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As an English teacher I sometimes find myself compelled to complete the same writing prompts of my students. It’s finals time around my neck of the woods and an element of the final comes in the form of a timed expository response to a selected topic. The original composition was limited to twenty-six lines and this is simply a typed version of that same response, written under a forty-five minute time limit.


 

Things rise and fall in the cultural zeitgeist with the speed of a Japanese bullet train. Why would any one individual wish to conform to the mob mentality of societal pop culture instead of blazing their own trail? After all, the bullet train of pop culture has been known to fly off the rails from time to time.

Following trends does not ensure personal economic or spiritual success. The biggest success stories come about when an iconoclast, some unconventional individual who marches to the beat of his own drummer, eschews the most popular trends and forges something new and surprising. Take George Lucas for example. This is a man who crafted in Star Wars one of the largest cinematic achievements in the history of the art form. Yes, we now look at the 1977 film as a classic, comprised of elements that assure a creative and critical victory. However, at the time of its release, 20th Century Fox executives famously believed that they had invested time and money into a monumental failure and box office flop. It was too different from the popular films of the time, they argued. There was no way it would connect with movie going audiences. Time and good sense have prevailed however and we now understand that it was the very act of separating himself from the sheltered pack mentality of Hollywood that allowed for Lucas to bring his visionary space opera to the silver screen.

In the end it is the ability to reject conventional wisdom that allows an individual to have the greatest impact on society. As per the words of James F. Cooper, “the man who has no other existence than that which he partakes in common with all around him will never have any other than an existence of mediocrity.”

The year has come and gone. It was a big one for me; bought a house, published a new novel, got engaged, saw the new Star Wars in theaters. Lots of ticks off the bucket list in 2015 for sure.  I can’t say it was a good year overall. I mean, police brutality, terrorism, Donald Trump…do I really need to go into detail? Probably not. But I will go into detail with regard to the things that didn’t make me hate the very concept of existence.

J. Goodson Dodd’s Top Films of 2015

I think it is telling that I can’t even do a top 10 list this year. Granted, I missed a few films that looked like surefire winners (Straight Outta Compton, Creed, The Good Dinosaur, Crimson Peak) but all the same, it was a rather week slate altogether. But the good ones sure as hell did stand out.

I don’t pretend that these are the most technically sound films, or prestigious. These are simply the films that stayed with me or impressed me the most over the course of the year.

Beginning with…

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5. The Martian

Ridley Scott is such a hit or miss director these days. I personally loved Prometheus but I know it gets a lot of hate. Then you’ve got less than stellar Exodus, The Counselor, and that misguided attempt at Robin Hood with Russel Crowe.

With The Martian, however, Ridley Scott shows what made him such a respected name in the game of film in the first place with a masterfully paced adaptation of Andrew Weir’s novel of the same name. While much of the credit for the film goes to the folks who wrote the thing, Scott’s direction and steady hand go a long way towards cementing it as one of the best of the year. That’s to say nothing of Matt Damon playing the ever-loving hell out of Mark Watney, someone who the audience demands be charming enough that we believe it is worth the effort exerted to bring him home from his extra-terrestrial exile.

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4. Ant-Man

This time last year I was one hundred percent certain that Ant-Man would be overshadowed by Age of Ultron. Which is a shame, I told myself, because I love the character and lesser-known heroes deserve a chance to find love from the greater public at large.

So how did Ant-Man manage to be the best superhero film we got this year? Not only by virtue of only having to compete with garbage like Fantastic Four and the mediocrity of Avengers : Age of Ultron, but by having the sort of wit and charm that works best for left-field characters like Scott Lang. Having one of the best ensemble casts of any major film this year didn’t hurt, because Michael Pena could salvage even the worst of films.

