This is a re-post from my blog over at http://saracrawford.net but I thought it was appropriate given how involved I’ve been in the world of YA fiction lately.
Above is a picture of me holding an apple in front of the Forks sign when my friend Lauryn and I stopped in this town on our way to the Hoh Rainforest. I thought it was appropriate for this post.
I’ve been completely engrossed in the world of young adult fiction lately, working on my novel. I started describing my novel as Twilight meets The Perks of Being a Wallflower, and it occurred to me that that was actually pretty accurate. And I felt like making a blog post about Twilight.
Confession time. I like Twilight, and I respect Stephenie Meyer.
Okay. Before you start disowning me (I’m looking at you literary snob friends), let me explain. First of all, when a close friend of mine gave me the first Twilight book to read, I knew nothing about it. It so happened that I was going through a really depressing and challenging breakup, and when I started reading, I was so wrapped up in the novel that I didn’t think about my personal life. It was a complete escape for me. Being a huge fan of the Pacific Northwest, I could easily lose myself in a fantasy that had the magical forests of Washington as its backdrop. I felt this way as I read the rest of the series, too. I wanted to know what happened. I was engrossed in the plot. This is one reason I love stories. They can provide a complete escape from reality.
Alright, I’ll admit that the whole series does have serious problems from a feminist point of view. Bella is not a very strong female character. She has no aspirations of her own, really, and her entire world revolves around these men, etc. etc. And yes, it is also true that the series has issues from a literary standpoint, especially if you break down the actual structure of the book or if you start dissecting it. And sure, the whole “Jacob imprinting on the baby” thing still creeps me out, and I have issues with some of the religious messages that come across. Yes, I also think these novels may send a negative message to young girls about co-dependency. These are all true things and why most people dislike the series.
The reason I respect Stephenie Meyer is that she created a story that she loved, a story she was passionate about, characters she obviously loved, and an entire world that millions of others wanted to escape into. Any true literary fan has to respect that much at least. There are a lot of younger people who may have gotten into reading in general because of Twilight, and that is an amazing thing. And I don’t think she consciously set out to be overly religious or anti-feminist or anything else. I think she just wrote a story that she fell in love with, and all of those other things subconsciously came through because of who she is and the things that she believes. And that is why I respect her.
Spending two and a half years in classes with some pretentious students who were ALWAYS trying to impress everyone else with how witty or intelligent they could be in their writing, it was so refreshing to go back and re-read Twilight. Here is a book that a woman wrote simply for the sheer joy of storytelling, and that is definitely evident when you read it. She didn’t care what people thought about it. She didn’t care about all of these “literary rules.” She just wanted to write a story about these characters she had a dream about and thought were interesting.
Also, I am sick of negativity and criticism in general. Just let people like what they like. If Twilight makes someone happy, why is that a bad thing? And I think Twilight fans get more hate than usual because it is mostly females in the fandom. Other books/movies/TV shows that are predominately enjoyed by males are not criticized nearly as much, though they may be just as “low brow.”
So I was trying to capture everything I loved about the experience of first reading Twilight–before I analyzed it from a literary standpoint and was simply engrossed in the plot–when I wrote my novel. I just wanted to write a story that was important to me. I just wanted to write a story about characters I had grown to fall in love with. And hopefully, other people will enjoy it the way I have. And maybe someday it will give someone else a much-needed escape from a bad breakup. And that’s all I ever really want with my art anyway.