A few weeks back I finally wrote the script for a Dr. Seuss bio comic. This is significant because "finally" can be extrapolated to mean "after about a year."
This was the third of three comic book biography scripts I've written for Bluewater Productions. Early last year I wrote ones for Neil Gaiman and Mikhail Prokhorov, the latter of which was released last fall. A few months after sending in those scripts I was asked if I wanted to do one for Seuss as well, and I quickly agreed.
That was the only quick thing about it. For whatever reason (and I could certainly come up with a lot of excuses), I just didn't get into writing that one the way I'd done the Gaiman and Prokhorov scripts. Those I was able to do the way I'd done the speculative work from the days when I was a regular on the Digital Webbing message board. I could write a full (22 page) script in a day or two, without much development time at all. That's exactly how I did the Gaiman and Prokhorov scripts, research and all.
Yet with Seuss I'd set myself up conceptually. I didn't just want to write about Seuss, but rather do it in rhyme. Chances are very good that you've read Seuss yourself. You know how distinctive his work is. I didn't want to mimic Seuss so much as evoke him. There was a great FoxTrot homage to How the Grinch Stole Christmas that I'd read probably within a year of accepting the assignment, and I had also been reading Seuss again during infrequent visits back home in Maine where my nephew lives (he's since become a Big Brother).
This Seuss deal wasn't just an assignment. I doubt any American who doesn't follow Nets basketball cares much for Mikhail Prokhorov (no offense!), and until his name was brought to my attention I'd never even heard of him. Gaiman, of course, is a personal favorite, and that's absolutely why I was eager to write that one. Seuss was different. Gaiman is talented, but I'm not sure he's larger than life. The only writers I would compare in terms of personal stature would be Stephen King and Dave Barry. The key difference with Seuss is that he had a long life and has in fact ceased to be. There are a lot of things that I got to learn and enjoy about him that I got to translate into the script.
For instance, I inadvertently duplicated one of his own creative experiences in the amount of time it took me to write the biography. Seuss took a year to write The Cat in the Hat, his version of a more interesting classic primer being perhaps more of a challenge than he originally anticipated. At this point in his career he'd already written numerous books and all of that followed earlier occupations such as advertising and the military. The Cat breakthrough was followed in quick succession by The Grinch, arguably his two greatest and most enduring accomplishments.
I don't mean to compare myself to Seuss by any means, but I think I can understand what took him so long and why the way it played out was exactly the way it should have. That's something anyone can appreciate, whether you work creatively or not. I ended up pretty satisfied with the script. What would it have looked like if I'd written it a year earlier? I'm someone who believes there are specific moments where a specific work finds itself in a specific shape. I was in a very different place a year ago. I wouldn't say that my abilities are vastly different today than they were then, but the fact that I kept getting blocked tells me that it wasn't the right moment. And I don't believe you can force your best writing. (Although of course years of schooling certainly tried to convince me otherwise.)
Anyway, that was my big recent creative development, and I figured I should write about it here.