Thursday, October 9, 2008

Twilight and A New Year

I finished reading Twilight today. I am fasting for Yom Kippur and really shouldn't be reading or typing on my computer. I should, instead, be in Temple, thanking G-d for writing my name in his Book of Life for another year. But why I am not in Temple, is a discussion for another time….

For now, let’s discuss a simpler topic, Twilight by Stephenie Meyer. I was very harsh on this book and its writer when I was on about page 85. So, have I changed my opinion?

Yes and No.

First the No.
I still maintain that she laid on Bella being such a responsible 17-year old a bit thick. I still maintain that it was strange that she didn’t own a cell phone and that there were no former friends from Phoenix - her hometown, texting or emailing her when she moved to Forks. I wish I could ask SM why she made these choices for the lack of true teenager-isms in today’s world of technology. Maybe she just wanted to keep it simple and friends from Phoenix could have complicated the plot… I guess I’ll never know.

Then the Yes
I had to make a decision; Read as a writer, or read as a reader. I decided upon the later and once I did, it made a huge difference in the enjoyment factor. SM really did do a good job capturing first love obsession. I was able to remember those distant butterflies in my stomach and my heart skipping beats at the sight or feel of my first love. It was fun to go on that ride down memory lane. And then to add the element of fantasy – a lion loving a lamb. It was… well… fun… for lack of a better term.

I also enjoyed the spin on a modern day Romeo and Juliet of sorts - A Capulet in love with a Montague - forbidden love between a human and a vampire.

I do wonder, had I read the book unaware that Edward was a vampire, what the reveal would have felt like. I felt a little gypped that I allowed myself to not be as guarded as with Harry Potter.

The hunt of the tracker was exciting and her bravery and yet fear, palpable. I did see the reason behind her clumsiness from a writer’s point a view and her queasiness of blood. Here is a girl unable to walk a straight line without hurting herself and buckles under the sight of blood, but able to stand up to a literal blood-thirsty killer. I always knew she would have such reasons in the end, but I guess for an adult, it still felt a little trite. I can see for a teen, that this would be a wonderful twist of character flaws vs. strengths within Bella. She needed to be clumsy so "falling through the window" would be plausible.

I did really love the twist that SM created about Vampires; Vampires are “people” to, with feelings, and emotions, and needs, and wants, and desires. And that they want to experience life and don’t necessarily have to be evil, blood-thirsty killers. That there are all kinds. I thought that was her strength in this series – her unique vision on vampires – a vampire who can love and choose not to kill.

So overall, I give it a thumbs up. If you get passed the 40/17-year old Bella thing, the story is exciting and entertaining. I will go on to read the next one.

Side Note: My sister and step-mom have both read the series and I stated my case to them one sunny day at the beach. They both looked at each other and laughed and my step-mother said, “Lori (my sister) WAS Bella!” My sister was known for vacuuming and cleaning the house because my mother, although wonderful at many things, was not a good housekeeper.

I also learned how to cook rather young because our mother went back to work.

And this made me also realize, that there are those who will see themselves in Bella. Those of us who will relate to growing up too soon, for whatever reason. And most likely, we believe we were more then what we were… more responsible, a more capable cook, smarter about boys… etc.

It is our reflecting back, seeing ourselves this way, that makes Bella more believable I suppose. And for teens, I am sure they all see themselves as these things in their mind… responsible, reliable, capable. And they should! So, they can see these parts of themselves in Bella. And maybe that is the allure this character has on some readers.

My sister identified with her, believed that was her life. I am sure there are many other readers out there with the same relationship to Bella.

Or maybe I'm just delirius with hunger right now. What time is it? How many more hours of fasting??

Speaking of fasting... Rosh Hashanah is the Jewish New Year. According to the Jewish Calendar, it is the year 5769. The week after Rosh Hashanah, leading to the Day of Atonement, or Yom Kippur, is a time to reflect on the last year and your actions. It is a time to be honest with yourself and your involvement with G-d. It is a time to see where you went wrong, where you might have wronged others, and to ask for forgiveness and atone for those sins.

