Dream a Little Dream

What is your dream?

This question was originally posted on Writers Support Writersa blog that I visit every now and then — and reposted on another blog that I follow. Everyone was invited to share their dreams.

I didn’t. I’m shy when it comes to exchanging thoughts and comments with other bloggers. Sometimes I can overcome my diffidence; other times I can’t. It’s never easy. As with small talk, this kind of communication doesn’t come spontaneously to me. (This explains why I so often don’t do more than give you a “like” and I’ll be grateful if you understand that.

But like everyone else, I do have dreams, and I am comfortable talking about them here in my own space.

Long before I became a writer, I was a dreamer. It all started with reading as a child. I believe I mentioned in one of my earlier posts that, when I was about five, my aunt bought me a collection of fairy tales illustrated with lavish, flamboyant, baroque-style images. Once I learned to appreciate the art of book illustration, I starter seeing other breathtaking examples. However, none of them had the magic that was pouring from the pages of my first picture books. (Although… Recently I came across an illustrator that seems to be practicing similar “alchemy”. His name is Vladislav Yerko and here are his illustrations of Snow Queen and The Little Prince.)

Those picture books set my imagination on fire. I told and retold the stories in my head, adding places, events and characters, inventing their family members, relatives, friends and foes. In each of these tales, there was a role for me as well. The “happily ever after” wasn’t the end, but a new beginning. Children would be born and grow, Snow White and her prince would visit Princess Aurora and her family, the evil stepmother would turn up again and cause trouble. The seven dwarves would move into a house in the forest near Snow White and the Price’s castle, and in the same forest lived a bewitched dragon who would become a man again when his true love broke the spell… And who else who would do that better than Snow White’s best friend—me.

In short, it wasn’t happily ever after until I said so.

Naturally, my reading needs grew as I grew, but I never lost the ability to insert myself into stories that I felt connected to. I would fall in love with male characters. I would modify the storyline and when I wasn’t happy with the end, I would re-write it in my head.

Oddly enough, I never wanted to become a writer; my entire life I’ve dreamed of being an Egyptologist. I was a passionate reader, though, and I devoured everything that would catch my attention. I read nonfiction and popular fiction. I was a big fan of comic books and graphic novels, but the primary reading materials of my youth and adolescence were classical and classic books. I also read a lot of modern contemporary literary fiction. Being a writer would mean to create such literature and I knew I simply wasn’t good enough. Not then and not now.

When I came to Canada and learned English, my reading inclinations shifted toward pleasure and escapism. Better still, that kind of fiction was even more suitable for my imaginative meddling with stories. Somewhere there, between the countless fantasies, romances, mysteries, thrillers, science fiction, contemporary, historical, normal and paranormal novels, great, good and not so good reads, I realized I want and probably could write a book.

What followed was like a mild madness, a grip of passion, an unimaginable pleasure of making my own world. That creative fever produced two full-sized novels in two years. Later, I would add to my opus a collection of love stories and a novella. Recognition and financial gain didn’t follow, but disheartening as it was, it didn’t surprise me. Perhaps it was because I knew from the beginning that I was writing for myself more than for others. It was my dream — to write, to create my own imaginary realm that I could visit  whenever I wanted, to hold printed copies in my hands, as physical proof that I did it. Somehow readers found my books (most of the time they’re free on Smashwords); quite a few really liked them and several of them became my friends.

Some of that imaginative fire — or my dreams, if you want — eventually burned out. The reasons were numerous; internal and external. Some I could control and some others I couldn’t, like having a full time job and tons of other duties and obligations. I always wanted more time to write, but ironically, when I got it, during the pandemic, I couldn’t write. I’m getting older and my energy level is lower. I have some serious issues with my eyes…

Anyhow, I still feel privileged. Knowing how to make fictional characters real is an extraordinary beautiful ability. There is a  werewolf or a vampire or a dragon called Temeraire, and they’re more real to you than your co-worker. I did that, too. My friend Judy told me she had a crush on one of my characters. This is one of the greatest compliments I’ve ever received. The same goes with the ability to live, in a sense, in the universe I conceived.

These days I need more time to flesh my characters out, more effort to conjure my world. Some authors are able to write from the “outside” of their stories. I can’t. I need to be in: I have to be in love with my heroes, fragments of me have to be in my heroines, I have to offer a tiny bit of myself to every person in my book, even to villains. I need to live out their pains and aches, joys and triumphs, anger and disappointments, fears and traumas. Whatever they do, feel and think has to be filtered through me. I don’t know any other ways to write.

And that’s my dream now. To never lose this magic.


About jfkaufmann

Not unlike my characters, I lead a double life: by day I'm a mother, a friend, a colleague, and the queen of my kitchen. When the moon rises, however, I shift into my other self and, as Queen of the Night, I reign the magical world of my imagination.
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6 Responses to Dream a Little Dream

  1. I know what you mean by writing from the inside of a story, rather than the outside. That must be why my go-to point of view for writing fiction is first person.
    It’s interesting that I also have had a lifelong interest in ancient Egypt and archaeology, and became a librarian and a writer!

    Liked by 1 person

    • jfkaufmann says:

      Thank you for your comment! You’re right about POV – I also use first person. I did try third person narration and it just didn’t work.
      As of our fascination with Egypt, I completely understand it. I’ve been in love with it since my fifth grade and our very first lesson about Ancient Egypt. I was fortunate to visit it back in 1991. A mesmerizing experience!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. What a beautiful homage to your writing. I hope you create many more dragons and princes.

    Liked by 1 person

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