Don’t make the mistake of thinking I have any earthly idea where writing comes from or how it began. I am only talking personal history here, nothing grander or more meaningful. This post is only self-referential hoo-haw, which is a fancy way of interpreting “conceited crap”.
So, the truth is, I am writing about Charles Dickens because he is the author I most want to become. True, I rant on and on about Twain and his humor. And a good deal of my artwork owes everything to Disney, but everything I am good at in writing is based on Dickens.
The first actual Dickens novel that I read was accomplished during my extended illness as a high school sophomore. I read in bed, both at home and in the hospital, from my library copy of The Old Curiosity Shop. I was enthralled by the journey and subsequent tragedy of Little Nell. I thoroughly loathed the villain Daniel Quilp and was roundly thrilled by his well-deserved fatal comeuppance. It was my first encounter with the master of characters. I followed that reading with a biography of Dickens that revealed to me for the first time that his characters were based on real people. Mr. Micawber in David Copperfield was actually Dickens’ own father. Little Nell was the cousin he dearly loved who died in his arms. The crafty Fagin was a caricature of a well-known fence named Soloman, a Jew of infamous reputation, but not without his redeeming quality of caring for the orphaned poor. So it is that I have chosen to make my silly stories about real people in much the same way Dickens did. If you are now worried that since you know me, you may end up in my books, never fear. I change names and splice characters together. You will have to make an effort to recognize yourself. And, besides, nobody reads my books anyway.
I also like the way Dickens uses young characters and follows them over time as they grow and change. Oliver Twist was the first child protagonist in English literature. David Copperfield, Nicholas Nickleby, and Pip in Great Expectations are also like that. David Copperfield, in fact, is Chuck’s own fictionalized self. I fully intend to do the same. It is the reason my books fall into the Young Adult category. I also intend to employ the same kind of gentle, innocent humor that Dickens used. I mean to portray things that are funny in a disarming, absurdist way rather than resorting to attack humor and bad words.
There it is, then, my tribute to Charles Dickens, a writer who makes me be who I am and write what I write. I am not supposed to do Christmas posts because of my avowed religion, but you can consider this to be as close as I can come. The author of A Christmas Carol… it doesn’t get much more Christmassy than that.
One response to “Chuck Dickens and the Origins of Writing”
The Paffooney is a portrait of Bob Crachit and Tiny Tim if you can’t tell by my goofball artwork.