Charles Dickens and Speaking to Ideas

My goal has always been to one day become a published author, but lately, I haven’t been doing much to get myself any closer to that goal. I need to light a fire under my ass, and that fire has come in the form of NaNoWriMo and the demise of the beloved blogging event Writer’s Quote Wednesday previously hosted by Colleen.

In thinking over both, I have realized two things: I enjoy learning about authors who have come before me, collecting their words of wisdom, and sharing both with all of you, and two, I know nothing about writing a novel, but I think I might learn as I go. So, I am combining both. On Wednesdays, I will continue to write about writers and their advice, and I will also let you know how I am faring so you might hold me accountable.

This week I have chosen a quote from the English author Charles Dickens, who’s book, Great Expectations I am currently enjoying.

239579From Wikipedia:

“Charles John Huffam Dickens, born on February 7th, 1812 created some of the world’s best-known fictional characters and is regarded as the greatest novelist of the Victorian era. His works enjoyed unprecedented popularity during his lifetime, and by the twentieth-century critics and scholars had recognized him as a literary genius. His novels and short stories enjoy lasting popularity.

Born in Portsmouth, Dickens left school to work in a factory when his father was incarcerated in a debtors’ prison. Despite his lack of formal education, he edited a weekly journal for 20 years, wrote 15 novels, five novellas, hundreds of short stories and non-fiction articles, lectured and performed extensively, was an indefatigable letter writer, and campaigned vigorously for children’s rights, education, and other social reforms.

Dickens was regarded as the literary colossus of his age. His 1843 novella, A Christmas Carol, remains popular and continues to inspire adaptations in every artistic genre. Oliver Twist and Great Expectations are also frequently adapted, and, like many of his novels, evoke images of early Victorian London. His 1859 novel, A Tale of Two Cities, set in London and Paris, is his best-known work of historical fiction. Dickens’s creative genius has been praised by fellow writers—from Leo Tolstoy to George Orwell and G. K. Chesterton—for its realism, comedy, prose style, unique characterisations, and social criticism.

On June 8th, 1870, Dickens suffered another stroke at his home after a full day’s work on Edwin Drood. He never regained consciousness, and the next day, five years to the day after the Staplehurst rail crash, he died at Gad’s Hill Place.

Contrary to his wish to be buried at Rochester Cathedral ‘in an inexpensive, unostentatious, and strictly private manner,’ he was laid to rest in the Poets’ Corner of Westminster Abbey. A printed epitaph circulated at the time of the funeral reads: ‘To the Memory of Charles Dickens (England’s most popular author) who died at his residence, Higham, near Rochester, Kent, 9 June 1870, aged 58 years. He was a sympathizer with the poor, the suffering, and the oppressed; and by his death, one of England’s greatest writers is lost to the world.'”

“An idea, like a ghost, must be spoken to a little before it will explain itself.”

― Charles Dickens

To be perfectly honest I decided to give this NaNoWriMo thing a go only yesterday. I figure I thought of it just in time too, I still have a whole month to prepare! For those of you who don’t know, NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month. Every year in the month of November and the goal is to write a 50,000-word novel by November 30th. Whew!

I don’t have much to go on, just a few characters, and few ideas, and a feeling, but I think that might be enough to start.

I’ve always wanted to write a series, so 50,000 words will quite literally be “only a start” for me. I want to write something about the future, something sci-fi-ish, something where everything we thought was going to be good has gone to shit instead.I want to write something with a message, about how we are loving and cruel and how we repeat the past over and over until one day we decide to stop. I’ve always wanted to write something where someone who looks like me saves the world. I want to write something I would want to read.

So, I’m starting with that. I do realize what I have is next to nothing but feels like it could be something, even if it’s only ever something to me.

I signed up over on this morning and saw that everyone was gearing up for #NaNoPrep during the month of October, which is exactly what I was planning on doing too. I started pre-preparations this morning by firing up Ulysses on my iPad and getting acquainted with how it works, doing a little novel writing how-to research, and jotting down some ideas. I already I have pages of notes!

I’m not just writing down ideas, though, I’m talking to them. I’m treating each one like something apart and outside of myself and letting it tell my what it means, what it wants, and where it wants to go. I’m asking not telling and letting the story tell itself to me. I’m learning a lot in a very short time.

I don’t believe any of the ideas I come up with are especially great ideas. I don’t get the feeling that this novel will be a bestseller and that I will be rich and famous. I don’t even know if there will ever be a novel, but I know I like the way this feels. I like sitting down with my ideas, and letting them take me out, and back, and out, and back through the plot and problems I might write about one day.

I like learning what I am capable of imagining.

I like talking to the ghost and letting it explain to me what this journey is all about.


If you like this post, you should see my newsletter :)

Biographical information via Wikipedia and Goodreads

Original image via Pixabay


4 Replies to “Charles Dickens and Speaking to Ideas”

What do you think?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.