The short stories I have been publishing in the weekly magazine Nisf Al-Dunya under the title »Ahlam Fatrat Al-Naqaha« (»Dreams of the recuperation period«) may be based on real dreams. But the dream only partly informs the published story, because I work on the initial idea for a long time before I can turn it into a literary text.
I dream of an immense space. But what is happening there, which events might communicate to the reader my sense of that immensity? All this has little to do with the dream itself, and were I to abide by the limitations of the dream, I would merely describe the space. That is not a story. Each of the stories begins with a dream, and each transcends the dream in question. Only then does it become literature.
Some dreams need very little work indeed: the slightest touch is sufficient to turn them into stories. Others, perhaps most comprise a mere image or feeling; in that case one has to work almost from scratch. In the past I used to get my ideas while talking to people on the streets and in cafes during my waking life. Now that such engagement has stopped for health reasons, my source of inspiration was cut off. I believe that is why I have turned to dreams as a source of inspiration.
Based on an interview by Mohamed Salmawy. Al-Ahram Weekly Online, 23.-29. November 2000, Issue No. 509. © Copyright Al-Ahram Weekly. All rights reserved.