Monday, December 6, 2010

I Had Trouble in Getting to Brooklyn, It's True

Mad props, as always, to my fabulous co-writer, Dr. Seuss. An absolute pleasure to work with, I must say.

I Had Trouble in Getting to Brooklyn, It’s True

I was real happy and carefree and young
And I always wrote stories using the theories of Jung
And nothing, not anything ever went wrong
Until… well, one day I was writing along
And I guess I got careless. I guess I got messing
With adverbs, not seeing what I was stressing

And that’s how it started.
Zot! What a shot!
I stubbed my big brain
On a very hard plot
And I flopped in the chair
(Oh so, so, so pale)
And I sprained the main bone
In the tip of my tail!

Now, I never had ever had
Troubles before.
So I said to myself,
“I don’t want any more.
If I watch out for plots
With my eyes straight ahead,
I’ll keep out of trouble
Forever,” I said.

But, watching ahead…
Well, it just didn’t work.
I was watching those plots. Then I felt a hard jerk.
The complete lack of an opening hook
Sneaked up from in back and went after my book!

And I learned there are troubles
Of more than one kind.
Some come from ahead
And some come from behind.

So I said to myself, “Now, I’ll just have to start
To be twice as careful and be twice as smart.
I’ll watch out for trouble in the front and back sections
By aiming my eyeballs in different directions.

I found this to be
Quite a difficult stunt,
But now I was safe
Both in back and in front.

Then NEW troubles came!
From above!
And below!
Point of view at my neck!
Punctuation down low!
And now I was really in trouble, you know.
The plots! And the hook!
They all need a shrink!
I had so many troubles, I just couldn’t think!

There I was,
All completely surrounded by trouble,
When a chap stumbled up all covered in stubble.
“Young fellow,” he said, “what has happened to you
Has happened to me and to other scribes, too.
So I’ll tell you what I have decided to do…
I’m off to the city of Brooklyn, it’s true,
Where they make beautiful books, red, white and bright blue,
And they never have troubles! At least, very few.

“It is not very far.
And my Volvo is strong.
It’ll get us there fast.
So hop in! Come along!”

I jumped in beside him. Then all through that day
The Volvo rolled on in a Volvo-ish way.
The road got more bumpy, more rocky, more tricky.
By midnight, I tell you, my stomach felt icky.
And so I said, “Mister, please, when do we get
To that wonderful town? Aren’t we almost there yet?”
“Young fellow,” he told me, “don’t start in to stew.
At sunrise, we’ll drive into Brooklyn, it’s true.
And you’ll have no more troubles. I promise, I do.”

But, when dawn finally came and the darkness got light,
That wonderful city was nowhere in sight.
Instead of the city, we ran into trouble.
The manuscript got sick and it started to bubble.
Fearing contagion, “Out! Out!” said the man with the stubble.
So there, there I was in a dreadful position.
My book sure needed a bookish physician.

Now, doctors for books are not often seen.
Especially on roadsides. They’re far, far between.
But I pulled that old book and set out to find
Some doctor, while dragging my hopes out behind.

I pulled, pulled and pulled. Then the next thing I knew,
I was pulling the book and a long sequel tome, too!
“Now, really!” I thought, “this is rather unfair.
It’s hard to sell one, and worse for a pair.”

“This is called teamwork,” said Shelton B. Faking,
“I’m an agent, I swear, and you’re a star in the making!
I’ll pick the best roads, tell you just where to go
And we’ll find a good doctor more quickly, you know.
I’ll just take your last paycheck, whatever you’ve brung.”
And he bossed me around just because I was young.
He told me write big. Then he told me write small.
And that’s what he told me all spring and all fall.

Next winter we located Dr. Sam Snell,
Who knew all about thrillers and cozies as well.
Our manuscript, he said, had a bad case of leaks
And should be edited at Bread Loaf for at least twenty weeks.

I was tired. How I wanted to crawl back in bed!
But the book doctor sent me away and he said,
“Your troubles are practically all at an end.
Just run down that hill and around the next bend
And you’ll come to the happy MFA, my good friend.
The Iowa Workshop leaves at 4:42
And will take you directly to Brooklyn, it’s true,
Where they make beautiful books, red, white and bright blue,
And they never have troubles. At least, very few.”

