So you can read my books

Monday, January 3, 2011


Sleep swept me along in currents of rich, quiet darkness as I drifted along ink seas under starless skies.

A thin, reedy voice spoke to my right. Gypsy yowled her "Not another friggin' ghost" yowl.

"All literature begins with geography."

I pried lead-heavy eyelids reluctantly open. Gypsy shoved her tiny head under my pillow, grumbling low. Robert Frost smiled at her from his ghost chair by my bed.

He gazed off into the darkness and murmured one of the last lines he ever wrote while alive :

"Unless I'm wrong
I but obey
The urge of a song

And I may return
If dissatisfied
With what I learn
From having died."

He turned his eyes back to me. "As it turned out, I was quite satisfied with what I learned. But Elinor has chased me out of our celestial farm tonight."

He rubbed his chin ruefully. "She says I always get insufferable on this day."

Gypsy pulled her head out from under the pillow and yowled. Robert Frost shook his head and answered my cat.

"Upon this day in 1963 I learned that my "In the Clearing" collection had won the Bollingen Prize for best book of American verse, 1962. It oddly pleased me to no end for some reason."

I tried to blink some clarity to the fog of my awakening mind. "Ah, Mr. Frost ...."

"Rob, please."

"Uh, Rob, do you really think all literature begins with geography?"

He laughed. "Starting with absolute pronouncements is an old teaching trick, Roland. You were a teacher as was I. You know that. It is human nature to rail against them, to kick holes in them, thus thinking through your own beliefs in the meantime."

He pursed his lips like a troubled librarian for a moment. "But geography certainly shaped my own poetry. You could call these places "Frost Country":

San Francisco, Lawrence, Derry, England, Franconia, Shaftsbury, Ripton and Bennington. These are the literary time capsules of my beliefs and will enrich your enjoyment of my poetry."

Gypsy angrily muttered under her feline breath, and Robert Frost chuckled, "No that is not the reason I disturbed your sleep, cat."

He patted his knees. "I wanted to tell you, Roland, to persevere. You, and all your blog friends, have more talent than you believe, and this new year will bring fresh harvests."

He rose slowly, smiling ruefully. "By working faithfully eight hours a day you may eventually get to be boss and work twelve hours a day."

He started to fade like a dream upon awakening. "No great wisdom from beyond I'm afraid. In three words I can sum up everything I've learned about life: it goes on."

He tapped my shoulder with all-but-invisible hand. "Forgive me my nonsense, as I also forgive the nonsense of those that think they talk sense."

The last thing I saw was his faint smile. "Now, back home to Elinor. Home is the place where, when you have to go there, they have to take you in."

And he was gone.

So? Do you have any tricks you use when you want to make your readers think? And do you think Rob was right? Does all literature begin with geography? Do the important places in your life affect how and what you write?


  1. Now that you mention it... I've never put the tag 'geography' on it but my ideas do begin with it and grow from there.

  2. Mary : I guess Robert Frost did know more than he knew. Have a great Monday.

  3. I don't know if it all begins with geography but I know geography definitely helps. When writing fantasy I've found that the more I develop my world the easier it is to be inspired for more novels. I just look at a different part of the world and it's people and become inspired!

  4. Geography does play a part in my writing, especially since it's Science Fiction--a lot of the plot is wound around the world and its history.

  5. ...geography tends to play a major role in storytelling when considering dialogue, inserting the appropriate slang for one's characters, or using words such as supper, as opposed to dinner, depending on which side of the Mason Dixon one finds himself. Different ways of speaking...all based on setting...on the character's geography:)

    Teaching through creativity...well done!

    Have a great week, Roland!

  6. Elliot : Yes, William Faulkner is linked to one part of the country, and Stephen King is linked to another. Thanks for thinking I did a nice job of teaching. And you have a great week as well!

    Golden Eagle : Science Fiction is especially bound to geography -- think DUNE.

    Heather : You're right. Geography is essential in science fiction. But the geography where the author grew up is also important. Think Twain's Hannibal, Missouri and his beloved Mississippi. Have a great first week of 2011.

  7. I find myself frequently teaching history as a product of the environment. Even though much of the curriculum teaches them as two separate things. Geography isn't just memorizing rivers, it's looking at how the position of hte rivers, weather, tectonic activity, what-have-you has created the culture that thrived there.
    And fiction cannot happen without a sense of place. As much as our stories only happen within the settings we have given them, so to have the authors beliefs been influenced by our own physical/cultural geography.

  8. Erin : How insightful you are. That, in part, was what Robert Frost was trying to say.

    Civilization sprang from the port cities since trade thrived due to the ships with their rich cargoes.

    Wars have been fought for control of important ports or small islands where vital spices were to be found.

    William Faulkner and Mark Twain, their beliefs and their attitudes toward mankind and writing sprang from their geography -- as you so eloquently put forth in your second paragraph.

    It's nice to connect to a kindred spirit here in the blogverse, Roland

  9. Hi Roland .. interesting comments here on your post - which drew me in and I've kept til I can read and reply .. as I'd written a post on the Geographical Fugue as my last post for 2010 .. music ties in here .. as well as teaching, entertaining young and old, speaking skills .. etc

    But the points about language used in different parts of the country or world are so important as is mentioned .. as are the other comments.

    I enjoyed this and your story telling around the idea - thanks and have a very happy New Year - Robert Frost left us his wise words .. Happy New Year .. Hilary

  10. Hi, Hilary : Thanks for liking my post enough to keep until you could reply. That means a lot to me.

    Isn't it odd that you and I wrote independently about similar subjects at about the same time? I've noticed that around the blogverse. Something in the media or our collective unconscious must have sparked our muse.

    Right now, my muse needs a new set of spark plugs -- in inspiration today! LOL.

    Have a great New Year, Roland