Tuesday, October 19, 2010

In Defense of Twilight

I'll admit it freely. I love Stephenie Meyer's Twilight series. My twelve-year-old daughter and I read all four tomes this summer, and just like all the other females in the theater for the third movie version, I swooned over the actors and cried at the end.

I know I'm not supposed to like what many who are well-read have dismissed, saying the series has "too many adjectives and adverbs" and the characters are "too Byronic." The nay-saying doesn't stop me from delighting in the delicious adventure and romance, and I thing the reason is because Meyer never lets me down. So many authors set up a story and then don't take it where we want it to go. Meyer's simple love story is about characters who the reader really gets to know and care about, and then she gives them a happy ending. Very satisfying.

At first I felt jealous of the Cullen family, the vampires who love and respect each other and have fun hunting and playing baseball together. It occurred to me, though, that my family could have that, too, and without the problems of immortality. It may seem strange that it took Twilight to show me that if I put some effort into finding interesting things to do as a family we would become closer, but there it is. Now we fight over mini golf scores and over who gets to decide where to go on our next bike ride. My kids now know that I will get grouchy if I don't break eighty when we go bowling, but through it all we have managed to develop more love and respect for each other.

Twilight also changed the way I write. Before reading the saga, I wrote plot-driven stories with cliff-hanger chapter endings, using exciting devices like portals and stolen pearls; the protagonists were hauled around by the story, which was fun, but not personally rewarding. Through her writing, Meyer reminded me it's okay to write what I want to read. She has given me the courage to create characters I care about because they want to do the right thing even when circumstances get in the way.

My writing has taken a much more selfish turn as I allow myself to hang out with the caring but wounded characters I like to create. Sitting down to my computer with a cup of coffee warming my hands feels like a delicious, guilty pleasure. And isn't that what writing should feel like? Maybe later, though, I'll make my family go bowling with me to see if I can improve my score.