January 28th, 2016

A couple of thoughts on The Art of Effective Dreaming

Today is a bad day that has been redeemed by readers. Several people have this week talked publicly about The Art of Effective Dreaming. This week. Just when I assumed it had lapsed into the half-oblivion of not-quite-new books that don't give the right resonance to last.

In fact people are talking a bit about The Time of the Ghosts as well, but I didn't need reminding of Ghosts. I needed reminding of Dreaming. And besides, Ghosts < is still my new book.

The reason for the title was to hint at the book's origins. It all started with one of my favourite poems of all time and I've said this before and I'll say it again, every time I get this eye-blinking "it worked" moment. I love Prevert and I loved his extended art metaphor in his poem about painting a picture of a bird and I wanted to make an extended novel metaphor of his extended art metaphor and I wanted it to be real enough so that people saw the character and followed her dreams and felt her realities as I depicted them.

Simon Brown saw the folktale side of it. Kyla Ward saw other things. Both of them were right. This is the advantage of writing an extended metaphor. All the other components one puts into a novel fall into the framework very naturally. I put the fairytale and I put the horror and I put the folkish and I put the reality and I put many other things in that novel, all on purpose, for that extended framework was amazingly strong. (These aren't the readers who were talking about it today - their thoughts are earlier.)

It helped that it wasn't just any metaphor. I used a Sleeping Beauty one for Ms Cellophane, and that held some, but not as much and not with as great flexibility of interpretation. Prevert's art metaphor was perfect as it stood and had such wonderful emotional resonance that even though I was not very experienced way back then (because of the whole cursed novel affair, it was written fifteen years ago and published last year, which most of you know) it still worked as a novel.

I need to find another brilliant extended metaphor and try this again, now that I have more writing skills and can do a better job. In fact, ti's what I need for my 17th century novel. It won't be as easy to find the right metaphor without Prevert, though. That poem is exquisite.

I'm open to suggestions. Not of books. Of metaphors as good as Prevert's that are crying for interpretation and expression.