Welcome from Amy D. Unsworth

Language, Literature, Learning & Life.

Blogs & Charles Dickens

As regular visitors might notice (Hi Glenn!) I've recently updated the blog's look and added the tags. This update made me aware of the blog's serialization of my life. And I noticed that I am always reading other people's blogs as mini-autobiographies or fictions. I follow several blogs quite regularly and it is interesting to watch the "lives" unfold there. (However "mediated" these may be, some strive for more fictionalization than others.) Which reminds me of Charles Dickens and raises questions about the writing life. So, a theory to discuss.

Dickens wrote a great deal of quality work. Is it possible that the actual process of serialization helps a writer develop? I can think of these benefits (even if Dickens didn't do these):
  • You have to show up to write, but you don't have to write it all today.
  • You have to have something exciting/important/gripping happen in regular intervals to keep the reader's attention so they'll buy the next version, but doesn't this help maintain interest in the long (novel) form too?
  • The possibility of feedback? If you have a bad episode, the readers might complain! But you have a chance to fix it before the printers set the type for the long version!
  • Offers a chance to let the characters develop as they will, instead of having to map out an entire book at once. (I don't know enough about Dickens to know if he did write this way, but it seems like it might be a positive thing. Any Dickens scholars out there?)
  • The possibility to use/exploit current events in your story line. ( the news in poetry?)
I feel as if the blog helps me formulate ideas that I might otherwise let slip into oblivion. It helps me keep a record of what I'm doing and thinking about for future reference. It helps to have a real readership to think of, rather than some abstract vague audience. I realize that having a reader to think of makes be be more accurate when I write and try to fill in specifics and details. When I go back and read old entries, I am amazed at how much detail I don't recall of those moments. I'm greedy, I don't want to lose a single thought.

I came across a Latin quote that seems to sum the idea up nicely:
Sic transit gloria mundi (thus passes the glory of the world). I don't know the source or context of this quote yet (a grave inscription?), so allow me to put it in a context for myself for today: There is glory (truth, beauty, things to be grateful for, love, learning, pleasure) in each of the moments passing through our lives. It is there, in the quotidian, waiting for us to acknowledge it.


Glenn Ingersoll said...

In the before blogging era I would reread my diary and find it really boring. I stopped keeping a diary for awhile then came back to it. When I did I tried to push myself to write with more detail, to narrate incidents rather than abbreviate them. This does make rereading the diary both more interesting and less likely to leave one saying Huh? Though it is more work! (&, I tell myself, good practice for a writer.)

Not too different with the blogs. At first LuvSet was an open version of the diary, then I hurt my honey's feelings by airing an unresolved argument. So I limit the personal blogging.

Amy D. Unsworth said...

Hi Glenn,

I agree that it isn't always the best to blog the very personal issues of one's life. I'm writing about my thinking life, my working life & a bit about how cancer has changed my focus and my writing. (It's had a huge impact on both my thinking life & working life.) But, I'm leaving the private aspects out. If I wouldn't tell it to someone I know in passing, it probably isn't going to show up on the blog. But then again, there aren't that many people around who want to talk poetry on the street, so there is quite a bit more conversation about poetry here, than in my casual conversations elsewhere.

What I find most amazing, is that I read old journals (and even a poem now and again) and I can't really recall the event described. And I think you're right that the journaling & blogging are good practice for a writing life.

Thanks for stopping by!