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When I was a young man in 7th grade, in , my middle school sponsored an essay contest for Martin Luther King, Jr. I participated.
The Legend of Sleepy Hollow
I was in science class the morning the essay was due. Go write. So I sat down at the computer and opened a blank document. I stared at the screen a few minutes, composing my thoughts. Then I wrote. It might have been two pages. I hit print and submitted it to my teacher next class…. I won. My dad got me a suit. He showed me how to tie a double-windsor. I remember adults smiling at me, many of whom were African American.
They shook my hand. I was told that a chaperone would lead me to the stage when it was time for me to read my essay. A tall, beautiful black woman introduced herself to me. She was my chaperone. She had her hair up. She wore a form-fitting blue dress with diamond sparkles flecked throughout. The sparkles caught all the light.
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The other two speakers were girls, so their chaperones were men. I spoke last, and the black woman in blue took my arm in hers—or maybe put her arm in mine—and led me to the stage. I felt too much, too honored. I was too young. The woman guided me to the podium. She may have kissed my cheek. I saw expectant smiles, men and women leaning forward waiting for me to speak. I placed the clean papers of my essay on the podium and began to read.
When it was over, the audience applauded long and happily. The beautiful woman returned to the stage, took my arm again, and walked me down the steps and out to the hall. I still salute the memory of Dr. King and his Civil Rights Movement. Tomorrow they might see things anew—they might change their minds. Change is not immediate; influence is not immediately apparent. King has taught me: trust yourself, certainly; and trust other people. Be willing to give them the time needed to make that change. It might mean trouble for you.
It might mean very hard times. Keep talking anyway. Keep trusting. Change will come through. That was his dream. Thanks for reading. Connect with me on Facebook and Twitter! I see myself doing it…and I see YOU doing it…and you know what? Time to be smarter.
My grandmother, Flor Chinchilla, died yesterday. She immigrated from Costa Rica decades ago with my dad who was then about 5 years old. She was a small woman who barely learned English and could never operate a laptop or cellphone, barely a DVD player. She lived in a small house in Los Angeles that is floor-to-ceiling full of old dolls and pictures of my dad and my sister and me, tending lemon trees and caring for five little dogs.
The stories that woman had to tell… The history she lived through… An African proverb says that when an old man dies, a library burns to the ground. It is the same with an old woman from Costa Rica, and the stories told and not told have left this world with her. She was We thought she had another decade in her. Time is not so kind as wishes. Life has come into greater perspective. It is such a cop-out! Such an easy way of writing!
The Legend of Sleepy Hollow and Other Stories
It reminds me of modern artists whose techniques are nowhere near as complex and amazing as those of Renaissance artists. Our psychology has grown weak because people seek first person narratives to fill voids in their lives. So is most television. Check your reading list. Go pick up a third-person narrative written before the s.
In other words, stop using art—in any form—as an easy and temporary fix to fill your bored moments; start using it as what it was meant to be, a challenge to your mind and an affirmation of life that you actively make time to enjoy. So I read it, thought it was masterful! Then I decided to start writing, professionally. Card impressed me—clear writing, gripping characters, intriguing storytelling techniques—and what did I find? What else? I am determined not to return home until I have sent some writings before me that shall, if they have merit, make me return to smiles, rather than skulk back to the pity of my friends.
Irving spent late and the early part of putting the final touches on the short stories and essays that he would eventually publish as The Sketch Book through and The Sketch Book initially existed in two versions: a seven-part serialized American version in paperback and a two-volume British version in hardback. The British edition contained three essays that were not included in the original American serialized format.
At that time, Irving reordered the essays.
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Modern editions of The Sketch Book contain all 34 stories, in the order directed by Irving in his Author's Revised Edition, as follows: . The first American edition of The Sketch Book initially comprised twenty-nine short stories and essays, published in the United States in seven paperbound installments, appearing intermittently between June 23, , and September 13, Irving used his brother Ebenezer and friend Henry Brevoort as his stateside emissaries, mailing packets of each installment to them for final editing and publication.
Van Winkle , who would send each installment into a second printing through and A single-volume hardcover version, reprinting the two English volumes, was published in the United States by Van Winkle in Searching for another publisher, Irving appealed to his friend and mentor, Sir Walter Scott , for assistance. Scott approached his own publisher, London powerhouse John Murray , and convinced him to purchase the rest of the stock and continue publication.
Heartened by the enthusiastic response to The Sketch Book , Murray encouraged Irving to publish the remaining three American installments as a second volume as quickly as possible. In July , Murray published the second volume of The Sketch Book , including all the pieces from the final three American installments, plus three additional essays: the American Indian sketches "Philip of Pokanoket" and "Traits of Indian Character", which Irving had originally written for the Analectic Magazine in , and a short original piece, "L'Envoy", in which Irving thanked his British readers for their indulgence.
Given Irving's additions, the English version of The Sketch Book contained thirty-two pieces, while its American counterpart contained only twenty-nine. Irving has been heretofore so much distinguished, are all exhibited anew in the Sketch Book, with freshened beauty and added charms.
As critic Gulian Verplanck wrote:. It will be needless to inform any who have read the book, that it is from the pen of Mr. His rich, and sometimes extravagant humour, his gay and graceful fancy.
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Two of the book's early admirers were Sir Walter Scott who called it "positively beautiful"  and Lord Byron who said of the book, "I know it by heart". As he said, "Every reader has his first book; I mean to say, one book among all others which in early youth first fascinates his imagination, and at once excites and satisfies the desires of his mind Even Irving admitted that he was pleased to have stunned the skeptical English critics. When one English admirer asked Irving to confirm that he was really an American, Irving responded enthusiastically: "The doubts which her ladyship has heard on the subject seem to have arisen from the old notion that it is impossible for an American to write decent English.
The book is compared favourably with William Pinnock 's English educational texts in George Eliot 's novel The Mill on the Floss : Maggie, talking about her 'gloomy fancy' to her cousin Lucy says:. Let us hope it will give way before my mother's custards and this charming Geoffrey Crayon. Book 6, Chapter 2.
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