The workshop was there. And that part was just fine.
But tacked on a stick was a very small sign
Saying, “Notice to writers perusing our fame
We are sorry to say that our teacher, the blighter,
Just won a pullitzer and spurned all his new writers.
So, until further notice, the workshop (don’t sue!)
Cannot possibly take you to Brooklyn, it’s true…

But I wish you a most pleasant journey by query.
Iowa President, Horace B. Wary
So I went on by query, thanks to Horace P. Wary.
And that Horace B. Wary almost ruined my query!

A hundred Nays later
My heart was so sore!
THEN, wouldn’t you know it!
It started to pour!

I was critiqued to the skin (with a red pen just mark it!)
When a fellow washed up with the Publisher’s Market!
The Publisher’s Market came early this once,
“But offers no hope to us writers, you dunce!
Any fool would get out! So I’ve packed up my things
And I’m off to my granddaddy’s, out in Palm Springs.
Take cover!” he yelled. “Use my book if you wish!”
Then he grabbed up his bottle and drank like a fish.

I ran in the house and I fell in a heap.
I needed my rest, but I just couldn’t sleep.
Did you ever sleep, when your words were like ice?
And your story was about three owls and a gay cockatrice?
I listened all night to the growls and the yowls,
The chattering teeth of four fiendish fowls,
Thoughts of the Publisher’s Market churning my bowels.
I tossed and I flipped and I flopped and I flepped.
It was quarter past five when I finally slept.

Then I dreamed I was sleeping on billowy billows
Of soft silk and satin bestseller-stuffed pillows.
I dreamed I was sleeping in Brooklyn, it’s true,
Where they make beautiful books, red, white and bright blue,
And they never have troubles. At least, very few.

Then I woke up
And it just wasn’t true.
I was crashing downhill in flame war and flood
My email light blinking and mouth full of crud.
“That’s my story you’ve stolen,” came the bright shiny howls,
“of a gay cockatrice and three charming white owls!”
And I said to myself, “Now I really don’t see
Why troubles like this have to happen to me!”

I blogged for twelve days without toothpaste or soap.
I practically, almost had given up hope
When someone online shouted, “Here! Use this trope!”
Then I knew that my troubles had come to an end.
And I typed out that trope, calling, “Thank you, my friend!”

I went to hit send. But it wasn’t a friend.
And I saw that my troubles were not at an end.
A long email with ALLCAPS scared me out of my wits.
It bellowed “Us writers are going on a self-publishing blitz!

“There’s a war going on! And it’s time that you knew
Every scribe in this land has his duty to do.
We’re marching to battle. We need you, my boy.
We’re about to attack, we’re about to destroy
The Perilous Publisher of Pompelmoose Pass!
So, get into line! You’re a Private, First Class!”

They gave me a pencil
And one little lead,
Which was not very much,
If you see what I said.

Then they yelled, “Get that Publisher! Attack without fear!
The glorious moment of victory is near!”
And the glorious novelists led the advance
With a glorious swish of their pens in a trance
All while wearing old pajama-plaid pants.

Then we charged round a corner and found that, alas,
There was more than one Publisher in Pompelmoose Pass!
And the self-publishing email shouted out to the men,
“This happens in war every now and again.
Sometimes you are winners. Some times you are losers.
We never can win against so many book choosers
And so I suggest that it’s time to retreat!”
And the writers raced off on their pajama clad feet.

There I was!
With more angry Publishers than I’d ever seen!
There I was!
With one little pencil and too little green spleen!
There I was!
And I thought, “Will I ever get through
To the wonderful city of Brooklyn, so true,
Where they make beautiful books, red, white and bright blue,
And they never have troubles, at least very few?

I had terrible trouble in keeping up face
Then I saw a big sign that sang out “Create Space!”
I didn’t have time to find out what that meant,
But the sign had a link. And the link’s where I went.

