"The story, the plot of a novel is of no interest to me. When I write a novel I aim at rendering a color, a shade. For instance, in my Carthaginian novel, I want to do something purple. The rest, the characters and the plot, is a mere detail. In Madame Bovary, all I wanted to do was to render a grey color, the moldy color of a wood-louse's existence. The story of the novel mattered so little to me that a few days before starting on it I still had in mind a very different Madame Bovary from the one I created: the setting and the overall tone were the same, but she was to have been a chaste and devout old maid. And then I realized that she would have been an impossible character." -- Flaubert, March 17, 1861
I've been trying to get this notion into various people's heads for a while now, and they just give me a blank look. They think a book is supposed to be about something. Not necessarily. And I know that whenever I create something, it inevitably takes on a life of its own. Sometimes it's a keeper; sometimes not. It's always a surprise.