It is also a time to think how you will improve yourself this new year. How will you better your relationships, your character, the way you live, and treat others as well as yourself. So what better time then now to refelct upon Devon Ellington’s questions on goals on her new blog.

The 25 questions will definitely take up some time to answer, but if you want to give it a try, here they are…

1. Looking back on the previous year, without consulting your notes or the GDRS for it, what stands out in your memory as a met goal that makes you feel positive about the future?
2. What did you find you needed to release, because, as the year progressed, it no longer worked to struggle towards it as a goal?
3. How has writing become more important in your life this past year?
4. How do you plan to move it up on the priority list this year? List three specific steps to make your writing more of a priority.
5. In terms of a living wage, what do you need to adjust in your writing output in order to achieve your wage-earning goals?
6. Do you still hang on to the fallacy that if you love to write, you don’t “deserve” to be paid a decent wage for it? List three steps to move past this block.
7. What large projects do you want to start this year?
8. What projects from the previous year do you need to complete? (Either first drafts, revisions, query letters)
9. What mix of smaller projects do you want to get into the pipeline this year?
10. How do you prioritize your projects? How do you shuffle them as your needs change?
11. What is your querying goal for the year? (IE, how many queries per week/month would you like to send out)?
12. What new area/genre are you willing to expand into/experiment in this year?
13. What is the greatest gift to your writing self you can give?
14. What do you need to renegotiate with other factions in your life to give yourself more writing time?
15. Decide on one writing risk for this year – be it a submission in a new genre, attending a conference, or trying something completely out of your comfort zone. Write about it, and set yourself a loose timeline to accomplish it.
16. What new and unique marketing arenas will you enter this year to promote both yourself and your work?
17. What do you need to do to enhance your self-esteem so you refer to yourself as “writer” FIRST when someone asks you to define yourself?
18. What kind of time commitment are you willing to make on a daily, weekly, monthly, and quarterly basis to support your writing?
19. What other elements needs to balance with your writing? What happens when you feel unbalanced?
20. What contract are you willing to make with yourself to prevent writing from falling farther down on your priority list when “life gets in the way”?
21. How do your writing goals for the year fit into your dreams for the future?
22. What resolutions do you make to integrate your writing and the rest of your life?
23. How do these goals fit into your three year plan? Your five year plan? Your ten year plan?
24. Name one new non-writing element you plan to introduce into your life (and that might give you something new about which to write).
25. Name one non-writing element in your life that gets in the way of your writing that you commit to giving up or limiting and, instead, devote that time to writing.


PJ Hoover said...

I think she did a fabulous job of capturing the forbidden love and the sexual tension. It made me want to be 17 all over again.

Sheri Perl-Oshins said...

Me too. I did really enjoy that part of it ALOT, maybe too much. My youngest sister, who is 17, tonight at dinner said... "I want an Edward." and basically we all said, "don't we all???" And I guess that is the essence of what captures us. That each night we get to relive that love affair vicariously through Bella. WE all love our husbands, but that young, obsessive love changes. It's nice to remember those early days of it.

Keri Mikulski said...

I definitely, from what I read so far, agree with PJ. :)

Like your 25 questions. I'm actually printing them out right now to review and think about.

Gottawrite Girl said...

Sheri, you are always looking out for us writers... helping us improve our craft. Thank you! These are wonderful questions to consider!

Sheri Perl-Oshins said...

I can't take the credit for those questions one iota. They are Devon Ellington's. I just pasted and copied and did link to her blog.

But thanks Keri and Susan. I think we all find inspiration in one another and isn't that what the blogging world is really all about!

Have a great weekend everyone!
Oh I just wanted to say... I had thought about this being a modern day Romeo and Juliet... I'm sure other's did too, not so hard to make that connection. But then last night I began reading the second book and was so surprised to see all the literal references to the Capulets and Montagues and that Bella has to watch the 1960's version - my favorite btw - of the movie Romeo and Juliet. I was tickled as I read all of that.

Chris Eldin said...