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3. The Hateful Eight

I was sure this was going to be number one for me. I was sure of it. And it is only by virtue of the strength of other films that this gets the bronze medal. Quentin Tarantino turns in what, after careful consideration, might be his most carefully constructed piece of writing to date, filmed with expert precision, making it by far his most stunningly shot film. Looking at the man’s filmography, The Hateful Eight is the culmination of everything that is Tarantino. It has the excess of Kill Bill with the claustrophobic tension of Reservoir Dogs and the steady focus of Inglourious Basterds. It is a difficult film. One that will be divisive and off-putting to most, but over time will likely be appreciated as one of the finest pieces of cinema produced not just by Tarantino but any director working in the modern age.

Thematically, it is the grandest of anything Tarantino has ever done. His statement on the concept of race relations and violence in America is pointed and vicious. This is a timely film. Only minor tweaks would be necessary to bring the film into the present day and the message would remain the same. That is part of the brilliance of Tarantino’s design. There is a bit of dialog in the film about the “disarming” characteristics of a certain letter that Samuel L. Jackson’s Major Marquis Warren has in his possession. So too is there a disarming quality to the idea of a violent Quentin Tarantino film. He has long been regarded as a man more inclined to style over substance but with The Hateful Eight he truly does have something to say and he is going to say it loud, painting a thematic slogan across the screen in blood all the while filmed in glorious Panavision 70mm.

I had a lot of conflicting ideas about this film. I think I’ve worked through most of them and have settled on a final opinion. For my original review, you can check out my Tumblr post.

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2. Star Wars – Episode VII : The Force Awakens

I cried. Let that sink in. In all of the prequels, I don’t think I ever had a single emotional response to anything presented on the screen. I had the same emotional attachment to the franchise, but it didn’t connect.

So what changed?

The fact of the matter is that the reason the latest Star Wars film works is because it has an emotional core. While the script may have some pretty glaring flaws, the result of unending rewrites and tinkering, the overall construction of the film is rooted in an emotional ideal. Our new leads are connected to something that we have an affinity for, but we could have easily wound up hating the ever loving bejeezus out of them. Daisy Ridley and John Boyega have the unenviable task of being the new faces of Star Wars and not only do they do an amazing job, the managed to get me emotionally invested in their stories.

The “Hero’s Journey” trope has been rode into the ground and beaten within an inch of its life. So having that same story pattern brought up again and applied with Rey, my brain should have rejected it and dismissed it outright. Instead, the vibrancy with which she is brought to life makes me invested in the journey itself. I don’t mind familiar beats being hit again because when the beats land, they do so effectively with none of the clumsy handiwork of the prequels.

This feels like Star Wars again. On every conceivable level. And when Star Wars is good, it’s really really good. There’s a reason it is so long-lasting and endearing as a franchise beyond simple merchandising. There is magic in that universe. The Force Awakens proves that.

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1. Mad Max – Fury Road

I have never seen a film so visceral and economically minded with regard to storytelling as the fourth film in George Miller’s Mad Max saga.

This film is a modern marvel.

It should not work. Thirty years have passed since Max was on screen. Mel Gibson isn’t back. The continuity has been shot to hell. There’s very little in the way of dialog, which means virtually no exposition. How the hell were modern audiences going to react to a film that demanded that they fill in gaps with their imagination and critical thinking? Surprisingly they took to it like a fish to water and it became what has to be one of the most universally praised films I’ve ever encountered. I don’t know many people who didn’t think this thing was a masterpiece of cinematic genius. I know general consensus doesn’t amount to a whole lot but I’ll be damned if I’m not in awe of how universal the acceptance of Fury Road as a stunning benchmark in the name of cinematic achievement has become.

I really can’t say much more about the film. It stands on its own. It was the single most impressive film I’ve seen this year. I doubt we will see anything like it for a good long while.

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I love being a writer. I truly do. As a teacher I attempt to center the core of my instruction around the idea of building better writers. Though I may love literature as an art form, I also understand that in the current educational climate the ability to understand the dramatic themes in The Crucible comes secondary to advanced literacy and written communication skills. I try to teach my students the intricacies of using the English language to make themselves understood and how mastery of communication is one of the single most important traits they can attain when it comes to their eventual attempts to move upward in their careers or in societal circumstances.

