Monday, March 19, 2012

Monday Musings: Writing with Purpose

Charles Dickens
One of my favorite authors is Charles Dickens. In his life outside of writing, he was a man of deep thought and contemplation. He placed much value on the comprehension of the current events in which he lived.

Although most remembered today for A Christmas Carol, or Oliver Twist, Dickens wrote a much more indepth novel, that many scholars today view as the veiled autobiography of the author, David Copperfield.

Dickens's stories were written with purpose. He used his own life experiences as fodder for story settings, character relationships, and plot development. He had a phenomenal, nearly photographic, memory of people and places that had passed through his life. This is considered a rare trait among authors.

Every story Dickens ever wrote had a purpose. He was one of the few authors of his time who did not fear the retributions of the gentry, or powers that be, in making his point. He was lauded by authors such as Orwell, Tolstoy, and Chesterton for his ability to present realism. The underlying themes of his works were the very events directly effecting the people of the time. His favorites seemed to be: greed and the deplorable treatment of the impoverished in London. It was this realism that captured the hearts and minds of his readers, and caused authors, such as Henry James and Virginia Woolf, to all but despise him as an author, and a man. They considered his works to be melodramatic, overly sentimental, and most assuredly implausible.

Dickens was not what would be considered a well-educated man of the time. He was forced to drop out of school to help the family rectify the financial woes in which they found themselves. Like David Copperfield, Dickens was forced to work long hours in a blacking warehouse. His father, mother and eleven brothers and sisters were taken to a debtor's prison.

One benefit of life Dickens possessed was the ability to read and write. He was an avid reader from a young age, which gave him an expansive vocabulary; something every author must possess. Although his life was a struggle from the beginning, Dickens identified and used his strengths to improve his situation.

Today, two hundred years after his birth, Dickens  is still one of the most beloved, and read, of the English authors. The reasons are as many as the readers who love his works. Scholars believe the reason is Charles Dickens wrote with purpose; a purpose that elevated the ideals of humanity, which still live on today in the hearts and minds of readers world-wide. His novels present life as it is, as it should be, or could be; but most importantly shine as a beacon of hope in the darkest days of our history.

It is my belief that the most successful writers, in any genre, are those who write with a purpose. Every word, sentence, and paragraph carefully crafted to convey some meaning, or thought provoking idea. Writing with purpose takes courage, time, patience, and most assuredly practice.

Are you writing with purpose?