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Hello dear readers,

So, I gotta ask: what’s the deal with Stephenie Meyer, anyway? If JK Rowling is the richest author and James Patterson the best paid, poor Stephenie must be the most hated.

People love to take potshots at her. She’s become a running joke. Her success is openly mocked. Even my hero Stephen King stooped to denigrate her writing. Her weight is criticized in the media. She’s an author, people! Since when are authors expected to live up to film star ideals? Stephenie’s looks are not the point.

Lest you think I’m one of those Twihards or whatever the hell they’re called, I’ll say right up front that I don’t care for her stories, either. But Stephenie is writing for teenage girls. I know this is going to shock some of you, but I’m not a teenage girl. I read the first book; I didn’t like it; I moved on. I certainly didn’t lose any sleep over it, because I’m not her target audience. Some adults love the books, but they’re not her target audience, either. JK Rowling also wrote for kids, but we never poked fun at her. Yes, we liked her books, but we weren’t the intended audience for Harry Potter, either. If someone had told JK that her language was too simple or her ideas too fantastical, I suspect she would have laughed in his face…all the way to the bank. I hope that’s what Stephenie’s doing (she’s on that richest authors list, too, by the way).

The vitriol directed at Stephenie is shocking. On-line articles have sneered that she was an overweight, unpopular teen who longed to be more like Bella. That she’s writing a self-indulgent teen fantasy. Um, hello–again, she’s writing for teenage girls. Who is more likely to love an overblown teenage fantasy? There’s a reason she’s been so successful, like it or not. She knows her audience, and she’s writing for them. Nothing wrong with that. That’s what all authors are supposed to be doing.

I never in a million years thought I’d come to the defense of Stephenie Meyer. I admit I’ve laughed at some of the Twilight jokes. A few of them are really funny. And let’s face it, sparkly vampires are ridiculous in the extreme. But teenage girls like sparkles. Stephenie’s smart enough to know that.

The last straw was this link that a friend posted on my Facebook page. She asked if I agreed with the author’s assessment. Personally, I think the author has too much bloody time on his hands. If he is an author himself, his time would be better spent writing his own work than taking Twilight apart page by page. And if he’s not an author, his time would be better spent defragmenting his hard drive. Or playing Parcheesi. Or, God forbid, reading another book.

So please put away your fangs. I haven’t seen this kind of nastiness since Dan Brown made it big with The Da Vinci Code. We love to hate the immensely successful, don’t we? Because that’s what Stephenie Meyer is. As much as we may loathe her writing, all but the most dense among us have to concede that she is doing something right.

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19 Comments

  1. Kim

    First off, I am going to start off by saying: Anyone who can put together an entire novel, have it flow, make sense, and have a plot and hold at least one person’s (preferably more though) interest is a Good Writer.

    There are (to be verb) certainly (adverb) things (vague nouns) you can avoid to make better writing. I do agree with the assessment of the blog that pulls out not-so-random passages from Twilight to attack style — those select passages do “bite.”

    Not to be overlooked, however, is the money making machine that is publishing. So Stephen King likes JK Rowling better. I would say that the first Harry Potter Book contained much better writing than any of the subsequent books, probably because of the time taken to to lovingly edit the first book compared to the rush to make money and statisfy fans garnered by the others.

    I would say the same might be true of Twighlight. I bought the series at Costco and as I wandered through the store, I had at least 3 complete strangers stop me and tell me how AMAZING the series was. I was excited to read.

    And then I was disappointed. My dislike of Twighlight has to do with characterization though. It terrifies me more than vampirism ever would that teenage girls should think it is OK to idealize a controling man like Edward. Or an arrogant one like Jacob. I read the first two books and it was another 6 or 8 months before I bothered to pick up and start the 3rd.

    The book is a romance novel, not a paranormal horror story. And I entirely agree with you that Stephanie Meyers knows her audience. I am sure that I would have loved these books as a teen. But they are not intended to be literature. When it is not intended to be literature I can overlook style and skim wordiness.

