Thoughts On Writing

Why I Found Twilight In The Friends Bookstore

If you have never checked out your local library, I recommend that you do so as quickly as possible – especially if you live in Jefferson County. Aside from essentially containing an entire Blockbuster that sits at your disposal for the very low price of FREE, all of the libraries within the JCLC (Jefferson County Library Cooperative) contain a treasure of immeasurable proportions: The Friends Bookstore.

This is the place where people bring their old, unwanted, or extra books for “friends” of the library to peruse. Hardback books? Two dollars, thank you very much. Paperbacks? A mere one dollar. And while many of these books have an obvious reason for being there (barechested man holding swooning heroine on cover, or maybe mysterious stains on pages), every once in a while, you find a true gem.

For example, a couple of weeks ago I was scanning the shelves for something I might care to spend my petty cash on when I happened to see two very familiar looking books sitting just at knee level. One said Twilight, the other New Moon.

Naturally, I snatched them right up and then proceeded to dash to the checkout desk with both of them tucked securely between my arm and stomach, football style. Then I went on and on to the poor woman at the desk about how “I just can’t believe these were in there! I just can’t believe it!” Because I have Eclipse and Breaking Dawn in hardback, but not the first two in the series… until now. And I paid exactly $4.00 total.

Now, here’s the really weird part.

When I started re-reading Twilight a couple of nights ago, I opened the front cover and found that the first page – which was a blank one – had been covered in inscriptions, written in what looked like teenager handwriting. Sure enough, I started reading the incriptions. They all went something like this: “Mrs. Shepard, thank you SO MUCH for such a great year so far! You are the best! Have a great Christmas! You won’t be able to put this book down! Seriously, you’re going to love it! Love, Jennifer/Ashley/Mary Catherine/whathaveyou.”

I was BAFFLED. Having had some experience in the obsessive-high-school-girls-making-me-try-stuff-they-love department (the movie Step Up that a girl made me watch one year, and then the Taylor Swift Christmas album that was once forced on me, plus many more) I couldn’t help but wonder: How could Mrs. Shepard give up both of these books that she obviously got for free from her students? Did she read them and hate them so much that she couldn’t stand the sight of them? I mean, she couldn’t even keep them because of the personal notes on the inside?

And then I started thinking about a conversation I’ve been having via e-mail with my friend M. for a few days now. (Yes, this is where I finally get to the point.) We were talking about inner monologue, which is when you’re reading a character’s thoughts or emotions and nothing much is happening outside of him/her. There’s a lot of it at the beginning of Twilight as Bella Swan gets settled into her new life in Forks. I’ve always loved inner monologue; my friend M., however, doesn’t so much care for it. And I wondered, was that what Mrs. Shepard didn’t like about it? What was her reason for giving up the books?

M. and I talked about how we basically enjoy the same books, but we like them for different reasons: I enjoy getting to know my characters before any of the real action begins. Those first few chapters of Twilight were just delightful to me: Listening to Bella’s thoughts as she sees Edward for the first time. Getting to learn some of her history. Hearing her think about her mom.

M., however, was impatient to get past that part and see all the action. She says that she understood Bella so quickly that she ended up skimming through her thoughts.

It’s just so interesting to me that people can love the same book, and yet approach it in a totally different way. The editors I’ve been submitting my book to have said, almost without fail, that what they want is more of my main character. They want to get deeper into who she is – to know her on a deeper level. So somehow, I’ve got to use her inner monologue and her actions to do that without making the story drag.

I’ve re-edited up through Chapter 6, and it’s going well so far – I’m even writing a few brand new chapters. I’ll keep you updated on my progress.

And by the way, that Taylor Swift Christmas album? One of the best I’ve ever heard.

Unfortunately, and to absolutely no one’s surprise, I can’t say the same for Step Up.