In light of the 10 year anniversary of the first Twilight movie, I think this is a good time to re-visit my own quiet little moment on the series – both books & films.
I think poor ole Stephenie Meyer has been copping the raw prawn for too long and that includes her own self-bashing she was probably compelled to do less she look like a diva.
Here’s my riveting account why I think we should re-adjust the poo-pooing of her writing.
Many years ago I gave birth to my son and discovered the Fleet Foxes. It was a big year. The trials of late night breastfeeding soon had me sniffing around for something to sink my literary teeth into and to stop me from falling asleep atop of my suckling infant.
My husband being an EXTREMELY light sleeper and my son a grunting little spring piggy at feed time, was not an ideal combination. The tv in our room was like the sun and mobile phones were no where near as capable as they are today, so I needed another option.
I went on the hunt for a good book I could read usually around 2:30 in the morning that didn’t require a degree in English.
My friends recommended Twilight…
“Can’t write worth a damn”
… well if Stephen King says so.
I must admit, a few years ago when taking one of my first photos for social media of piles of books stacked in our new laundry – I removed the infamous black books from the frame. I honestly don’t know why. I had carried them around like the bible when I first got them. Someone offered to lend me their copy which I declined. I wanted my own.These stories that once had pride of place have, up until very recently sat on the floor level cube of our old Ikea bookshelf – until I dusted them off today.The final movie had a big sway over my thoughts towards the series. The craft of the first film was a shadow of the last – which seemed the poster girl of money murdering art.
At our writers group the topic of Twilight came up very briefly and it was both in the yay and the nay. Nay regarding the “appalling writing if you can even call it that” and yay that the author went on to make a bucket load of money and reaped much success.
From the direction the conversation briefly took there must have been a previous session where the books were discussed and by the sounds of it ripped apart. Which, no matter how much success she has had – this seems to be Stephenie Meyers fate forever more – to be the punch line and punching bag of writers who make it big on supposedly talentless, souless formulas and ‘weak-minded’ target markets like “tweens & moms“.
By the time I started to read the series the first movie had begun. I am always late to mainstream hysteria – it makes me nervous and as I was experiencing my own pregnancy excitement, the whole Twilight thing was a bit of a nothing for me.
It wasn’t until I went to visit my dear friends with my freshly baked bub that I learned the true power of these books and of the beginnings of the “Twi-moms” thing.
My “Twi-Mum” mates happen to be VERY strong, resilient women who do not suffer fools. They have a bullshit-less approach to life and whenever we are together I get a headache from all the laughter we share. I love them both so much and wish they were more a part of my crazy life.
“Know Your Market”
These ladies were the last people on the planet I would expect to be fangirling over a friggen book. It was a shock that they even read books, which both of them admitted they didn’t and this was one of the first things they had read – unforced – since high school, that they couldn’t put down.
Stephenie Meyer, a mum herself, wrote to escape and probably relive her own youthful self into a romantic world in all its imagined glory. That’s what writers do, right?
And lets face it, as your partner rolls over and goes into a snoring slumber – that’s what millions of women do too. Design fantasy worlds of their own delicious creation where we are younger, hotter, tauter and Jake Gyllenhaul is all up for some of that. And it appears many of us were yearning for some old-worldly, genteel fashioned chivalry from a bronzed quaffed pasty vein chomper.
That’s what hooked the non-readers like my friend. Meyer basically recreated a grungy 90s teenager who appealed to a shit tonne of women still young enough to relate fondly. Bella reflected their former selves, or a similar version. Everyone was irritated and felt out of place in the 90s and if you weren’t you were aware of the greyness of being a gen x teen.
Whether intentional, or heavily influenced by her Mormon faith is irrelevant. Her tale of aloof love reeled in every walk of life from the educated, to atheists, to the breastfeeding Mum’s who didn’t want to wake up their grumpy-ass husbands in the middle of the night.
For my friend – cemented in suburbia, choring out all the mundane domestic bullshit of her day – this was an awakening. Suddenly words were written on the page in such a way that she was no longer scraping dry cornflakes off the back of a chair – she was falling in love in the crisp forests of Forks with the rarest creature of all – a hot male with manners.
Not only did it feel like it was happening to her, she started to behave like she was Bella Swan, swooning over Edward and fluttering on about their love. My girlfriend couldn’t have given a rats arse about the feminist aspects (or lack of), or Edwards apparent controlling behaviour, or the supposed weak elements of Bella’s character. The flawed, clutzy and needing-to-be-rescued-by-someone-who-treated-her-with-graceful-delight was the shit she found appealing.
She would probably smack a soppy vampire out if she came across him. But a polite, attentive, sweet, tender caring human is so far removed from her reality, she relished in what made others cringe. She felt lighter and every time on re-entering the books, the monotony of her life floated away.
No wonder millions of women succumbed.
Hind site makes every second Joe Blogger an expert (she says expertly blogging about it), however if a positive came from the phenomenal success of Twilight – it was that ordinary women picked up a book, actually read it and experienced the magic of escaping.
Who gives a shit if it wasn’t a literary masterpiece. I didn’t mind her writing, she writes how she talks and it was relatable. I’ll admit I too fell a little under the Twilight spell and it definitely lifted my breastfeeding game.
If I am truly honest, the light and sweet stories soothed my undiagnosed PTS and I adored what she created. I cared and loved her characters and still do. It was therapeutic escapism. Isn’t that what a good book is all about? Escaping?
She was also one of the main reasons I slowly took up writing again. Not in a – if she found success then I can definitely do it too – way. No. It was that she was a normal woman who had a dream – an actual real one, flipped it and had success.
And that’s what I think is misinterpreted. She wrote a story with a voice that spoke to the average person who remembered that delicious, youthy feeling of loving, lusting and obsessing over someone.
My only gripe is a common one – the over use of unequivocally and irrevocably. Good bloody grief. But who the hell am I to judge – I haven’t even written a book let alone had it poorly edited.
A good writer is a magician. A good writer will transport you to a place you want to return to. A good writer will have you thinking of their world and its inhabitants for weeks, months, years after.
Stephenie Meyer had a crack, spoke to the masses and reaped the rewards. An ordinary Mum who was once an ordinary teenager, had a story to share that came from a place not driven by monetary gain, nor literary notoriety.
Perhaps later on her mindset shifted and who wouldn’t take advantage of a formula that not only pleases so many – but sells a shit tonne of books and gets you movie deals.
The rise of the AI author is upon us and no doubt they will be looking at formulas and algorithms of authors like Meyer who, no matter what anyone may think of her writing style, had a global literary impact.
If anything she should be applauded for giving so many the opportunity to enjoy the sheer pleasure of reading. Women and girls who may have never found such joy in the written word, had Meyer not penned her stories.
This will be a series I’ll encourage my daughter to read when she shows an interest in books… or boys… or girls… or vampires… or really shockingly bad CGI enhanced werewolves.