What the Dickens?!

Have you ever started to say something, realized what a mistake you were making, and then successfully finished the sentence in another direction?

Yeah, me neither. I mean, I’ve tried, but even when I’ve stuttered my way through a semi-coherent replacement sentence, there’s always that feeling that the person listening can see right through me.

They must be thinking, He paused. He blushed. That sentence barely made sense. What was he really going to say?

Don’t believe me? An example:

Camp Host Chad smiled, certain he was about to make a hilarious pun. “Hey,” he said, “do you ever feel like a giant as…”
Sentence Starter

Then he paused, noticing his friend’s impressionable children listening in, and thought to himself, <Uh-oh… Thorns ahead!>

Thorns Ahead!

He scrambled to think of something giant. Something innocent. Like a player on the $20,000 Pyramid game show, he told himself, <Say something you find in a church!>

“…er, um, giant organ?”

Giant Organ

<Yikes! That’s ten times worse. They all look confused. I can still fix this! I’ll play dumb and obscure everything with nonsense.>

“No! Wait! No! I meant giant asterisk!”

Giant Asterisk

See? Awwwwwk-ward.

Remember how Charles Dickens used to publish his books AS he wrote them? If not, let me refresh you.

He would write the beginning, publish in a newspaper or a magazine, write the next few chapters, publish (sustaining the weekly or monthly schedule), repeating until reaching the end of the story, then all would be republished in book format, one masterpiece after another without revisions or a chance to go back and fix what no longer worked.

I, on the other hand, wrote this and this and this and posted each segment as I progressed. There’s supposed to be a final “this,” but…

What I wrote? Waaaayyyy too complicated! I couldn’t reach a satisfactory ending! (Unrelated fact: Dickens was paid by the word, and I write for free.)

My theory = Charles Dickens wrote a whole bunch of “starter stories” that they maybe even published but he never resolved. More resilient orphans, Easter ghosts, the conflicts and romances between neighboring haberdashery and millinery shops — who knows what classics have been abandoned mid-telling?

(Next unrelated fact/opinion: “A Tail of Two Kitties” would have made a purr-fect alternative story. See?)

Anyway, I tried to connect the following photos and failed, so I’m either abandoning them or starting over.

(Do you see it now? Music, fish, and storytelling. They relate — I just know it!)

There will likely be no conclusion to what I previously wrote. Sorry, friends.

4 thoughts on “What the Dickens?!

  1. That’s crazy re: Dickens. and paid by the word – fantastic – he made a lot of money then!
    There’s something really freeing to write with abandon though – just trust your instinct, write, publish, move on.
    Though there are a few “oldies” who are perhaps being a little too loose these days. Stephen King for one – his books are still fun, but a tad sloppy. And Margaret Atwood has been coasting for years – her last great book was Oryx and Crake – still, she’s still fun to read. Its just, perhaps if she had a little less fun, the books might be better?


  2. As if on cue, my child comes up behind me, again reading over my shoulder as I get to the a…., I mean, donkey, story. Good insight on Dickens, and other such writers who published in serials. How many lost (thank goodness) volumes?


    • I’d bet the lost serial novel volumes will be a drop in the proverbial word bucket once someone adds up all the useless blog posts. Good thing all mine are gold, eh? Remember that one about… Wait, nevermind.
      As for your parenting issues, I’m thinking you need to start reading while wearing bigger shoulder pads.


Leave a Reply

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

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com 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