So why do so many of us put them in our books? Mea as culpea as anyone, though I do try and limit them to one per book. But no one can stop us blogging about them. . .
I dreamt about a cartoon-like caterpillar, shades of Alice in Wonderland, or Gary from Sponge Bob, only this one was encased in a translucent cube about a centimetre high. And it was a serious dream: the creature in the cube - or maybe the cube was part of the creature - needed to escape, and somehow I was responsible.
Don't go yet - there is a point to this post.
I've started reading Clarice Lispector's The Passion According to G.H., in which 'a well-to-do Rio sculptress enters the room of her maid, which is as clear and white as in an insane asylum...There she sees a cockroach...' - though I haven't got there yet; in the opening pages we are strictly in G.H's consciousness, and she is 'searching... searching... trying to understand', as is the reader.
Then - no segue - there's my new must-watch TV programme, Nature's Weirdest Events, in which we were treated last night to images of midge larvae - would you look at his little face.
My subconscious mind appears to have combined the maid's bedroom, and the midge, and made - to sleeping me - a quite gripping story. There's the unique character we care about (we do!), there's danger, and rising tension (literally; my cube critter was on an escalator and it was about to reach the top, the bit where you get sucked into the machinery...).
And that's my point. Stories are created by the coming together of disparate ideas, conscious and subconscious. It's just a matter of catching them in the act.