Insomnia, Wizard Vans, and Why Modern Women Read “50 Shades of Grey”

Image via Flikr Creative Commons, courtesy of Benjamin Watson.

Image via Flikr Creative Commons, courtesy of Benjamin Watson.

We’ve been rather serious this week discussing the business side of the writing business. Today, we’re going to take off on a bizarre tangent another topic, namely because I haven’t slept in days and why put all this insomnia to waste?

I feel a lot like That 70s Show, the episode when the group decided to record all the “brilliant” ideas they got when they were stoned in the basement. Ideas that later…?

…yeah.

Some of my ideas (concocted at 4:00 a.m.) seemed sheer genius at the time when I was held fast in the grip of sleep-deprivation. Then later? Upon reflection, they were completely asinine didn’t make the cut. Namely my idea for a 24 hour manicure-pedicure spa, for people like me who COULDN’T GET TO SLEEP.

At least we could get our toes done :D.

Then, I decided that when I made it big, the car of my dreams would be a WIZARD VAN. Hey, mobile bookstore and a guaranteed way to keep The Spawn from dating until he’s over thirty.

You know you’ve hit a new low when you’re shopping for a panel van with a Star Wars mural at three in the morning.

Screen Shot 2013-08-15 at 4.54.49 PM

Yet, 24 Hour Mani-Pedi Spas and panel vans aside, I did take some time to think through the whole E.L. James 50 Shades thing, putting my sleep-addled brain to unraveling one of the greatest mysteries of our times.

I have a couple confessions. First, as an author and recovered editor, every time I hear the buzz about 50 Shades of Grey being a runaway success, I want to throw myself in traffic. All the craft classes, the conferences, the research and people really want to read books about THIS? My second confession is I haven’t actually read 50 Shades of Grey. Hey, only so much time in the day and my job requires a lot of reading and research, and this genre?

“Not my beer,” as the Dutch like to say.

Yet, it didn’t stop me from wondering, why are these books so popular, especially with modern women? Why is there a virtual explosion in a genre that involves advanced skills in knot-tying and requires a leather-cleaning kit? What makes college-educated modern women who are taking the world by storm gravitate to wanting to be “enslaved”?

Why isn’t there enough NyQuil to get me to SLEEP?

Sorry, got off-topic there.

Prepare to play armchair psychiatrist. I am not a real psychiatrist, but I do play one on the Internet. My credentials? 1) Being a modern woman 2) possessing empathy 3) I once took a Feminist Politics class in college.

Reason #1—The Culture Shift

I think it’s fairly common knowledge that the individuals who gravitate to wanting to be dominated are often the powerful. Judges, politicians, doctors, lawyers, CEOs, etc. have a lot of responsibility. When we’re boss, everyone comes to us for answers and looks to us to be in charge. Thing is? While being in charge is great, it can also be exhausting.

I’ve been through two agents, and both times I waited far too long to part ways. Why? I was tired of thinking and being in charge *whiiiiiine* I wanted someone to order me around and tell me what to do.

“Yes, Master Agent, I will rewrite that chapter. I’m a BAD, BAD WRITER!”

***Clearly, both agents made lousy “Tops”.

I imagine if we had a time-machine and zoomed back to 1950, no one would drop by the house and wonder why a man’s wife didn’t have a job.

“What? Your little woman’s baking pies, changing diapers, and ironing your shirts? Why doesn’t she have a REAL job?”

We gals were in charge of house, kids, cooking, and laundry. We were on the PTA and baked cookies and made costumes for school plays. In 1952, women were accustomed to thousands of years of being ordered around, so safe to say we wouldn’t have wanted more of that in the bedroom. Yet, as the glass ceiling shattered and more women took on traditionally male roles? We began to see a shift.

“I can open my OWN door, thank you.”

***Subtext—But feel free to tie me up me later.****

Many women are in charge of pretty much EVERYTHING, whether we want to be or not. Even though most women work full-time, we’re still largely responsible for child-rearing and household duties. Trust me, (and maybe it’s because I AM in Texas), if someone comes over to the house and notices it’s so filthy the CDC needs to do a drop-by? My tail is on the line. NO ONE is going to look to my husband and ask why he didn’t help do more chores.

