Last Thursday I played hooky from my generally responsible life. For 12 straight hours, I didn't chauffeur anyone, cook for anyone, clean up after anyone, or make sure homework had been done. I even put my clients on hold for a day and didn't do a stitch of writing. Instead, I, my BFF, and about 300 of our closest friends attended the Twilight Marathon at the local theatre where we committed nutritional suicide over-indulging on popcorn, pretzels, and other empty carbs while watching all 5 films -- from Hardwicke to Condon -- back to back to back...
Because Charlotte's husband has a job that takes him away from home for extended periods of time, she is, for all extents and purposes, a single mom. She has several children, the oldest of whom has several serious long-term medical issues that will never go away or be fully resolved. She had left her kids in her mother's care for the night, but confided that because of the eldest child's special needs, she could only get away for a night out once or twice a year.
Thursday was one of those nights.
Frankly, I felt a bit self-conscious about the whole deal. I'm not a rabid Twihard. I can't actually make it all the way through even one of the books; the writing just puts me off. Swanning around the theatre wearing a big black lanyard emblazoned with the "Twilight Marathon" logo is not my idea of sporting the latest fashion accessory.
Still, the event sounded like fun and, as my friend and I rationalized: When would we get the chance to see all of the films together in a theatre again?
Don't judge me.
Nah, go ahead. Judge me if you must. The experience not only gave me an unexpected infusion of motivation, but it was also a huge eye-opener into why I write.
You see, I met Charlotte.*
Between screenings, I got talking with the woman sitting next to me. She, unlike me, IS a Twihard. Big time. Where my friend and I bought our tickets three days before the event ("If they're sold out, it's no big deal..."), Charlotte bought hers six weeks earlier, as soon as they went on sale.
Charlotte told me her husband has a t-shirt that states: Twilight Ruined My Wife. She is Team Edward all the way, baby, and sported a shirt to prove it. She was politely aghast when I admitted to not having read all 4 books. She's read them all -- several times. And she has attended every marathon before every new release.
Now, you can judge me all you want, but don't you dare judge Charlotte.
Thursday was one of those nights.
For twelve glorious hours Charlotte put her life on hold and gave herself a break. So what if she chose to spend it watching sparkly vampires, impossibly ripped guys, CGI werewolves, and a morose teenage girl? Twilight gave her a Free Pass to another world... just for a little while.
Of course, afterward, she had to go back to her life. She had to once again shoulder the responsibility of doling out meds, keeping the peace, driving to doctors' appointments and school events, managing homework, and raising the next generation. She had to get back to paying the bills, buying groceries, maintaining a long distance relationship, and keeping her sanity.
She wasn't shirking her responsibilities by taking a 12-hour Twilight break. She was recharging her batteries so she could charge back into the fray.
Go ahead: discount escapism. Say all you want about fans of such stuff looking for a way off the merry-go-round. But beware any feeling you may have of superiority. You never know when life will deal you a hand that has you looking for the escape hatch.
Here's the thing -- though it would be nice to write a bestseller, that's not the be-all and end-all, as far as I'm concerned. It's not all about numbers and sales. Instead, it's about connection.
For me, the Writer's Brass Ring would be to write something that allows people to escape whatever chains are binding their lives -- if only for a little while. That's why I write. And that's why I will never again judge a diehard Twihard. Or Gleek. Or Hunger Games aficionado. Or a fan of any other writer / singer / series / actor. Instead, I'll just do my darndest to create something that moves people half as much.
* Not her real name.