I’m starting to get uncomfortable with the way people, especially wannabe authors, beat on E.L. James.
Most of us write in a genre that somebody else holds in contempt.
How is it that “Mommy Porn” about erotic power and kinky sex is trash, but SF about political power and blowing shit up in space is not trash?
And that Lad Lit about sex and wangsting over middle age is also not trash?
And, how terrible to have chunks of your text taken out of context and snarked at by people who don’t get your genre! Especially if you’ve been writing in 1st person, so that odd metaphors etc are part of characterisation.
Has anybody who enjoys criticizing EL James’s descriptions of… erm… intimacy actually read DH Lawrence?
And we get something similar with J.K. Rowling.
“OMG somebody used similar concepts before! She must be a plagiarist! ”
They are tropes, moron! It’s what she did with them that mattered.
If you demand original tropes, then you can bin just about everything written in every genre. Hell, you can bin Shakespeare, who ripped off Boccaccio half the time.
“Eww. The books get big fat and bloated!”
Are you 12? 14?
No? Then shut the hell up.
The intended readers, the ones the right age, read her, continue to read her. Many of the adults too,
Also, how come big fat fantasy series count as not bloated?
“Ugh. It’s just a re-skinned public school story.”
First, Hogwarts is technically a state boarding school.
Second, some people like school stories. You don’t have to — hell, many of us had such a shitty time at school we find such stories almost triggering — but don’t criticize a book because you don’t like its sub genre. In that light, the Culture books are “just modernized Flash Gordon stuff”, Pride and Prejudice is just a “pre-modern privilege pain narrative”.
Both James and Rowling wrote bestsellers that broke out of their genre ghettos, gave people at minimum a few precious hours of escapism and at best inserted new excitement into their lives, sent moms off to explore fantasies, and teens off to find more Fantasy literature.
Surely the fairest test of a book is; “Do people read it, come back for more, and feel its influence later?”
By this measure, these two writers are literary giants.
They both wrote themselves out of obscurity and into rather nice houses, pretty much like Sir Walter Scott did back in the 19th century, and every 20th and 21st century bestselling Thriller and Crime writer has done since.
So is the real problem that women writers are only supposed to get rich by writing serious literature?
Are some people seeing them as letting the side down? And others just seeing them as uppity?
I don’t know.
When I was a student in Edinburgh, we used to hang out in a coffee shop across the road, the now-defunct Nicolsons.
This was before it was trendy to fictioneer in coffee shops.
I remember a friend saying, “There’s that woman with the kid writing again” and I have this vague recollection of bottle-blond long hair, an untrendy mum-raincoat, a baby buggy and an excercise book.
I’ve been there, writing in the gaps in my life, hunched over a laptop on a train to Glasgow while broad shouldered morons decided to assert their space, or squirreled away in a biker bar at lunchtime, tapping frantically at my second hand keyboard while sipping bad coffee, or doing edits in the park while a child dozed in their pram.
It’s how most of us start. So, me? I wish JK Rowling and EL James all the best. May they enjoy the good fortune that they have earned.
Snark away if you want. Neither writer need care what you think. A mansion is a great comfort blanket.