    Reply
  2. Margo Dill

    It’s pure jealousy–in my opinion–no matter what people say. She wasn’t trying to be famous or ask for all the success. She simply wrote the book in her heart and dreams, and the public ate it up. I hope she is laughing all the way to the bank.

    Margo
    http://margodill.com/blog/

    Reply
  3. Niki*

    It’s not so much the simplistic writing that really bothers me about Meyers books, it’s the themes that are in the books. It upsets me that something that is so dis-empowering to women is so popular.

    Good on her for making so much money, she has the world truly fooled. I think now kids are using the word “chagrin” now more than ever and still don’t know what it means!

    Reply
  4. Madeline Mora-Summonte

    I read the first book and didn’t care for it, but I can see why people like it. It’s like that with any book – some enjoy it, others don’t.

    And, as I understand it, some of those King comments were taken out of context. The whole article supposedly has some positive points in it. (I don’t now this for a fact – haven’t read the actual article – so take that for what it’s worth.) 🙂

    Reply
  5. Elspeth Cross

    This irks me. Greatly. (The concept, not your blog entry 😀 ) Confusing a writer and her books is like confusing an actor and the roles he plays. To me, “she can’t write because she is overweight” is the same as “he’s a cheater because the TV character had an affair”.

    One is a person, the other is a product. If the product sells, the person is successful. If you don’t like the product, don’t buy it. The person isn’t forcing you to. If you don’t like the person, don’t by the product. But don’t mix them up.

    Reply
  6. J.H. Moncrieff

    Thanks for your comments! Kim, my point was not that her writing is perfect, but that too much time has been spent criticizing it. I didn’t like the book, either, but I fully support her right to write it. Would I have liked her stuff better when I was a teen? I don’t know, but there’s definitely a lot of girls out there who do. As for controlling, arrogant men, a lot of teenage girls see those personality traits as “romantic” and “alluring”. That I *do* remember from my own adolescence! 🙂

    Margo, I completely agree. The meanness just makes the critics look bad, in my opinion. I’m disappointed King had to stoop to that level with the rest of them.

    Reply
  7. J.H. Moncrieff

    Many people have made the same argument about fairy tales. They hate that the women always have to be saved by some prince or woodsman. Again, I don’t like Bella. I think she’s a sap. But when I was a tween and teen, the female characters I created were always screaming and being rescued by some guy. I didn’t realize until I was older how lame they were, and I would certainly call myself a strong woman.

    Would Meyers’ time be better served if she wrote a tale where Bella saved herself and kicked some vampire butt? Probably, but there are plenty of stories like that out in the world already. (Look at Buffy.) If it gives some girl comfort to fantasize about being saved by a sparkly vampire, I’m not going to criticize. To each their own!

    Reply
  8. thefish

    Hey J.H.,
    Glad to see you still stand up for what is right and not what is the in thing. I can’t comment on Twilight… Never read it myself. I’m not much of a teenage girl anyway

    Reply
  9. J.H. Moncrieff

    Aww, thanks Vin. I will always be a scrapper. That will never change. And, as much as I will stand up for a person’s right to write whatever they want, I will say…you’re not missing much.

    Reply
  10. Richard

    I loves me a good rant! Keep ’em coming! I don’t plan them for weekly posting but it happens about that often anyway with me…

    Reply
  11. J.H. Moncrieff

    Madeline – I did read the article at some point, but can’t remember it in detail. Whether out of context or not, he is still quoted as saying she can’t write. There’s nothing the media likes better than a feud, whether it’s between authors, actors, or athletes. I adore the man, but I do think he should have known better. If he said that about me, I’d be devastated. Stephenie Meyer is a famous author, but she’s still a person. When you’re an actor or a singer, you may expect the kind of celebrity she’s achieved, but to be that famous as a writer is very rare. I wouldn’t be surprised to discover that it blindsided her.

    Elspeth – I completely agree. The comments about her weight in particular are unnecessary and cruel. I think she’s an attractive woman, but who cares? There are certainly plenty of successful male authors who aren’t the slightest bit attractive, but I don’t see them being critiqued the same way.

