Twilight et cetera

So it’s been awhile since I’ve last posted because I’ve been sick. Being sick makes me a miserable basket-case, and not wanting to inflict this upon you gentle readers, I abstained from blogging.

Some news: Michael and I applied for exchange on the weekend. This was tres exciting, not least of which because it compelled some EPIC pro-con lists, which I love. The lists were to establish our preferences as to which universities we were interested in, and keeping in mind that UoN’s list of partner universities is fairly limited (definitely no Harvard or Yale or anything like that) these are the ones we ended up choosing:

1. Virginia University  (http://www.virginia.edu/)

2. Western Washington University (http://www.wwu.edu/)

3. Ohio University (http://www.ohio.edu/)

So that’s a whole lot of fun. I’ve spent hours gazing at the map in my Lonely Planet USA guide, imagining all the places we will visit. *sigh*

In other news, I’ve been very interested in the discussion over at Justine Larbalestier’s blog regarding the Twilight series by Stephenie Meyer. Well, the discussion isn’t really about Twilight, but that’s the part I want to comment on.

I’ve always had fairly mixed emotions about Twilight. When I first picked it up on a whim at Angus and Robertson, no one really knew about Twilight. I was the first of my friends to ‘discover’ it. I ended up spending the whole day in the park reading. It’s a fairly immersive book.So I recommended it to all my friends, and then, suddenly, it became trendy ( although I’m not saying the two are connected).

I have this deep-seated prejudice against trends. I don’t know why, but I tend to avoid popular things at all costs. This is to my detriment and I’m trying very hard to break through it. But when Twilight became the Bible of the pre-teen set, I admit I went a little sour on it. It doesn’t help that the movie was totally weird (what’s with all the scenes in trees?).

But I’ve been trying to judge Twilight purely on its own merit. Not having read it since it first came out, this is difficult and I probably can’t be trusted on anything I say from here on in.

Stephenie Meyer said it best, I think, when she said that there are writers and there are storytellers and she is definitely the latter. That Twilight is so popular and so engrossing to so many teens is a testament to her skill as a storyteller, I think. But it isn’t really an example of stellar writing. Just check out this discussion on NPR to see what I mean.

Now, people seem pretty split on this issue. Twilight fans say none of this matters; that a book doesn’t need to be well-written in order to be worthwhile reading. Critics say that teens deserve better than this and the books should never have been published. Or at least, better edited.

What do I think? Well, I agree that Twilight should have been better edited. But I don’t think that just because the writing isn’t fantastic that it shouldn’t have been published. I think that perhaps it was just published too soon. This was Meyer’s first book, and not just first published but first ever written. It was bound to be a little messy.

I tend to look at this issue from the point of view of a young writer. As much as I want my book to be published, I am terrified I will be published too soon and one day be the subject of a discussion like that one. I guess what I hope is that when I am published, whether with Tiger Eye or another book, that I have the good fortune to be under an excellent agent and editor who will take the time to teach me and show me where I have gone wrong.

I haven’t read a Meyer book in years but I’m fairly certain that in the books after Twilight her writing would have improved.

As for what teen readers ‘deserve’ to read, I think all reading is valuable, good books and bad. I don’t think anyone would have been harmed by the bad writing in Twilight, and it has taught me, at least, what not to do when writing my own stories.

I think Twilight is a testament to the value of a good story, and how good writing comes secondary to that in popular culture and the commercial environment. I don’t think placing a value judgment on this is particularly useful, as again, all reading is good reading as far as I am concerned.

As for all the feminist arguments against Twilight, I will leave you with this little masterpiece.

Love!

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Twilight et cetera

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