So, I’ve been MIA, and for that I apologize. I’ve been working for a client (we’ll call her K) writing a series of books and it’s been time consuming but very rewarding. I’ve been blessed to land K and I don’t think I could ask for any better. I’ve worked as a freelance writer before and the relationship was very impersonal and not nearly as rewarding as this experience has been. With K, we collaborate on everything, talk on a personal level and keep the lines of communication wide open so it’s really been a great experience for me.
When I stopped to catch my breath, K was very supportive, telling me to take a break and just give myself some space from the series for a minute, which, after saying goodbye to my grandpa who left this world peacefully after 90 years of a truly incredible life, planning a birthday party for my now seven year old, and quietly mourning the loss of a baby that would have been born this month was MUCH needed.
The first few days I spent reading a book and getting back in touch with the genre that tempted my inner writer out of hiding when I was fourteen, feeding it ideas and teaching it what good writing looked like.
Then Netflix released season 5 of The Walking Dead and I immersed myself in that, having my fangirl moments over Daryl Dixon, backing away from the computer….no, WHIPPING away from the computer when Noah faced his extremely horrifying demise and thinking Carol had pretty much gone every kind of crazy known to man.
Then I caught up with what the internet was doing. Not the best idea I’ve ever had.
Some days, I just can’t internet. When my FaceBook page is littered with ignorant government employees refusing to do their job and getting massive attention for it, or images of kids in handcuffs for bringing clocks to school, or…ugh…Trump…yeah, just can’t internet on days like that.
And in the face of all of this national turmoil where ignorance and opinions flow much like the toxic sludge under the city of New York in Ghost Busters II, bringing to life things that are evil and sadistic, there’s the announcement of Twilight’s 10th anniversary, bringing about the release of a gender-swap Twilight story.
This is actually happening.
I shouldn’t have an opinion on this. Really, I shouldn’t. I don’t read enough to list any authors beyond Stephen King, Julia Quinn and J.K. Rowling. And when I was a young adult, I was tearing through one Fear Street novel after another. Those things were like crack to me. In my defense, I looked over one of the Cheerleading books while at the gym when I was a bit older and was a little horrified at my taste in reading material. Then again, it was written to draw in young adults and I was no longer a young adult. My tastes had matured. So it shouldn’t surprise me that there is a fan hysteria following the announcement of this release.
But it does.
Stephanie Meyer isn’t a horrible writer. She’s not amazing and her stories certainly don’t take my breath away by any means. But she’s not terrible. Not like some people who brought the ideas of BSDM psychopath billionaires to the forefront of the bestseller lists and made stories like this the new trend.
What I chose to read in regards to her new gender bender had me rolling my eyes and wondering if Meyer’s had any handle on her characters what-so-ever. She created them. She should know them, right?
She mentioned how Bella should not be perceived as a “damsel in distress” but more like a “person in distress” going as far as to say that any person in a room full of super heroes would be in distress. I can tell you right now that if I was in a room with Thor, Loki, Captain America, and Iron Man…the last thing I would be feeling is distress.
She also wanted to put to rest the perception of Bella as an insecure teen with a serious co-dependency issue. My words, not hers. That’s my take away from reading over interviews and that’s how I perceived Bella, in all honesty. I read the entire series while on maternity leave with my first born, curious to see what all the excitement was about. I came away from that still wondering what all the excitement was about and sorely disappointed in the main characters.
Bella is everything I would pray my daughters never be – insecure, dependant, self-critical, clingy, vapid and self-harming. After dating a vampire who walks away from her in the first book of the series, she falls to the ground, crippled from this unfathomable loss and just…lays there until she is found. Nothing about that screams “strong female role model” to me.
She’s consumed by Edward (which apparently is a criticism Meyers has an issue with but hey, if the shoe fits) and pretty much everything she does is, in some way, connected to Edward. Some might see this as endearing – a deep love that binds the characters together in a way that is romantic and admirable. To me, it’s an unhealthy obsession. But I’m of the mind that dating in high school is a complete waste of time and emotion. Teenagers lack the emotional maturity to deal with heartbreak on a healthy level. I know I wasn’t able to. Hell, I honestly wish I would have never dated in high school. I could have saved myself a lot of heartache and a nasty short-term stint with an eating disorder. There was nothing that I learned in any high school relationship that I had that I can apply usefully to my life as an adult. Not a thing.
Okay, wait. I’m writing off a lot of people that don’t deserve to be written off and were really great guys despite the messed up teenage girl they opted to date. Andy, Jack, Ryan, Dana who, although I didn’t date, still willingly got on that runaway train on a daily basis….you guys are all good in my book so no worries that you played a role in any of that sticky teenage drama. 🙂
Sometimes I wish I could go back and tell my younger self that there will come a time in her life when she will hold her baby girls for the first time and know what true, consuming, unequivocal love feels like. Or that she would meet a man unlike any she’s ever been around that she’ll share a deep love and friendship with and together, they’ll survive hardship after hardship. That she’ll do all of these things with him that are the complete opposite of who she was as a teenager like hunting. Teenage me would NEVER hunt. She was pro-bambi. The older me sees the merit in providing for my family and enjoys being out in the field with my husband, sipping coffee and eating leftover Halloween candy while watching the sun rise and fully appreciating the blast of a space heater in the insulated confines of our hunting shack. Yes, he’s that guy that built his own insulated hunting shack made for two. Sometimes three when his cousin’s stop in to visit for a bit.
But I digress.
I guess I just have a hard time wondering how a character, developed by a woman, made an impression that she never meant for her to make. Is Meyer’s opinions of teenage girls so low that she would think them entirely one-dimensional, insecure and obsessive and see these things as great attributes to give a main character? I also find it hard to understand how she claims teenage boys can feel just the same, and yet doesn’t give her male “Bella” any of the similar characteristics that would prove this thought of hers. (Hm, disclaimer…I haven’t read the gender bender so my opinion is based off of interviews). And, above it all, I have a very difficult time accepting that a female author created a woman that so many love to read about, that so many accept and defend. Well, there’s a lot that bothers me about Meyer’s novels but I don’t need to go on a rampage about the romanticism of vamping out on your girlfriend by biting her neck (not the cute-sy, kanoodling way), the sparkling thing or the teenage marriage so we’ll leave it at that.
But on the flip side of all of this – with some of these new novels coming out portraying women as easily manipulated, controlled, dependent and weak on so many levels…it makes my desire to create strong, female role models to continually grow – women who can stand on their own, who know their own self-worth, who trust in themselves and, although some of them might suffer from disabilities or trauma, they don’t let it become the definition of who they are.
If there was one thing that I was constantly told growing up, it was that I need to put myself first and that I can’t expect other people to be happy when I’m not, especially in a relationship. Makes a lot of sense. And I’m happy with positive female role models, not these simpering things gaining momentum as “amazing” heroines when they should be seen as the complete opposite.