Nobody can ever accuse me of not having a deep appreciation for the form of writing, and I find immense satisfaction in the act itself. Writing One Fate For Failure was one of the most emotionally fulfilling endeavors I have ever engaged in. I am unimaginably proud of it as a piece of my creative output and I have loved hearing the responses to it from the meager audience it has attracted since its release. (*Side-note: The only available editions thus far are the hardcover, which I know is massively overpriced, and the Kindle edition. I am hoping to have a more affordable paperback edition out soon. I promise it is something I am working tirelessly on as we speak.) What I do not enjoy, or am at least uncomfortable doing on a large scale, is the self-promotion that comes along with the release of a creative work.

This blog is updated with no real attention to regularity. I will simply write when it strikes me as being appropriate. I also have a hard time keeping up with Twitter. Part of this is because I am not a creator with any established cultural awareness. More simply put, my creative work is not popular enough to pay the bills. As such I have a job that takes up a good deal of my time and I cannot dedicate my entire existence to selling the thing that I have spent so much time creating.

The fact of the matter is this; if you create something you want the world to see, if you intend to maintain control of that creation you must also be willing to accept responsibility for the success or failure of that creation.

Thus far, I feel like I have not been living up to the current standard necessary to get the word out for my new novel. I can’t place the fizzle of a reaction to its release to anybody but myself. I just haven’t had the time, or perhaps the drive necessary, to promote the thing 24/7.

The point of writing this isn’t to lament that the book didn’t set the world on fire however. I didn’t have any expectation of that at all. In truth, the number of people who have taken the time to download and read the book has brought a smile to my face. It is also seemingly garnering far more positive a reaction than Grave Danger ever did. No, the point of writing this is to talk about whether a creative work only has value if it has an audience.

John Steinbeck once said that the “audience is one single reader. I have found that sometimes it helps to pick out one person-a real person you know, or an imagined person-and write to that one.” I don’t have any true inkling of how many people will read anything I write at any given time, these little essays included. Therefore, I write using myself as an audience surrogate and, in all honesty, simply hope that somebody else enjoys it.

In my mind, the joy of writing isn’t necessarily the idea of those creations finding an audience once I’ve published them, though it is an added bonus. To me, a true creator pushes the content out of their soul because they don’t know any other way to exist. I feel like there was a time when I didn’t think of my writing in this way, but I have slowly but surely come around to this mindset after spending enough time in reflection to grasp the concept that not everything that is great ever finds an audience and sometimes things that never need to see the light of day somehow find their way into the greater consciousness of popular culture.

I recognize that the tone of this essay is a bit scattershot. Perhaps it is because my emotional attachment to my creative output leads to such peaks and valleys. What I hope the supposed audience of this writing will take away is that creativity both is and is not a commodity, and even if nobody ever reads a single line of your creative output, that does not mean it is not valid and a beautiful culmination of creative determination.

All of that said, please be sure to buy One Fate for Failure on Amazon. I think you’ll love it.

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After a lot of hype and hooplah, the big day is here. The digital edition of One Fate For Failure is now available on Amazon Kindle. This is the culmination of a long road filled with endless stops and starts. The end product is something I believe in and really want to put out into the world. I hope everyone enjoys reading it as much as I did writing it. As I sit looking at the first few pages of my new project for NaNoWriMo, seeing the polished result of what has honestly been about two years worth of work available for purchase really fills my soul with a warmth I’m not accustomed to in these late months of the year.

