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Brittany: Bitten By the Muse

(parts cross-posted from my personal blog)

Okay, I admit it. Sometimes I can be a real literary snob. But after obtaining a BA and an MA in English, which required me to read approximately 500 works of English literature in 5 1/2 short years (all of which were considered classics), I started to scoff at certain types of books.

And since an MA in English is about as useless as an advanced degree in Bird Calling, I’ve tried (tried being the key word) to put a little distance between myself and overly-commercialized drivel, because I couldn’t possibly be seen reading that stuff. I have an image to maintain, right? Snobbish-literary-type, playing-bongos-in-some-smokey-dive, composing-odes-to-Kafka-on-a-cocktail-napkin. You get the picture.

Enter Twilight. I read all the articles, all the reviews, watched the hysterical swooning, saw how one little book about teenaged vampires turned the world on its head, and Masters-in-English Brittany sniffed disdainfully at all that nonsense and went on reading “big girl” books. You want me to read a young adult, sci-fi vampire book? Please.

But there is a part of me that pays attention to pop culture, and when talk about Stephanie Meyer and her stupid vampire books wouldn’t go away, I became curious. The writer in me was curious about the writing. The sleep-deprived mom in me wondered what in the hell would possess my son’s preschool teacher (another mom) to stay up well past midnight to watch New Moon the night it hit theaters. Was I missing something?

So for Christmas, I asked Tom to get me the series, and being Tom, he looked at me like I’d just casually asked him to buy me a crack pipe. But he got me the first three books anyway (and didn’t buy me the fourth because it was still in hardback and he didn’t want to pay hardback prices if I hated the books) and New Year’s Eve, I parked my butt on the couch and read ALL THREE BOOKS straight through.

I haven’t read books with that much enthusiasm in I don’t even know how long. Maybe never. I was able to put Harry Potter down at least. With the Twilight series, the house could have been on fire and I would gladly have gone up in smoke  just to read one more page.

And I don’t particularly enjoy young adult, sci-fi, or vampire books. So that was uncharacteristic for me.

But even stranger still, reading about Edward and Bella appears to have tripped my circuit breaker back into the “on” position, and as long as I am under the Twilight spell, I can write and write and write. I actually had to leave Tom twice in the middle of a conversation yesterday because words and phrases kept popping into my head and I felt this odd (and lately, all but forgotten) compulsion to go write those things down RIGHT THEN.

And I want to point out, here for all the world to see, that I had absolutely no intention whatsoever to start writing again. I hadn’t given it the first thought. In fact my unspoken New Year’s resolution regarding writing was that I’d only write when I had a real compulsion to do so, but was *not* going to sit anywhere near a computer and try to compose anything.

And yet here I am, burning up the keyboard like a woman possessed. I had less than two thousand words written a week ago, and that was after a couple of months of plodding along whenever I felt a scene coming. Now I have 6, 942.

It’s been a very odd couple of days.

Since I finished the first three books, I haven’t been able to sleep. Or at least sleep deeply. All night my brain is working away, re-imagining scenes, analyzing the words, the moods, the tone, the characters, the use of adverbs (usually a no-no), the use of modifiers (also a no-no), the way Stephanie Meyer describes every little nuance of every single facial expression, tone of voice, shade of skin. My brain wants to learn everything it can. I’ve been so manic about the Twilight saga that I sat down and read Midnight Sun (Twilight told from Edward’s perspective) — and then was promptly inspired to write a chapter from my own male protagonist’s point-of-view. Then, when I thought I was well and truly going to lose my mind if I didn’t read Breaking Dawn, bought it yesterday and read it straight through, and rented the movie Twilight today. I’ll probably sneak off to watch New Moon this weekend.

I may need a twelve-step program after this.

But I’m not one to turn down a gift Muse, in whatever guise she appears, and if vampire love is what it takes to get me writing feverishly again (and I can’t tell you how good it is to feel obsessive compulsive again), then I’ll take it.

The funny thing is, and it only occurred to me after the fact, Stephanie Meyer is a writing mother, too. In this interview she describes the way Twilight first came to her in a dream, and the strange compulsion she felt to write the story.

Perhaps we’ve  been bitten by the same muse. 🙂

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4 Comments Post a comment
  1. i read the first one and found it fun- could totally see the tween-teen craze , but it did not compell me to seek out the rest.

    however, the harry potter series spun me around like twilight has you, at a time i was completely overwhelmed in my day to day existence with the boys when they were rather little. it also pumped me up to start writing again.

    whatever works, baby! keep it up

    and i so get the fancy schmancy snooty litererooty thing. i am currently reading ‘a trashy novel’ i borrowed from my mother-in-law, and believe it or not, as shocked as i am that i am reading it, while working on my children’s novel indepth, i am stunned by how this mental junkfood is freeing my mind to write something completely different.

    it absolutely bucks the old adage that if you want to write for a particular genre, you have to read it. i mean i have done my homework, but during the writing, the escapist embraces and murders and intrigue are doing wonders for my 12 year old boy story.

    January 11, 2010
  2. Great post, Brittany.

    I do think that reading in general is a huge inspiration–the more so when an author really has passion and talent, which Meyer clearly does. I haven’t read any in the Twilight series myself, although I bought them for my daughter and she loved them — and now it looks like I need to dip in!

    You are a FAST reader. I might have finished ONE book in the time you read all three! I wish I could read that quickly — I might be making progress with my huge and growing to-read pile(s).

    January 11, 2010
  3. Yes, brittany, I too am a MA in English Twilight junkie. 🙂 Though I didn’t read them as fast as you did! My reading is limited to my bubble baths, which lately have been nightly because of the cold. Loved all four books. Then read Garden Spells–totally unrelated but equally enjoyable with a little magic thrown in–this weekend.

    January 11, 2010
  4. Hi Brittany,

    What happened to you is fascinating. The books obviously unlocked something in your subconscious and triggered off a splurge of feeling and related images and words. I shall definately have a look at them. Go with the flow, there is energy in it and it will be great to see what comes out of it. Here is an interesting blog post I read recently about muses

    http://yearzerowriters.wordpress.com/2010/01/09/the-loneliness-of-the-long-distance-writer/

    Alison

    January 19, 2010

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