In Charles Dickens epic story, “A Christmas Carol”, we find two men (during Christmas future) talking about a funeral. We presume the funeral they are talking about is being given for Ebenezer Scrooge. Naturally, the two men are less than thrilled to be going and one of them suggests they will only go if a proper lunch is served. This touches off a rant by Ebenezer about the lack of feeling. He begs the ghost of Christmas future to take them somewhere or to see someone that shows some feeling or compassion at the man’s passing.
It’s not only possible to understand Ebenezer’s point of view but also the other men’s view as well. I’m not entirely sure I’d feel that thrilled with going to Ebenezer Scrooge’s funeral. But, I certainly can understand Ebenezer’s disquiet at the lack of feeling shown towards the man’s passing. Especially since he is getting the idea it is likely his own funeral.
In some ways, these are the fears that bother me as well. While I am super fortunate in a lot of ways. I have a lot of friends, great family, and I’m pretty sure I’d be missed if I were to pass from my earthly bonds; however, there is still a part of me that worries. At my funeral, laying in my casket, somebody might actually walk up and say, “Well, he’s dead. What’s for lunch?”
I think it’s the most human of conditions to worry about their place in history. Today I was at a book event and I had the good fortune of sharing a table with the talented writer, Susan Schwartz. She is a good friend and a fellow member of the Horror Writers Association. We were talking about the importance of being true to our writing and the reality that when we write something it is for posterity sake. Stephen King did a great job of illustrating this point in his book, “On Writing”. King suggests that if he writes about an object, for example a table, he is in effect sending that image through time. If the author has done a good enough job, someone in the future will see the table exactly as written. And, for a moment, they are connected.
I think that’s what makes Charles Dickens work so timeless. The time and settings may look drastically different from in his day, but the feelings haven’t changed. You still feel the men’s disdain for the person and Ebenezer’s desire to see some concern for the unfortunate soul.
I’m not suggesting that when I die I’ll be treated like Ebenezer Scrooge. As a matter fact, quite the opposite. I’m thankful I have people who love me and will miss me when I’m gone. However, some part of me hopes my words, my books, and my stories will continue long after I leave this earth. I hope that somebody reads one of my novels, and is curious enough about the person who wrote those words that they look me up in whatever passes as the futures Wikipedia.
Lest you think I have an overabundance of ego. I’d like to point out that I do the same thing today with the stories and novels that I read. You may do the same after reading a book by Douglas Adams, Charles Dickens, Alexandre Dumas, or William Shakespeare. It is human nature to want to know more about the author. While I certainly would never compare myself to those aforementioned gentlemen, I would like to think that somebody, somewhere, would look at my words and see what I saw. And for a brief moment I can be alive again. I think that’s the goal of all writers.
– Your Humble Servant,