For those of you who stumbled onto this page at random, maybe through hashtags or some other wacky internet magic, you may not know the story of One Fate For Failure and wonder why you should bother giving it a read. The short version is that it is an inversion of the tropes found in pulp spy stories such as the James Bond series that serves to stay true to the genre while subverting most of the conventional ideas. First and foremost our hero is a female, and there is something to be said about filtering the hyper-masculine world of special operations and espionage through the lens of a lady protagonist. The story follows Madeline McCallister, a SAD/SOG (Special Activities Group/Special Operations Divison) operative for the Central Intelligence Agency. Madeline, or Maddie as she is more affectionately referred to, finds herself caught up in a massive government conspiracy after a sanctioned operation in Mexico leaves her in hot water. She is forced to travel across the globe trying to take down the man responsible for soiling her name and staying one step ahead of the government agents who want to see her taken down.

I cannot emphasize enough how much fun the book was to write and how much fun the story is to read. Maddie is probably my favorite creation and I really hope that folks latch onto her because she definitely deserves some love. I implore you to give the book a chance. It’s only $4.99 to own, and if you’re a Kindle Unlimited subscriber you can read it for free. You don’t even have to have a Kindle to read it. You can get the Amazon Kindle app on Apple or Android devices and read away!

For fans of hard copies, fear not, a physical edition is still in the works for December, so you can still stuff some stockings with a spiffy print edition this holiday season as well.

Thank you for the support, I hope you enjoy the new book.

Click Here to View ONE FATE FOR FAILURE on Amazon.

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“So, what I told you was true…from a certain point of view.”

I think about those lines, spoken by Obi-Wan Kenobi in Return of the Jedi quite a bit when it comes time to start writing something new. Whose point of view am I telling the story from? Are they reliable in their narration? What is their voice? Is it the best means of transmitting the story in my head to my readers.

In One Fate for Failure, I made the decision to write in the first person. I felt like a great deal could be added to the narrative by filtering it through Maddie’s perspective. The entire tone of the story depended on her voice being an ever present force in the text. Take for example this bit of expository inner-dialog that we get from her in the first chapter;

Rick was ex-Delta and I was Naval Intelligence. We were as different as two people could be, but we had a mutual respect that made us gel in ways that lots of people wished they could. There were plenty of people in the intelligence community who didn’t care for me much at all for one reason or another. I couldn’t tell you why. Well, I could but I won’t because it’s crass and I don’t have the stomach for it. I come from a family that was always big on being proper. My parents were New England blue blood through and through. Cape Cod in the summer type of folks. They raised me to have manners and be respectful like a lady should. Then they died in a boating accident like the worst kind of east coast cliché and in my adolescence discovered a lot of things about myself while rebelling to manage my grief.

If I were to try to re-write that same excerpt of text from a different perspective, the same information would be conveyed but it is the fact that the details being relayed are being voiced by the character herself that lend it the appropriate tone. She is making these observations about herself and that somehow, to me at least, makes the whole passage more legitimate and serves the character better. While Maddie is telling us what is going on in her head, feeding us information, the fact that she is divulging this sort of backstory lets us know that she has a self-analytical mind and thus the layered distribution of information makes for a deeper reading experience.

I have only written in first person once before, in 2012’s Grave Danger. I’m not sure if a pattern is emerging or if my two recent writing exercises demanded a first person narration due to the conventions of their genre. At its heart, Grave Danger is a detective noir, albeit filled with paranormal elements, and the whole thing played out in black and white with that growly voice over narration that was ever present in those early detective films of classic Hollywood. One Fate for Failure’s first person perspective was driven by my desire to round out my central character. There was a central motivation there. It didn’t so much have to do with convention, seeing as it was a take-off of Fleming and his progeny.

So how do you make that final decision as to what perspective to write from? What is the best way to tell your story?

The truth is that it depends on authorial purpose. As a teacher I try to explain authorial purpose to my students and some of them rebel at the idea because they say “well how the hell would I know what he was thinking?” But as a writer your purpose should be clear in your head before you ever sit down to write. I knew when I began outlining One Fate for Failure that I wanted to subvert tropes found in the spy genre and make a comment on those same conventions. I knew that I would want to throw some winks at the audience and the best way to do that was to have the narrator make them for me. That only works within the context of the genre if the narration is first person. Add that to the fact that I wanted my prose to have the rich, layered delivery of information that I mentioned earlier and the choice was practically made for me.

