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Count Dracumite

The creativity of childhood unleashed

By S. A. CrawfordPublished 6 months ago 4 min read
Photo by cottonbro studio: https://www.pexels.com/photo/a-person-in-red-sweater-making-a-christmas-letter-6140236/

Tongue sticking from between milk teeth, I carefully dragged a steaming tea bag across the paper; I wanted it to look old. I wanted it to have the 'mysterious book found in an old library, filled with secrets' kind of feeling. My mum sometimes tells people I am a born writer; this is not true. I am a born storyteller - writing, as a hobby and daily pursuit, came long after this moment.

It was everything a story should be, to my mind; filled with adventure, dangers, and a thoroughly happy ending. I called it 'Count Dracumite' and it was about a vampire flea who ran a flea circus that travelled within a larger circus.

You see, we had just been to the circus, my family and I, and I was high on the smell of popcorn, the lights, and the sounds. It seemed like the most fun, glamorous, cool job in the world, to me. I wanted a slice of that world for myself, so I cracked out the paper, PVA glue, and a collection of felt tip pens and I wrote a book.

As a child it made perfect sense; a little girl goes to the circus where she meets a tiny flea, a vampire flea, who asks for her help. He's hiding from his old enemy, you see. A cat with a moustache, and because he's a polite vampire flea he asks to hide out in the little girls hair. She helps him to evade the cat, who is travelling with a rival show (a wrestling show, not a circus) until his show leaves town. While he's there, he helps her to win a school competition.

This is when I discovered the joy of funnelling ideas from my busy brain onto a clean, blank page. It felt like creation. Like making all those games I played with my friends into something that could be touched and held. I worked on it for a whole weekend, writing and re-writing, drawing illustrations, and even a cover page. When I look back now, however, I see something other than a childs' first attempt at fiction.

Self-Insert Fiction with a Twist

As I got ready to enter this challenge, I turned that story in my mind over and over, trying to figure out what felt so familiar about it. You see, these days, my stories are a little less whimsical and carefree. I admit to being the type of writer who loves an allegory and complex prose.

But there is a thread that connects this first foray into fiction with my more recent works; the idea of being a vehicle for someone elses' story. When we start writing, we often insert ourselves into our stories somehow. We create a main character that embodies the parts of ourselves that we like, or detest, the most and give them a story worth telling.

I did something a little different, and I'm not surprised. You see, I'm one of nature's passive, cautious creatures; I often joke that in the ocean of life, I'm a jellyfish - content to go where the current takes me.

My narrator was not the main character of the story in Count Dracumite: she was neither the focus of the action nor the titular figure. She was, quite literally, a vehicle for the focal character of the story. She experienced the story with me; she was me, the author, carrying the little flea from point A to B to C.

Allegories from Anomalies

I personified the role of the author, long before I understood it, but even today I favour passive narrators. Main characters who are not really the focal point of the piece; the ordinary person placed in extraordinary circumstances, my main characters are rarely powerful, magical, or special. They scramble and struggle, and often deny their own stories, being dragged into the fray with blood on their chin.

Now, I'm working on a piece that is, coincidentally, also about a bug - though a far less pleasant one. With the working title The Wasp it is ostensibly a gross body horror novel about a parasitic wasp that lays eggs into the abdomen of the unsuspecting main character.

Like so many of my characters, she is reluctant to be pushed into the limelight, but what marks her out is that she has no choice. She is the focal point of the story, whether she likes it or not and she must endure. This the change; as I have aged, I've come to understand that I cannot always be passive. I cannot always let the currents of life take me to and fro.

Of course, there is a difference. A huge one; my stories now are more complex. Count Dracumite was the simplest possible narrative; the narrator helps the titular hero to evade danger. Nothing truly changes; the status quo remains. There are no real layers in the narrative... why would there be, it was written by an eight year old after all; it's all about creative expression.

The Wasp will be an allegory for the helplessness that comes when we do not have full autonomy of our body, fuelled by personal anger. But I do wonder, now and then, if that child is peeking from the corners of the adult narratives when I write, with a flourish, a slightly absurd, irreverant line.


About the Creator

S. A. Crawford

Writer, reader, life-long student - being brave and finally taking the plunge by publishing some articles and fiction pieces.

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  • Kendall Defoe 6 months ago

    Count Dracumite... Very creative name... 😉

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