Rejection, Rhyming and Dr. Seuss

Dr. Seuss’s first book, And to Think That I Saw it on Mulberry Street, was rejected 27 times before somebody said “Yes!” His most well-known rejection letter reads, “This is too different from other juveniles on the market to warrant its selling.” And we all know the happily-ever-after ending to his story!

In reading through various agents and editors’ blogs, it seems like nobody wants to publish rhyming picture books these days, but there are loads of them out there, and kids love them.  What’s up with that?  Apparently, there are lots of kids’writers who think they’re really clever at writing in rhyme, but, unfortunately, few of us actually have that gift. Or is it an acquired skill? I found an article recently, by Doria Chaconas, “Icing the Cake, Writing Stories in Rhythm and Rhyme, that’s full of in-depth, almost scientific, pointers about writing in rhyme. Some of it sounds vaguely familiar from my days as an English Lit student…but it’s worth a read.

For some reason, certain stories just start writing themselves in rhyme, weird as that probably sounds unless you’ve experienced it. I like to think I have a good natural sense of rhythm, but maybe I’m wrong.  It’s fun, but finding rhymes and sounding out rhythms can be incredibly frustrating, too. On-line rhyming dictionaries come in handy, and when all else fails, I rearrange the words again and again, or dig up new ones, until I think it works. Oddly enough, the story I’m working on now can be sung to the tune of My Favourite Things – surely that can’t be a bad thing!