Ask yourself why you want to write and what you are seeking to accomplish. Then you can make the decision as to what perspective to write from. If you can answer those questions, it should be a fairly easy process. If you can’t answer those questions, your story probably isn’t ready to be written yet. I’m already prepping my next project. It’s outlined and ready to go. I know that I want to tell a story that, again, subverts a particular genre, but I want to play within those conventions and as such I know that this time around I will be utilizing an omnipotent third-person narrator. My aim with this is to give the proceedings a feel akin to a folk-tale, as if the story is being related years down the line from someone who heard it from someone else.

A writer needs to be self-analytical to be worth a damn. It is a primal urge to get our stories onto the page but we also have to resist the urge to let the story control us as writers. The story works in service of your own authorial intent. Never lose sight of that.

I have detailed the long journey One Fate For Failure took to arrive in its final form in multiple blog posts in the last two years. A majority of those came earlier this year when the book was nearing completion and I knew it was no longer a promise in danger of never being kept. This was definitely happening. And now, the proof edition of the final novel has arrived and is in the process of being finalized. Once we have that locked down, I will have an official release date for the print edition. It will be available through Amazon.Com, BarnesAndNoble.Com and other locations as well.

But I wanted to preview exactly what it looks like for those who might be interested, and give my thoughts on what all went into creating the final product.

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There’s the official front cover. Pretty isn’t it? I spent a lot of time working out a design for this book because I wanted to imply a tone for the writing before the reader even cracked the front page. My central character is female, and I wanted that to be perfectly clear but I didn’t want to fetishize or overtly sexualize her on the front cover. I didn’t want this to be like one of those books you see with the generic female heroine in a pair of painted on leather pants gazing off into the distance.

I also didn’t want it to be a desaturated nightmare. I wanted some vibrancy, hence the contrasting white with pink/red color scheme. I think it really pops out at you and I couldn’t be happier with the way it turned out.

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Here’s the back cover. The color scheme is carried over and I tried to use imagery that is connected to the narrative without giving away too much of the story. You can probably assume that Maddie will end up in Paris because of the photo of the Eiffel Tower, but I didn’t want to spoil the circumstances. I also tried to be as vague as possible with my synopsis because so much hinges on the reader discovering the twists for themselves.

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But here’s my favorite page in the whole damned novel. I’ve already got a few pages of notes for the sequel (title forthcoming) and I hope everyone is as enthusiastic about Madeline’s debut as I am. I seriously have never been as proud of a work of fiction as I am with this. I feel like I accomplished everything I set out to do and Madeline is a character I hope to continue writing for a very, very long time.

Official release date announcements coming soon, guys! Thank you for all the support!

Here

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Over the last few days, I have been outlining heavily for my NaNoWriMo entry this year. I’ve spoken a bit about how One Fate For Failure took a very long time for me to complete and the reason for that is due to my reluctance to spend too much time outlining and instead allow my boundless creativity to take me in new and exciting directions.

Of course what happened was I would write myself into a corner and would have to toss aside dozens of pages and rebuild from scratch. That’s why when the book first came about it was about someone named Alyssa who couldn’t be any more dissimilar from Maddie as a character if I tried and the title was No Fate For Failure which in retrospect makes very little sense at all. The point is that I put a great deal of faith in my ability to write extemporaneously and I have come to understand that I am not the sort of writer who can pull off such a feat.

Luckily, my renewed dedication to the world of outlining has borne some nutritious fruit. I am often waffling back and forth on the way I structure my narratives. One of the things I have debated with myself over time and time again is the very concept of the prologue. When is it appropriate to use one? Is it cheating to include it? From the meager research I’ve done into the concept, the prologue is derived from Euripedes and the purpose was to replace a perfunctory, exposition-heavy first act.

