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How a misprinted copy of “A Wrinkle In Time” taught me to believe, despite imperfection

Madeleine L'Engle quote, "Believing takes practice."

“Believing takes practice.” – Madeleine L’Engle

In readying my fingers for this post, I had only one thought, “Find a Madeleine L’Engle quote.” She is right next to C.S. Lewis as one of my favorite authors. Her book, A Wrinkle In Time, is my favorite book, going back all the way to fourth grade.

It wasn’t the very first book that I had purchased at a book fair, even though I had not bought very many. Buying books takes money, and money was in short supply in those days. A Wrinkle In Time was a book that interested me in a way that the Star Wars: Return of the Jedi activity books did not.

Cover image for A Wrinkle In Time, by Madeleine L'Engle

The first cover I ever saw for A Wrinkle In Time.

On the cover, there was a flying centaur-like creature, and a mysterious face with red eyes. The entire color palette of dark-neutrals and slate grays captivated my imagination. I purchased the book with the few dollars I was given, and I began reading immediately. I read through page 100 or so before I realized that I had read this before – not the book, but the section. I flipped back a few pages, and then a few more. There was a section in the center of the book that repeated a previous section. It was a misprint.

I was shocked and terribly disappointed. I had spent good money on a book that was broken. Now I didn’t know what would happen in the middle of the story. I found the place where the repeated section ended, and I continued reading. I finished the book, and then I immediately checked out another copy of the book from the school library and flipped to the section that I missed. I finished the book, and I was satisfied.

That book had a lasting effect on me. It was the first book I read that was not perfect. I had no idea that such a thing was even possible. I learned through experience traumatic to me that some things that we take for granted are subject to human error.

This book has the distinction of opening my eyes to imperfection. I’m certain I had plenty of other opportunities to see things gone wrong, but this one was all mine. I had lived in a world filled with books. Each one had a complete story. Each one was perfect – not just in its own way, but in all ways that I could see. Each one was complete and whole…until this one.

The simple misprint troubled me. It troubled me more than I wanted to admit. I had spent good money on this book, and now the book fair was over, and there was no way that I could get my money back. Even if I had gotten my money back, it was – in some ways – the end of my world. I had never had to leave a story like this before. I had never seen a book that was broken when it was new.

Fast-forward quite a few years to today. I am an author. I realize my own imperfections. In my writer friends, and their budding works-in-progress that they entrusted to me as a test reader, I see imperfection. I look further to see what is beneath that imperfection. What causes a writer to write? Or an artist to make art? Or a musician to make music? What causes us to do what we do in the pursuit of truth?

Belief.

Believing takes practice. So said Madeleine L’Engle. So say I. I seek after perfection – all artists do it, to varying degrees. However, it is not perfection that is achieved. It is, rather, a string of failures – a patchwork of persistence – that combine together to create a version of truth singular to its creator, author, artist, musician, or organizer.

Belief that the story needs to be told, the truth needs to find a face, and the image needs to find a voice – and then realizing that I am the imperfect tool that this story needs to find its way into the world – that takes a lot of faith. Believing takes practice.

Each one of us has something to do each day. Each one of us will have thoughts that come into our mind of things that we should do in the course of our daily work, whatever it may be. Give room to let those thoughts through. Now substitute whatever thoughts might come to you for the term “book” in this final quote.

“A book comes and says ‘Write me.’ My job is to try to serve it to the best of my ability, which is never good enough, but all I can do is listen to it, do what it tells me, and collaborate.” – Madeleine L’Engle

Madeleine L'Engle quote on writing a book

So where do we go from here? I speak these works that I, myself, need to hear. Believe in yourself, in your work, in the truth. Despite imperfections in the instruments of its creation, truth wants to be heard. There is no one that sees things exactly like you. There is no one that can do exactly what you do. So each day becomes a process of working, listening, adjusting, collaborating, and moving forward. In short, believing. Believing takes work.

Is there something you’ve been waiting to do because you haven’t believed enough? Are there thoughts pointing you to do or say something that you have pushed aside? What is your story, and how can today make it better? Share in the comments below.
This post appeared under the title “Believing, Despite Imperfection” on TarlAndAimee.blogspot.com on August 24, 2015, written by the same author.

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz Exhibit in Grapevine, Texas

This afternoon I visited The Wonderful Wizard of Oz exhibit in Grapevine, Texas. There were reproductions of character art by original Oz artist W.W. Denslow. The exhibit included educational stations to learn about the brain, heart, courage, tornadoes, and more.

WonderfulWizardOfOzExhibit_GrapvineTX_1

Entrance to The Wonderful Wizard of Oz exhibit.

At the entrance, we were greeted by some old friends.

WonderfulWizardOfOzExhibit_GrapvineTX_2

Entrance to The Wonderful Wizard of Oz exhibit.

WonderfulWizardOfOzExhibit_GrapvineTX_7

Scarecrow exhibit and brain learning center.

The Scarecrow brain learning center had a matching game. There were six plastic brains and six possible choices for which animal (or person) the brain belonged to. In the case of the human brain, the small door had a mirror on it instead of a picture. My lovely wife got all six brains correct. Nice job.

WonderfulWizardOfOzExhibit_GrapvineTX_8

There was a model scarecrow just lying on the floor. He had velcro on his joints to help him stay together. However, we came at the end of the day, and he looked like he had been through a lot with the kids coming through, so we let him rest.

WonderfulWizardOfOzExhibit_GrapvineTX_9

This dapper fellow’s station contained information about the heart. Unfortunately, one of the experiments wasn’t working, so we couldn’t see the pump in action.