My toddler attends nursery school and the school still asks ME to hand-make costumes for plays for a three-year-old. Really. Sure, let me fit that into my meetings, deadlines, blogs, books and traveling. Yet, when my kid shows up for the play wearing a Batman shirt instead of dressed as a caterpillar? Nobody asks Hubby why he didn’t break out the sewing machine and hot glue gun.

No, it isn’t fair, but fair is a weather condition.

Reason #2—The Whole “Less Thinking Thing”

No, I don’t read erotica, but I am guilty of having an addiction to celebrity magazines. Modern women are using their brains more than ever, and sure that sounds insulting, but  bear with me.

Just Host wants my website to have a password with two uppercase letters, a symbol, punctuation, a number and a clever emoticon embedded within. I have to reset my password almost every time I log in. My brain is exhausted.

WHY?

Because EVERYONE wants us to do this crap. I have passwords for my passwords and no idea what I did with the electric bill and why is the toddler suddenly quiet and am I wearing my bra on the outside of my shirt?

Sometimes the “grey” matter just needs a break.

Why do you think I’m blogging about this stuff?

Reason #3—It’s Just Too Hard to Kick Your Own @$$

I think a lot of modern women (especially those who happen to be moms) live in a state of perpetual guilt. For instance, my toddler knows his colors, his numbers and can even read…but potty training? I might as well be trying to teach him Advanced Particle Physics. I vacillate between, “Hey, not too bad. He’s pretty smart” and “OH DEAR GOD I SO SUCK AND MY CHILD MIGHT BE RETARDED.”

Yes, I am a #1 best-selling author, but the closets are a DISASTER and the dust bunnies have started a Hippie Commune in the garage and I swear I OWN scissors. I’ve bought 54 pairs! Where the hell have they all gone?

***My husband loses NO sleep over these things, btw.

Inside I know I’m a failure, but maybe it would just be cathartic and allow me to move forward if I could be handcuffed and told, “You’ve been bad. I saw inside your fridge and know you didn’t finish the laundry. Tell me you’re a bad wife!”

Didn't I just WASH these? BAD WIFE!

Didn’t I just WASH these? BAD WIFE!

Me: “I’m a BAD, BAD GIRL! I know! I haven’t sorted baby toys from the toddler toys! Yes, there are newborn clothes still in my child’s closet! I’M A BAD MOM! PUNISH ME!”

Then I can cry, confess and move on.

See? 50 Shades demystified! And y’all thought women were complicated (ok we are O_o).

What are your thoughts? Ever been in the clutches of insomnia and bombarded with “brilliant” ideas? Are you a modern woman riddled with nonsensical guilt? A modern dad? Am I on to something, that maybe we just want someone else to make a decision or…20?

I LOVE hearing from you!

To prove it and show my love, for the month of August, everyone who leaves a comment I will put your name in a hat. If you comment and link back to my blog on your blog, you get your name in the hat twice. What do you win? The unvarnished truth from yours truly. I will pick a winner once a month and it will be a critique of the first 20 pages of your novelor your query letter, or your synopsis (5 pages or less).

ANNOUNCEMENTS: I have a class coming up August 21st, I am running a Your First Five Pages webinar. Bronze is $40 and Gold is $55 (I look at your first five pages) and use WANA15 for 15% off.

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  1. #1 by TraceyLynnTobin on August 16, 2013 - 8:28 am

    I don’t like to judge too harshly without having read/seen/experienced whatever it is that is being judged, so a while back I picked up 50 Shades and gave them a read. And I can say now that I think you’ve pretty much hit the nail on the head. The writing is god-awful, but it’s easy to read and easy for a fatigued brain to deal with. The subject matter is Harlequinesque and silly, but the idea of having someone in charge of you is somehow very refreshing when you spend 26 hours a day taking care of every minute detail of your family’s life. And yeah, all the spanking and punishment seems almost comical, but a modern woman CAN empathize with the concept because of our almost-never-ending tidal waves of guilt and self-depreciation (“I skipped my exercises today and there were no consequences! Someone SPANK ME FOR PETESAKE!”).

    All in all, from a writer’s standpoint I can say that they’re truly awful books, but I can’t honestly say that I didn’t enjoy them on certain levels. Weird, right?

