Sunday, 3 June 2012

Obligatory Fifty Shades post

So, I can't deny I've been influence by 50 Shades of Grey. Not in writing Carnal Punishment -- I wrote that two years ago, long before I knew about "subs," "doms" or the literary possibilities of "argh." No, the book didn't influence my writing, but it has influenced my decision to create this blog.

Fifty Shades of Grey, if you've missed it, is the first book in a trilogy chronicling the tortured relationship between Anastasia Steele and her billionaire swain, Christian Grey. Mr Grey is into light S&M and spends the first book trying to persuade the beautiful and befuddled Anastasia to be the Submissive to his Dominant. I don't know what happens in the next two novels, because I didn't read them. Fifty Shades is also a publishing phenomenon, with all three novels hitting the New York Times Bestseller list.

As I've written about earlier, I've been hesitant about publicising my erotica writing... When I sent a few close friends the link to my Harlequin published novella and begged them not to tell ANYONE I had written it, one friend wrote back, "I think you're a little hazy on what marketing means."


E.L. James has changed that, however. I've heard her interviewed a couple of times now, and she's just a regular lady. Far from mooning around in pink peignoirs and oiling her whips, she has sounded intensely, profoundly, deeply ordinary. Except she isn't ordinary, is she? Because E.L. James is now an insanely successful author. If this everyday woman, writing an erotic trilogy based on Twilight, of all things, can hit the publishing big time, be interviewed by my beloved Jian Ghomeshi (and my less loved, but still better than Sook Yin Lee, Brent Bambury) and popularise the term "mommy porn", then I should come out of the erotica-writing closet, actually try to move some product, and claim my ridiculous erotic novella loudly and proudly (though still safely hidden by my pseudonym).

I read Fifty Shades a few weeks ago. Or maybe I should qualify, let's say I read-ish it. I mean, I started to, and I hung in there through the first 70 pages of sex-free hand-wringing by the gormless heroine. Once they starting fucking things got better, but then that's all they did, and it got boring again. By page 200 I was skimming.

I am on board with the consensus that says that Fifty Shades is badly written and that its success is deeply mystifying and profoundly angry-making for anyone struggling to make it as a writer, and who feel that their work is So. Much. Better.

Despite all of the sour grapes I feel toward this work, the fact of the matter is that for whatever reason, Fifty found its audience, and nothing I've ever done has had such a successful reception. Instead of wallowing in bile-making envy, I am taking deep metaphorical breath and feeling grateful for James' success. It has given me the courage to create this blog and claim my own heavy-breather with pride. After all, if James can be interviewed by Jian (sigh) then maybe one day I can too.

PS - in an earlier draft of this post, I included a short review of the book where I wrote without irony about the "amount of spunk" Anastasia had -- hee, unintentional sploodge pun!

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