Looking at the type of novels I have written, and examining the stories I have tried to tell, I cannot really look at a single one and argue against not only the inclusion of but the necessity of a prologue. In A Dark Tomorrow I utilized a vignette to set the mood and tone of the piece, introducing a character and the setting. I could have utilized this space in order to do some world building in order to eliminate some more exposition heavy chapters in the middle of the book, but as a rookie novelist I made many mistakes in that particular story. I am still insanely proud of it because, hey, it’s my first novel and its like my child that I can never truly stay mad at.

With The Song Before Nightfall, I wanted to make sure that readers had an understanding of the geography and history of the fantasy world I had created. This was doubly important because I didn’t shill out the money necessary to have a graphically inclined person draft a map of the locations that would be included in the narrative. There is no clearly drawn illustration of Adacia and the surrounding kingdoms the way there was for Tolkien’s Middle-Earth or Martin’s realms in A Song of Ice and Fire. I had to utilize my words in order to set the stage. To do this within the context of the narrative would take forever. It would have ballooned massively out of control. That is not something I wanted to happen.

One Fate For Failure does not have a prologue. The thing jumps right in. I made a conscious choice to do this in order to work within the conventions of the genre. Now, the first chapter acts like a prologue in the same fashion that most of the pre-credits sequences for a James Bond film do, but I don’t consider it to be a prologue in same way that I do the first few pages of The Song Before Nightfall.

What is my point you may ask? Well, for anyone wondering whether they need a prologue to begin their story, you really have to ask yourself some questions;

  1. Can this information be worked organically into the narrative?
    • Sometimes it truly is better to hit the ground running, and a prologue can feel unintentionally inhibiting to a reader. If the prologue you have crafted doesn’t give them a sense of understanding, it likely needs to be rethought or excised.
    • Remember, a prologue serves the purpose of replacing what would normally serve as a first act. Depending on the type of story you’re writing, a prologue can enhance the feeling of entering the narrative in medias res, even if it truly is the beginning of the arc you’re wishing to tell.
  2. Does it fit with the genre of writing I am working in?
    • Some genres just work better without a prologue. Sometimes you want to be careful not to give too much away. The piece I am currently working on absolutely requires a prologue in my opinion because the reader may need the historical context to understand the story. Working in historical fiction, readers will often need that context in order to feel comfortable with the story you are attempting to tell.
  3. Does it MATTER?
    • This is the big one. Is it a big ol’ waste of space or does it contribute something. I am a firm believer that it is better to have a shorter final product than have a bloated end product that suffers at the expense of appearing bulkier. I know people want to get their money’s worth but always remember that every decision you make should be done in service of the narrative.

The big deal here is really context. Does what you are offering up in the prologue provide necessary context for your reader? Do they gain something from that information? If not, then why are you bothering to include it? When you are writing it is important to keep your audience engaged. Nobody will come back to read your next book if they felt you wasted their time with your last effort.

You spend a lot of time writing, make sure you make it worth their’s to read it.

I’m doing it again.

I don’t know why. I’ve only successfully finished an entry one time (in 2011, which gave the world GRAVE DANGER). I’m not an especially fast writer. Hell, I’ve been clawing at One Fate For Failure for close to two years now, in various forms.

That said I want to push myself. I want to write. I always do. I always am, so why not give myself a deadline and some sort of motivation. Conquer what has always been a challenge and reap the rewards. At least that’s how I’m looking at it.

As such I’m setting some goals for myself this year;