Well… that link where I went
Was a sort of a funnel
That led me down into
A frightful black tunnel.
The traffic down there
Was a mess, I must say,
With billions of books
Written all the wrong way.
They bumped me with bios,
And banged me with fan fiction.
I ran into thrillers
With all sorts of bad diction.
I skidded on verbiage
And fell on some porn.
Troubles! I wished
I had never been born!

I was down there three days in that book-filled-up place.
At least eight thousand times, I fell smack on my face.
I injured three chapters, my prologue and climax,
My action got sloppy and so did my syntax.
What’s more, I was starved. I had nothing to read.
My eyes were all swelled up and started to bleed.

Then, just when I thought I could stand it no more,
By chance I discovered a tiny trap door!
I popped my head out. The great sky was sky-blue
And I knew, from the authors, I’d finally come through
To a place where they make books, red, white and bright blue,
I couldn’t be far, now, from Brooklyn, it’s true!

There it was! With its glittering towers in the air!
I’d made it! I’d done it! At last I was there!
And I knew that I’d left all my troubles behind
When a chap in a suit that shimmered and shined
Waved me a wave that was friendly and kind.

“Welcome!” he said as he gave me his hand.
“Welcome, my son, to this beautiful land.
Welcome to sweet, sunny Brooklyn, so blue,
Where they never have troubles.
At least very few.
As a matter of fact, they have only just one.
Imagine! Just one little trouble, my son.
And this one little trouble,
As you will now find,
Is this one little trouble they have with our kind…

“For there’s only one room left to rent, yes it’s true,
And the price is too high for our likes, me and you.
They left me a notice right here on the floor
Evicting me last Tuesday at quarter to four.
Since then, I can’t open this door any more!
And I can’t burn the notice. It’s very bad luck
To burn any notice, and that’s why we’re stuck
And why no one gets in and the town’s gone to pot.
It’s a terrible state of affairs, is it not!

“And so,” said the writer from Brooklyn, so blue,
“My job as a novelist is finished. I’m through!
And I’ll tell you what I have decided to do…

“I’m leaving,” he said, “leaving Brooklyn, it’s true,
Where they make beautiful books, red white and bright blue,
And they never have troubles, at least very few.
And I’m off to the City of Angels, so tall,
Where they never have troubles! No troubles at all!
Come on along with me,” he said as he ran,
“And you’ll never have any more troubles, young man!”

I’d have no more troubles…
That’s what the man said.

So I started to go.
But I didn’t.
I did some quick thinking
Inside of my head.

Then I started a new novel
No owls -- one, two, three…
I know I’ll have troubles
But now I’ll be free.
I’ll always have troubles.
I’ll, maybe, get bit
By porous plot holes
On the place where I sit.

But I’ve bought a new moleskin.
I’m all ready, you see.
Now my troubles are going
To have troubles with me!


Matthew Rush said...

Whoa. I'll have to come back for this.

Matthew Rush said...

Wow, well I can't say I have any idea what the point of all this is ... but it was certainly the most fun I've had all week!

Bryan Russell (Ink) said...

Ha! At least someone read it. :)

Adele Richards said...

I read it too! Loved it! :-)

'The Volvo drove in a Volvo-ish way' haha! Fun!

Matthew Rush said...

Yeah, I have to admit the length scared me off at first. But poetry, or even hilarious rhyme, always looks longer than it really is.

I love that you used this format to express yourself about ...

Susan Kaye Quinn said...


three owls and a gay cockatrice?

With a glorious swish of their pens in a trance
All while wearing old pajama-plaid pants.

I skidded on verbiage
And fell on some porn.

Land sakes, I can't decide which line I like best. There's too much Seussian goodness here. :)

(never mind that my favorite lines have the words gay and porn. Really. There's no connection there.)

The best part is the finish, though.

Now my troubles are going
To have troubles with me!

Scrappy attitude befitting a Seuss like tilt on life! :)

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Now all you need is an illustrator!
Coming over from Matthew's blog to say hello.

Bryan Russell (Ink) said...

I'll get my crayons out...


Simon C. Larter said...

That', well...I mean...I...uh...*cough* word.

That's some serious Seuss-ing, dude. Congrats on that one! Terribly amusing, good man.