Hi Sheri,
Happy Yom Kippur. Do people say that?
And I sooo want to pick your brain. I'll send you an email, but basically I wnat the character in my next book to be Jewish. Long story.....

Will come back to look at your questions. I love being reflective.

cindy said...

those are some hefty questions! and fasting? *dies* you know i wouldn't do very well. =)

great thoughts on twilight--i was embarrassed i had a crush on edward, too. tho the adult in me still thinks it's creepy he watched her sleep. =O

so the question is...will you read the rest of the series?

Chris Eldin said...

Okay, I'd like to answer
13. What is the greatest gift to your writing self you can give?

Time. And organization. Everytime I read a blog, I see people spending hours each day writing. DH has been guilting me for the past few months, and I'm starting to push back a little. I told him this morning that many people spend 5 hours a day writing. I'm lucky I get 5 hours a week, and I'm a stay-at-home mom. (Which is part of the problem. Others feel I have "all this free time" and feel quite comfortable trying to manage it for me. That's going to stop.)

Sorry for the rant. But I really am goign to give myself permission to sit a couple of days per week and let the housework go to hell so I can write. Period.

Anonymous said...

Wooo, that list of questions is a healthy dose! I'll answer number 4, and I've copied down the list as well.

4. How do you plan to move it up on the priority list this year? List three specific steps to make your writing more of a priority.

a. I will treat it as a job, rather than a hobby; getting out of bed early to complete tasks, setting schedules, implementing systems to be responsible and organized.

b. I will work to gain confidence in terms of sending out queries and work, get over my fear of rejection.

c. I will attend networking events for bloggers and writers, as well as conferences and workshops that can help me develop as a writer.

Whew! Thanks for the list, it looks pretty comprehensive. :)

Sheri Perl-Oshins said...

Hey Chris, happy to be part of your research. Anytime. I'll look for your email. BTW, you'd say either Happy New Year, Good Yontif, La’ Shana Tova, or have a reflective fast. You pick!8)

Cindy, Yes, I actually can't wait to read the rest of the stories. I am such a reader, I can't help myself. There is only one book I ever read that I never finished. I am kind of obsessive that way. And one thing I learned this weekend about SM is she does a very good job showing and not telling. I am presently noticing this in my own writing to an extent I never saw before. So I am eager to read her next book, as a writer, to pick that part of her skills apart. Oh and Yes, I think you and fasting might be a big challenge, but I think you could do it. You are a "just do it" kind of gal, I get the feeling!

Sheri Perl-Oshins said...

Chris, if you feel a rant coming on, this is the place to do it... here, with fellow writers!! I am sure we all feel your pain. I am also a stay-at-home mom. True, I work three part time jobs, but two of them are done at home - oh wait three of them - I forgot I've been asked to write a company's blog - so that will be adding to my freelancing pile. And the one that takes me out of home is only for 3.5 hours two days a week. So i still consider myself a stay-at-home mom and it's so true, people DO think we have all this time on our hands and that we obviously can't manage it well or we'd be able to get all this stuff done. It's so hard - because when you are working on the home, you feel guilty about not writing and when you are writing, you feel guilty about not working on the home --- I feel your pain sista! We need to carve out time to do the things that is important to us, otherwise we are just living. And before you know it, *blink* you're very old and this time is gone. We only get it once! So make the most of it - GUILT-FREE!!!

Sheri Perl-Oshins said...

Erin, treating your writing as a job is the key to success. I remember when I made that switch. Everyone laughed at me at first when I said, please do not call me between the hours of 9 - 3 unless it is life threatening. You can email me and if I am not too busy I will answer you back. But laugh all they want. You wouldn't take personal calls - or you try not to - when you are working outside the home. I do one chore in the morning and one in the afternoon. And definitely add D. Join SCBWI if you haven't already! I think you're on a good path. Good Luck!

Sheri Perl-Oshins said...

Thanks Devon for posting those tough 25 question on your blog. I know it has kicked a lot of thinking into gear for all of us!

“Personal limitation exists only in our ideas of who we are. Give up all notions of who you are and your limitations will vanish.”

- Anonymous