S. Jay Bose


How I Became a Writer

Photo of S. Jay Bose

Sometime in the fall of 2018, I had a dream of a young boy who – while perched on the top of the armoire (of all places) in my bedroom – told me about a great battle he had been in.

I looked at him suspiciously. He was a boy after all, round-faced and cherubic, hardly the image of a battle-scarred warrior. Yet, I listened.  I like stories you see. And besides I had nowhere else to go – I was literally trapped in my own dream.

Noticing my predicament, the boy took his time telling me his war story, peering at me from time to time to gauge my reaction.  I nodded along (more out of politeness than interest), and when the boy had finished his story, he leaned back against the wall, folded his arms and observed:

“You don’t recognize me, do you?”

I shook my head.

“I’m Dumpty.”

I stared at him. “Like Humpty-Dumpty who sat on a wall and came tumbling down?”

He nodded.

“Where’s Humpty?” I asked, interested.

Dumpty frowned. “Humpty doesn’t like being a ghost.”

“You’re a ghost?” A shiver ran down my spine. I pulled the duvet over my head seeking its protection.

He nodded again (I think).

“Are you a friendly ghost?” I ventured from under the covers.

“I can be.”

That was promising. I risked a peek. “What does that mean?”

“It depends on whether you’ll help me.”


Dumpty waited.  I got the sense he expected more from me.

I mulled over my options, chewing thoughtfully on my lower lip. I stole a glance at Dumpty and saw him watching me, perched like a frog on the top of my armoire. I sized him up for a sucker.

“How much will you pay me for helping you?” I demanded, a mixture of hope and belligerence in my voice.

Dumpty’s eyes bore into me like a laser. I thought it would crack my skull. I ducked under my duvet again.

I  heard him sigh. “Shakespeare was right – the first thing we should do is kill all the lawyers.”

“You want to kill me?” I asked shaken, a part of me wondering how he’d figured out I was a lawyer.

“I might. As I said, it all depends on you.”

Lawyers are not heroes, even if we like to think so. My life seemed to hang in the balance – on the whim of this cherubic-faced kid who had transformed himself into a sinister version of Casper the friendly ghost. My dream was quickly turning into a nightmare. I surrendered.

“Ok, Ok, tell me what you want me to do, and I’ll do it!”

I could feel the weight of Dumpty’s smirk like a pile of sand dumped on my duvet-covered head. “Good. You can come out from under that duvet now,” he ordered.

I came out.

Dumpty came down from the armoire. When I say came down, I meant he took a flying leap and landed directly on my bed, which is a good distance of ten feet. The kid belongs in a circus, I thought impressed.

He sidled up closer to me.  He cupped his hands to my ear, and this is what he said:

“I don’t want to scare you, but I really am a ghost. I have flitted through time like you would not believe. I have been to places you cannot even begin to imagine. And I've seen things that would make your eyes pop and I've heard things that would make your jaw drop, and then some.   It isn't easy being a ghost - I'm there and yet not there if you catch my drift.  And being there and not being there at the same time unfortunately allows people to take liberties with me. They unburden themselves when they should KEEP THEIR MOUTHS SHUT. ZIPPED.” His voice rose to a shout - like a demented banshee - piercing my eardrums. I fell off my bed.

Dumpty stared accusingly at me as I lay slumped on the floor, as if people not keeping their mouths shut was all my fault.  I nodded meekly.

He looked mollified. “The upside to being a ghost,” he said in a friendlier tone, “is that I've accumulated a lot of stories. It's been heavy work carrying these stories around with me for such a long time, that I've grown weary. And after some serious reflection  - that is, staring at myself in the mirror and seeing stories floating about where my head should be – I’ve come to a decision. I've decided to unburden myself and become a writer.  A writer of stories.”

I was impressed. “A famous writer?” I asked.

Dumpty hesitated. “I’d like to think so.”

“You can, you know,” I said, trying to get on his good side. “I can see you have real talent.” 

“You think so?”

“Yes, yes I do!” I confirmed. I peeled myself off the floor and sat beside him on the bed. I took hold of his little hand and gurgled in admiration. “You had me spellbound by that story you told me,” I lied.

Dumpty seemed pleased. “That was a good story, wasn’t it?”

I nodded. For the life of me I couldn’t remember the story, but I wasn’t going to let on. The kid had me scared.

“So, when can I read your first novel?” I shifted gears quickly, assuming the role of his literary agent without being asked. (I’d read somewhere literary agents owned nice vacation homes in Greece, and I could see myself living there.)

Dumpty frowned. I had a feeling he was going to burst my bubble.

“Well, that’s just it you see,” he sighed. “I’ve haven’t written my novel yet. The thing is I need a writer.”

“What? But you said you wanted to be a writer!” This kid was getting on my nerves.

“Yes, but I don’t want to write." He looked thoughtful, gazing at me with his large, round and protruding eyes. "I want you to write for me," he decided. "I’ll give you the stories and you do the writing.”

I was confused. “You want me to be a ghost-writer?”

Dumpty nodded, looking pleased. “That’s it! I couldn’t have said it better – I’m the ghost and you’re the writer. That makes sense, doesn’t it?”

I could see his point.

“But why?” I persisted, still not understanding why he wanted me to write for him.

And then it all came out and I knew my destiny was sealed.

“I’m very sensitive,” sighed Dumpty. “Since childhood I’ve never liked being criticized.”

His eyes started rolling around in his head. I think he was remembering all the times he’d been criticized. I gazed at him, trying to look sympathetic. But it wasn’t easy – we lawyers are not the caring types; we don’t go around holding hands and singing Kumbaya. Shakespeare did have a point, I had to admit.

The eye-rolling stopped. “I hear that all writers – even famous ones – get criticized. Is it true?”

As his potential future literary agent, I had to break it to him. “Yes,” I muttered under my breath.

“See, that would make me very upset,” Dumpty shouted, his eyes rolling faster and faster like a Dutch windmill under water. “I won’t stand for it - especially being criticized by people who don’t even know me! It would really hurt my feelings.” He glared at me. “And you know what happens then, don’t you?”

“What?” I bleated, horrified by his shouting and eye-rolling.

“Hurt people, hurt people. Especially ghosts.”

It took a moment to sink in. I gulped. “You wouldn’t hurt me, would you?”

The shouting and eye-rolling stopped. Dumpty calmed down. He even smiled at me.  I could feel pressure at my back. Someone was twisting my arm. It hurt like hell.

“Ok, Ok, I’ll be your ghost writer,” I yelped. “I’ll take all the criticism for your stories. I swear no one will ever criticize you again!”

And that, my friends, is the true story of how I became a writer.