Is it Envy? The Incredulous Success of Fifty Shades

I love rags to riches stories, especially about indie writers. There is something satisfying about hearing about a writer rejected by traditional publishing, who delivers the ultimate payback…success. But in the case of Fifty Shades of Gray, I’m stumped.

In theory, I should be excited that the Twilight fan fic turned published book is such a phenomenon since I got started by writing fan fic. What perplexes me is the quality of writing, not for fan fic, but for a traditionally published book. Fan fiction readers are so happy to read stories about their favorite characters, that they are forgiving of things like typos and quality of writing. But when a book is picked up by a publisher, it seems like editing for quality should be a part of the process. It doesn’t feel like that happened in the case of Fifty Shades of Gray. Didn’t the editor find the overuse of some words (i.e. “inner Goddess” and “holy….”) annoying? Or the sex scenes a little too flowery ala bodice rippers of yesteryear? I’m not criticising the the bondage or erotica, I’m talking about the over-the-top language like “…pushing higher and higher into the castle in the air” or referring to a part of Christian’s anatomy as a popsicle. Are these adults or teenagers? I was expecting to read things like “trobbing love thruster”.

Is it jealousy or sour grapes on my part. Maybe, though I don’t think so. As I mentioned in the beginning, I’ve enjoyed seeing the success of other indie authors finally getting noticed by traditional publishers. But maybe I need to view the success of Fifty Shades of Gray as a good sign. Maybe other readers, not just fan fiction readers, don’t care as much about the quality of the writing as the story. Or maybe its just readers who like titillating reads. That must be it. After all, people who like porn don’t pay too much attention to cinematic style or quality.

While I found Fifty Shades of Gray an annoying read, ultimately I have to congratulate E.L. James for her success. Afterall, what every writer wants are readers who love the story and that is what E.L. James was able to achieve.

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