Charles Dickens : A ramblers thought

I just decided to write on this because I was talking to a friend today about Charles Dickens’s books, and it brought me nostalgia back to my young days that I just needed to ramble about this.

I've always felt a personal connection to Charles Dickens.

For example, If I will have a few authors hanging on my walls at home in future, he is one of them, right next to Stephen King.

Right from the beginning of my exploration into books, I knew his name. When I was seven or so, I remember getting a series of books from my primary school library, mostly the comic adaptations. Opening any page, on one side would be heavily simplified and edited narrative and on the other will be a black-and-white drawing of what is happening. While as an adult I question whether we should be ruining the surprises and endings of great works of literature for kids in books like that, at that time, I couldn't get enough of them.

Well, I had dozens of these books when I was a kid and most of them were attributed to Charles Dickens.

I fell in love with Oliver twist at a young age.  See, I have read most of Dickens’ work, If anything my obsession with his storytelling and life has increased. I remember the first time I read A Tale of Two Cities. It felt so different from his other books, and the atmosphere and tragedy of the stories really moved me. But A Tale of Two Cities also for me is an example of the power of his creative mind. Consider the ending and Sydney is heading to his end. While most writers today would simply have him say “It is a far, far better thing…” Dickens can’t stop there–oh no, he can’t–and Sydney is having visions of the future around the other characters, as if Dickens can’t turn off the part of his mind creating the stories. While for us the tale is ending, for him it is going on and on and on… That to me says everything about how he was wired as a writer.

If I was to point to one of his works as my favorite it would have to be Oliver Twist. Adventure of Oliver Twist in my humble opinion is one of the few perfect works of literature. Just a word out of place and it would fall, it is that perfect. When I have a son, to help him fall asleep I would read the entire book to him and that is after the bible of course.

Personally, if there is one thing I can say that Charles Dickens has taught me it is that I have limitations in my own writing ability. I cannot do what he does with plots. I just don’t have it in me yet.

I have read a few articles where people try to speculate what he would be doing today. Some think he would have a blog or be a self-publisher, but I disagree. If Dickens was one thing it was passionate about his writing, even in today’s congested market of want-to-be published authors, he would have fought tooth and nail to play with the big publishing houses. I can’t see him happy with simply having a blog.

Bottom line is this, Charles Dickens is indeed one of the greatest writers of all time.

 1. Dickens was the second oldest of eight children. He was the father of ten children.
Lesson: Yes, you can pursue your passion and have a family. Nobody has time to write, unless you make time to write.

2. When Charles was twelve, his father was sentenced to debtors’ prison. Charles had to go to work ten-hour days in a shoe polish factory.
Lesson: Use your experiences in life, good or bad, not only to know what to write, but why to write. Through his storytelling, Dickens championed the struggles of the poor. Decide on a vision for your writing.

3. In the sometimes cruel conditions of the factory, Dickens experienced loneliness and despair at a young age, but he realized that these can illustrate not only the depths of human nature, but the heights of kindness and redemption.
Lesson: It is the character of a man that makes a memorable character, and everyone, at the core, is motivated by one deep-rooted universal desire–to be loved.

4. Many of Dickens’ stories were published as serials, hooking in people monthly or weekly. Each segment ended with a cliffhanger to leave people hungry for more. It is said that people waited on the New York docks for the next ship to come in, asking “Is little Nell dead?”
Lesson: End each scene, and each chapter with a cliffhanger to keep your reader turning pages. And, with electronic publishing’s new gateway to readers, I believe the serialization style that Dickens’ popularized will experience a Renaissance. Like Dickens, writers today can get feedback from their readers that can inspire their stories as they are created.

5. Dickens died of a stroke in 1870, at the age of 58. He wrote novels, novellas, short stories, and non-fiction..
Lesson: : You can make a difference, but don’t let time rob you of the chance. And don’t necessarily limit yourself to one style of publication. Write with a vision. Write now.

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