie Hawkins dance which I attended once in four years. When I graduated from college, I sent out 65 resumes and demo reels and got just two job offers amidst a towering stack of “not interested” letters. And then there was the refused wedding proposal. Oh wait, I guess I was the one who refused. O.K., that one probably doesn’t count. But suffice to say I’ve had some experience with the “Nope, don’t want you” scenario.

My last two writing submissions were both recently rejected, but in different ways and under different circumstances. The first was a flash fiction contest entry. At first I received a cheerful email excitedly informing me that I had made it through the first round eliminations. I was cautiously optimistic; I’d been down this road before. While it was great to make the first cut and still be in the running, I wasn’t popping the champagne cork until I knew for sure I was a winner. Which it turned out, I wasn’t. So I filed the email, drowned my sorrows in a glass of wine instead, and began looking for another place to submit that story.

The second rejection was for a 3,000 word fiction piece I submitted to a literary magazine. I was feeling pretty confident going in: the story flowed the way I wanted it to, my trusty group of readers had given it a thumbs up, I was sure I had hit it out of the park with this one. Turns out, I barely made it out of the batter’s box. I was informed by a one-sentence email that they wouldn’t be able to use my submission for their publication. So the search for a new market began.

While I’m familiar with rejection in many facets of my life, it’s still new to me when it comes to writing. It’s not that I’m such a prolific writer that everything I’ve ever submitted until recently has always been accepted. It’s that for the majority of my writing career, I’ve worked on assignment. Any article or radio commercial or publication I’ve written has been at the direction of someone else or my own idea as an editor. But to put yourself out there and share your original ideas is to open yourself up to rejection and every writer goes through it. Ernest Hemingway, Rudyard Kipling, Stephen King, George Orwell, even Dr. Seuss all weathered rejections before achieving success. And to be in company like that is not such a bad place to be at all.