  1. Write in an unfamiliar genre.
    • I’m not tied to any one genre nowadays. I’ve done fantasy (The Song Before Nightfall), horror/mystery (Grave Danger) and thriller (One Fate For Failure). I suppose I could write a romance this time around, although I don’t think anyone wants to read that sort of thing from me. There are people who are far better suited to writing in that world than I am. So instead I’ve decided to write a western. A genre that I love in film but haven’t ever written in or even read extensively in. There is a general prevailing thought that you shouldn’t write in a genre you haven’t read ad nauseum, but I am hoping that by not catering to convention I can present something different for that particular category of fiction.
  2. Write with careful attention to tone and voice
    • I spent a lot of time inside Maddie’s head for One Fate For Failure and while I loved her as a character it also meant that the way I told the story was shaped by her perception. There were words that Maddie just wouldn’t use if I wanted her voice to feel authentic. With this project I am hoping to give the narrator a full range of verbiage by making him omniscient and all-knowing. It should allow me to stretch literary muscles I haven’t exercised in a long time.
  3. Finish on a strict deadline
    • This is pretty self explanatory. I don’t write particularly fast and I just want to see if I can meet a deadline again. In order to do this I’m doing a couple of things. Mostly I’m going to do an ungodly amount of pre-writing. I’m outlining and doing character analysis up front so that when it comes time to do the nitty gritty of writing I am not slowed down.

So if you’re a fellow writer looking to buddy up feel free to check out my NaNoWriMo profile and send me a message. I’m looking forward to a hectic and productive November.

As an English teacher as well as a writer I often times will draft literary analysis examples on the fly to show how to examine different genres of writing. Today I looked at a poem by Robert Frost entitled Acquainted With the Night and drafted a quick analysis essay that I figured I would share so that I can refer back to it the next time I need something similar.


Poetry is often used to elicit empathy from the reader. The poet crafts words and phrases into rhyme and meter in an effort to elicit a response from his audience that is commensurate with his own emotional state. In the poem “Acquainted with the Night,” poet Robert Frost seeks to create empathy for the speaker of the piece, who is largely coming to terms with his own struggle with depression and internal darkness.

In the poem, Frost utilizes a structure that is not altogether dissimilar to a Shakespearean sonnet. He gives us four stanzas, three lines each, followed by a rhyming couplet. The scheme of ABA, BCB, CDC, DAD, AA allows the reader to follow the pattern of Frost’s thought process and aids the reader in understanding his meaning; that struggling with depression is like wandering alone through a dark and stormy night in the wrong part of town.

Frost’s tone here is bleak. He uses imagery to paint a picture of darkness and help the reader understand the feeling of being completely underwhelmed. A good example can be found in the first stanza when he writes “I have outwalked the furthest city light” (line 3), positing an existence and struggle that extends beyond the illuminated world of what is known and into a dark place where only uncertainty remains. Frost’s examination of internalized depression continues, elaborating and further emphasizing the emptiness and isolation that such a situation can impress upon a person. “I have looked down the saddest city lane./ I have passed by the watchman on his beat/ and dropped my eyes, unwilling to explain” (lines 4-6). Here Frost is specifically talking about the emotional weight of depression, passing the “watchman on his beat,” representing the collective figure of possible protection or salvation from his condition, and the guilt and burden that is often associated with living with depression. He is “unwilling to explain” his condition because he fears what reaction it might provoke.

Frost wraps his entire theme in the blanket of a major metaphor. The “night” is meant to represent depression and his speaker is slowly coming to terms with those feelings. In the final stanza, in a rhyming couplet Frost writes that the world, here personified by the moon shining in the night sky, has “proclaimed the time was neither wrong nor right/ I have been acquainted with the night” (lines 13-14). Here, Frost is making a declarative statement that there is no objectivity to the concept of darkness and depression, it simply is. He has sought, thus far, to allow us to empathize with those who might be struggling with such emotions, here he is concluding my reminding those who do not suffer that there is no place for judgment.

Poetry is a form devised to deliver and convey emotions. No rule exists that says the emotions conveyed need be positive. Robert Frost writes about the darkness that many people face, and how on a long enough timeline it ceases to be anything but a regular part of their life, sad as it may be.

Cover

Final Cover Art Subject To Change

Coming Winter 2015 (exact release date forthcoming), ONE FATE FOR FAILURE is headed to the presses. Look out for pre-order opportunities as well as giveaways and special events.

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One Fate For Failure
Song Before Nightfall
February 2016
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