While I was there, I met a very enthusiastic Oz fan, and I got to talk with her about some of the great Oz books she is reading. There are many Oz spin-offs and reimaginings, of which The Hidden History is only one universe. She is a collector and always keeps her eye open for new Oz memorabilia.

It was nice to meet another fan, and to see the lasting impact that L. Frank Baum’s original American fairy tale has, even more than a century after publication.

Interviewing a Fictional Character

Picture of a princess looking out a window

Do your characters hide when you come knocking at the door? Try asking these questions instead to get to know them better.

We’ve all been through the get-to-know-you stage in meeting new people. Whether it is at work, or at school, or just moving to a new place, getting to know new people is difficult. It is made more difficult by the walls erected to keep our own personality and quirks obscured. Each person has their own walls around their persona, and they only let trusted people get to know the “real person” inside.

How do you get to truly know a person? You ask the deeper, thoughtful questions beyond name, job, school, sports teams, movies, etc. One suggested question for getting inside a person’s head might be: What is your most treasured possession? Or, How would you like to die?

However, you must be careful with such emotionally-charged queries, and use these questions with discretion, as they may be greeted with suspicion (or restraining orders) by one unfamiliar with your get-to-know-you questions.

In the late 19th century, an author named Marcel Proust penned a list of 35 questions to get to know a person better. Read the rest of this page »

A Noctuary for Your Thoughts

Fantasy painting, The Gates of Dream, by Xeeming on deviantart.com.

The Gates of Dream, by Xeeming on deviantart.com

Noc´tu`a`ry
n.1. A record of what passes in the night; a nightly journal; – distinguished from diary.

If you could see the future, would you write it down to remember? If you could see the past, would it be important to record it? If you saw honestly, would you want it inscribed, so it would last forever? If you could record your dreams, would you?

The answer, for me, is a resounding yes to all of these questions. But then comes the next question,  why? Why would you want to record your dreams? Read the rest of this page »

Fixed Points in Time (an Oz perspective)

Image of the TARDIS landed on the Wicked Witch of the East, on the Yellow Brick Road, with Emerald City nearby. Doctor Who meets Wizard of Oz.

If the TARDIS had landed, instead of Dorothy’s house, would that have been worthy of writing? Would it have become a fixed point in time? (Image courtesy Rampaged Reality, via google image search)

I had a facebook conversation with a friend of mine the other day. He is also an Oz author. We were talking about the Great Book of Records and the role that it plays in our individual stories. Here is what I shared: Read the rest of this page »

The Perils of a Dangerbread House

An illustration from Tabby Abacus and the Dangerbread House, a chapter book for ages 8 and up, written and illustrated by Tarl Telford. Illustration by Tarl Telford.

On a path lined with cookies, beware of what lies at the end of that magical journey. – Illustration by Tarl Telford

A Dangerbread House is a strange thing of wild magic. You’ve seen it before – a house in the woods made of gingerbread, sweets, and candies. It is usually inhabited by a witch, who uses it to lure unsuspecting children into her clutches. This house is different though. In the new illustrated chapter book, Tabby Abacus and the Dangerbread House Read the rest of this page »

Oz author working on adoption

Picture of Tarl and Aimee - hopeful adoptive parents

Tarl and Aimee – hopeful adoptive parents

This is a personal posting, not specifically Oz-related. My family is pursuing adoption. We are reaching out to our social networks and asking friends and family to share our information with their trusted friends and family. The wider the network we grow, the greater the chance that expectant parents who are considering adoption will see our profile and hopefully consider us.

Frequent visitors to The Hidden History of Oz blog have come to expect interesting information about this prequel series to The Wonderful Wizard of Oz and info about Witches…mostly Witches. This is more personal, but I believe that you readers can work a little bit of magic for my family. In Oz, dreams are the greatest magic of all. Perhaps your combined efforts to share can make my family’s dreams of adopting a baby come true.

We have a facebook page that contains details and a link to our profile on adoption.com. We will also be launching a crowdfunding campaign soon. Details forthcoming on the facebook page. If you can help, or you know of someone who can, please share. We believe that dreams can come true.

Mapping the Hidden History of Oz

Map of Oz and surrounding countries. Used as a comparison against the updated map of Oz used in the Hidden History of Oz stories.

“Oz-and-surrounding-countrie” by L. Frank Baum (illustrated by John R. Neill) – Tik-Tok of Oz, first published in the United States in 1914. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons.

Creating a map is an interesting process. I like to have things accurate, so that I can trust the facts. When it came time to update my map for the Hidden History of Oz stories, I had my work cut out for me. I did a lot of research on the Cartographer’s Guild to understand how good maps work. The Cartographer’s Guild has a great website with a lot of knowledgeable folks providing comments, critiques, and advice for creating accurate maps. I looked at the original map of Oz, and I saw some features that needed more explanation. Let’s take a look.

Read the rest of this page »

Emerald Spectacles (Hidden History of Oz, Book Three) – Available Now

Cover image for the novel, Emerald Spectacles.

Available on Amazon, Smashwords, and wherever digital books are sold.

Emerald Spectacles is the third book in the Hidden History of Oz series. This intense, imaginative story spans the magical land of Oz and delves into the mysterious conjoined dreamlands. To save the Wizard, and to preserve the Land of Oz, Glinda must join forces with her mortal enemy, Kalinya, the Wicked Witch of the East, forge a coalition of dangerous Witches (including Mombi and Locasta), battle those that she once considered friends, and challenge the immutable forces of time and magic.

In this spellbinding conclusion to the Glinda Trilogy, time is running out for the Wizard. If he dies with his soul in the dreamlands, the Land of Oz will be host to his nightmares forever. However, success only guarantees survival, not a happy ending.

Emerald Spectacles is available on Amazon (in paperback and kindle versions) and on Smashwords, in your favorite digital format.

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