    Reply
  12. Jocé

    Hi J.H., you are amazing, not only finished your novel draft: all those thousands of words, but you haven’t neglected your blog, even found time for the rant! 🙂 I thoroughly enjoyed today’s post, and must confess I usually skip the rants, not my favourite thing. But so much energy here, and interesting comments. I’m not in a position to vote one way or ‘tother since I’ve not read any of Stephanie Meyer’s stories either. But you’ve kindled my interest. Ha!
    Remember the quote attributed to Oscar Wilde: “The only thing worse than being talked about is not being talked about.”
    -All the best for a wonderful retreat next week.

    Reply
  13. J.H. Moncrieff

    Richard – thanks for the comment and the follow! I don’t rant very often–I try to keep this a mostly positive place, but some things need to be said.

    Joce – thank you so much for the kind words. I’m very happy to be done the book but also a little lost. 🙂 I’m not sure if Stephenie is happy with all her publicity. I’m positive tears have been shed at some point. If not, the girl has a super thick skin.

    Reply
  14. Anonymous

    Writing as an art, success is measured by the quality of your writing. Writing as a career, success is measured by how much money you make.

    I understand why a lack of artistic talent but an insane amount of financial success bothers many people and causes them to bash Stephenie Meyer but they shouldn’t be hating her, they should be hating all the people who buy her books.

    Ps. to the haters: there are two ways to look at everything and your negativity is hurting your happiness as much as it is Stephenie Meyer’s. Be positive, be happy.

    Reply
  15. J.H. Moncrieff

    Brilliant comment, Anonymous. Thanks so much for posting. What you say is very true, and you’ve proven my point in an eloquent way.

    The heart of the matter is this: hating another author for their success is pointless. If you want to write, write. Don’t concern yourself with whether or not someone else’s book is up to your standards–just write your own! You said it well.

    I still believe it’s possible to create art for a career. That’s the dream.

    Reply
  16. Donelle Lacy

    This is a great post. It really puts the jealous in their place and gives readers something to think about. You’re right too. For some reason people just love to tear down the immensely successful. Is there a limit to the collective success writers can achieve, and if one person hogs it, others don’t get any? The last I checked, it’s a combination of hard work, meeting the right people, and being persistent. If we do that long enough, we’re sure to get somewhere.

    Love your blog!

    Reply
  17. J.H. Moncrieff

    Thanks so much, Donelle. Sadly, many writers seem to let envy cloud their vision, and they’re usually the ones who aren’t really doing anything to achieve their own success. But I hate how even successful authors felt justified slamming her. It just reflects badly on all of us.

    I love your attitude. I think it’s safe to say we agree on this one. 🙂

    Reply
  18. Frank Powers

    I don’t concede she is doing anything right. Finding success has little to do with doing right. I hate what she did to vampire lore. I’m all for a new take on an old idea but she took a new idea, stapled it over top of an old idea, completely destroying it in the processes.

    Vampires do not sparkle in the sun no matter how much little girls like sparkles. That’s not doing something right, that’s exploiting. And even that I could ignore. As much as it makes my skin itch, I could just ignore it.

    But thanks to those books, the bar on what constitutes good writing has been lowered so far that anything goes now. This wasn’t a case of poetic license, it was bad grammar, horrible description, and broken logic all wrapped up in a happily ever after ending that didn’t fit the series. It was bad fiction and all the success in the world won’t fix it.

    To me, she’s the Dane Cook of the writing word.

    Just my opinion but she deserves every ounce of criticism for not denouncing her own awful writing.

    Reply
    • J.H. Moncrieff

      Oh Frank, how do you really feel? 🙂

      I’m not defending her writing…I’m defending her right to write whatever she wants and weigh whatever she weighs without cruelty or ridicule from the great unpublished masses. You never know…one day our work might inspire as much hatred as Meyer’s. It could happen. It helps to be fabulously successful and wealthy–other writers hate that.

      And how do you know vampires don’t sparkle? Have you ever met one? 😉

      Reply

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