Book Report: Twilight

If you’ve heard of this book before (or the movie, which opens this week), I know what you’re probably thinking:

“Dude, that’s chick lit!”

Worse, actually, it’s adolsecent chick lit. 

My wife and I regularly give each other reading recommendations and while we don’t always take each other up on them (for example, I’ve only read one Jodi Picoult novel and she’s read several David Sedaris titles and a Chuck Klosterman), this one was particularly interesting to me because of the genesis of the story.  

The thing is, ideas come from lots of places.  Walt Disney invented the theme park industry on a weekend while sitting on a bench.  Shai Agassi realized that the cel phone business model might be our best hope for green cars.

Twilight author Stephenie Meyer simply woke up from a dream one morning and wrote it down.

The Twilight series, wildly popular with preteen girls, is about Isabella Swan, who goes to live with her father in the rainiest town in the world after her long-time single mom remarries.  She has the normal challenges a teenage girl typically faces like fitting in at school, keeping her beat up vehicle operational, getting good grades, and falling in love with a guy who looks like a normal teenage boy but who turns out to be a vampire. 

There’s your central conflict that launched a multi million copy string of best sellers.  It’s very well written and compelling given that Edward (that would be the vampire) falls in love with Bella too but constantly has to fight the urge to kill her and drink her blood.  He comes from a “family” of vampires who have sworn off killing people to quench their thirst and instead live among humans as quietly as possible.

The idea for this saga was sparked from a dream.  It’s Chapter 13 in the first book, to be exact.  As Meyer states on her web site:

“I woke up (on that June 2nd) from a very vivid dream. In my dream, two people were having an intense conversation in a meadow in the woods. One of these people was just your average girl. The other person was fantastically beautiful, sparkly, and a vampire. They were discussing the difficulties inherent in the facts that A) they were falling in love with each other while B) the vampire was particularly attracted to the scent of her blood, and was having a difficult time restraining himself from killing her immediately. For what is essentially a transcript of my dream, please see Chapter 13 (‘Confessions’) of the book.

Though I had a million things to do (i.e. making breakfast for hungry children, dressing and changing the diapers of said children, finding the swimsuits that no one ever puts away in the right place, etc.), I stayed in bed, thinking about the dream. I was so intrigued by the nameless couple’s story that I hated the idea of forgetting it; it was the kind of dream that makes you want to call your friend and bore her with a detailed description. (Also, the vampire was just so darned good-looking, that I didn’t want to lose the mental image.) Unwillingly, I eventually got up and did the immediate necessities, and then put everything that I possibly could on the back burner and sat down at the computer to write—something I hadn’t done in so long that I wondered why I was bothering. But I didn’t want to lose the dream, so I typed out as much as I could remember, calling the characters ‘he’ and ‘she.’

From that point on, not one day passed that I did not write something. On bad days, I would only type out a page or two; on good days, I would finish a chapter and then some. I mostly wrote at night, after the kids were asleep so that I could concentrate for longer than five minutes without being interrupted. I started from the scene in the meadow and wrote through to the end. Then I went back to the beginning and wrote until the pieces matched up. I drove the ‘golden spike’ that connected them in late August, three months later.”

A spark, persistence, and hard work.  Chick lit or not, that’s a model anybody can follow.



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