Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Anna's New Book: The Heart Takes Flight

The Heart Takes Flight is a children’s book for grownups, celebrating all those who wake into their dreams. With its inked images and text, this illustrated vignette invites you to try on your wings.

Written & illustrated by Anna Elkins.

Anna currently resides in the mythical State of Jefferson, where she writes, paints, and teaches. Her words have appeared in various journals and books, and her art has been exhibited at home and abroad.

Available for purchase through amazon.com and select bookstores.


A Heart Wakes: The Beginnings of The Heart Takes Flight

A couple of summers ago, I posted here about a card line I’d created called “The Heart Takes Flight.” Well, that heart has grown up, and the idea has turned into a book.

But back to 2010. That autumn, I was part of a team that travelled to the Bay Area to conduct a creativity conference called “Awakening.” I had been asked to teach on writing in the Spirit.

I had taught writing, but not in a Spirit-led sense. I was an itsy bit nervous. So I was glad that the morning I was scheduled to speak, the conference began with a long and gorgeous worship segment. I invited the Holy Spirit to tell me whatever was on His heart. I didn’t realize He would do so through someone else. Within a few moments, I felt a hand on my shoulder. A man began to prophesy over me. I had only met him once, when he coordinated the team on arrival the day before. I didn’t even know his name.

He began to speak of and into my life in the way a prophet can. He described my life’s callings and affirmed some secret questions I’d asked God and no one else.

Then he said, “You are a writer. You need to get started on your next book.” He didn’t even know I’d written a first one—years prior and still unpublished. When he gave me that call to action, I didn’t have an idea for a second book. I just knew I’d better start dreaming of one.

I learned far more than I taught that day.

That conference was a trip with Bethel School of Supernatural Ministry out of Redding, California. I came to study at BSSM from a small island in Micronesia, where I had been teaching literature and art. That journey is another story, except for this part: on my application to BSSM, I wrote a little vignette about being Sleeping Beauty and being awakened to God’s promises. Kind of trite, but true.

I didn’t remember the cards or the application during the Awakening conference. But when I returned to Redding, the idea of writing another book kept growing. I had enrolled in a writing class, mostly to meet other writers in the Bethel community. The instructor gave us writing prompts that wakened my poetry from its sleep. For one of the last assignments before the Christmas holidays, I completed a little storyboard about a heart waking into its dream. I called it The Heart Takes Flight. It charmed me, and I wondered if it might be the book I needed to write. But the holidays came and went. Life came and kept coming.

A year passed. I went home for Christmas and reread the prophecies that had been spoken over my life since I had been at Bethel. I read the one about writing a book and felt a little knot in my heart.

My storyboard called to me. I pulled it out. Aloud I said to it, “I need a writing retreat.” A few days later, friends of mine asked me to housesit while they went out of town for New Year’s. I packed my storyboard, my Japanese ink, and some brushes. I got to the house and fed the cat and canary. I covered the Balinese dining room table with thick layers of newspaper and began painting in the winter light that blossomed through thin silk curtains, birdsong my soundtrack. I painted line after line, “revised” the images over and over. For every simple image in The Heart Takes Flight, dozens and dozens ended up as the crumpled base for winter fires.

If I could distill my heart’s journey to its simplest story, it would be that of this inked heart. I wanted everything about the heart’s home—the book—to reflect that simplicity. The interior is black and white. The cover is so basic, that when you see it from across a room, all that is visible is a heart suspended in sky.

The Heart Takes Flight was to be both timeless and yet almost to feel as if it had been designed in the year of my birth (without the 70’s color trend of avocado-goldenrod-tangerine). The heart’s journey parallels my own: I was born in the natural, I was born again in the supernatural, and then I awakened into an understanding of how to live in both. And that is the background to a book with fewer words than this paragraph.

The Heart Takes flight is as complicated and simple as waking each day: as complicated as crossing from one world to the next and as simple as opening our eyes.


P.S. If you'd like to help me get the word out, that would be grand:

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Enjoy playing in its pages!