  2. #2 by breeroberts on August 16, 2013 - 8:42 am

    Good lord, it’s like you crawled into my head on this article. Don’t read or particularly like erotica. Kid’s turning 4 tomorrow and still not potty trained completely. People complain about losing socks in the dryer somehow, but I swear, at my house, it’s scissors. And I never invite anyone over EVER because they’d call Child Services if they saw how filthy my house is! I have so many passwords I keep them in a notebook (I know, that’s super bad, but I suffer from a scorching case of Mommy-itis).

    I do sleep well at night, so there’s that.

  3. #3 by Patty H. on August 16, 2013 - 8:46 am

    You are spot on. In my day job (as a stylist), I see the push/pull of women in charge every day. Some come in so exhausted that they say “Do what ever you want,” because they can’t make one more decision or they just want me to make it for them. Others can’t let go of control and would cut their own hair if they could reach the back of their head. Others have guilt at being taken care of, they bus their own glass if I get them a drink!

    For all of these women I can see the appeal of the topic of 50 Shades–I am just mystified by WHY THAT PARTICULAR BOOK? There is a lot of great romance/erotica written by very talented authors. As a romantic suspense writer, I hope 50 Shades gets women who “don’t read romance” to expand their horizons.

  4. #4 by agallagher510 on August 16, 2013 - 8:46 am

    Loved this! I haven’t read 50 Shades either and the idea of doing so makes me feel a little sick but your reasons for why so many women read it are well-thought out. And I love your humor. My favorite line in the whole piece was “No, it isn’t fair, but fair is a weather condition.”

  5. #5 by MonaKarel on August 16, 2013 - 8:48 am

    I can so relate to your 24 hour mani-pedi shop. I once came up with the brilliant idea of a 24 hour grooming shop. You could drop your dog off after work and pick them up…well it needed some details ironed out. But still…
    I did try 50 shades and I think the same mind set you’re describing is why historical romances and books with uber alpha males are so popular. It’s dominance lite…get your being bossed around thrills vicariously. And sad to say many readers don’t notice writing issues if the story line is compelling enough. Any more than the average dog owner can recognize the difference between their own fun loving beloved pet “whatever breed” and the one they see winning a big dog show. It’s the same breed, isn’t it?

  6. #6 by Satin Sheet Diva on August 16, 2013 - 8:49 am

    Two things off the bat – Number one: I haven’t slept through the night consistently since my daughter was born (she just turned 20 in July @_@); the result of that is I have been known to fall asleep at stop lights. So I feel your pain on the insomnia thing. In fact, I feel it quite literaly as in the midst of my latest bout of sleeplessness, I fell and broke a bone in my ankle. I tell people I was sleep walking.

    Second: I’ve been a single parent since before my divorce and there are times where I feel as if I’ll snap if I have to make one more decision or take on one more responsibility.

    Having written all that, I would like to say that as a human being, at no point in time has the life style represented in 50 Shades ever been one I wanted to embrace. To each his or her own but for me, S&M didn’t equate the kind of love and care I was looking for in a relationship.

    As a writer trying to make my way in the industry, I see 50 Shades and want to curse the student loan debt I acquired learning how to tell a well crafted story; I want to cry over the hours spent editing and revising my books as I reworked sentences, revised word choices, counted the number of exclamation points, etc. all in the name of wanting to show readers that indie authors weren’t hacks. I go through all of that, and then 50 Shades hits the market and sells a billion copies. I attempted to read the first one only to put it down. It wasn’t the subject matter, it was the writing that turned me off completely. If that’s a style that people were willing to shell out their hard earned dollars for, then I knew I was doomed to keep my day job forever. (smh)

    But oh well. I’ve accepted that I’m going to write no matter what, just like I’ll probably never sleep through the night again. I’ll continue to hone my pen and smith my words, so that at the end of the book, I know I did MY best to tell the story I was trying to tell.

  7. #8 by D'Alta on August 16, 2013 - 8:52 am

    Hmmm… I wish I understood the 50 Days of Mindlessness and 3 Years of Vampire Madness or The Celebrity Mag Rags…but I don’t. I do understand insomnia, a little to well, and fear that I have passed it along to my younger granddaughter. “Grandmas worry,” I recently told my granddaughter. To which she responded, “Oh? Lol.”

    I wish I understood this trashy madness. My Great-Aunt Lucy and her daughter, Cousin Emma, loved every little trashy tabloid that was written. I would hear them regaling each other and anyone else who would listen about the disgusting, sordid, details of the lives of the well- and little-known alike, who inhabited these wastelands of newsprint. And when the adults were aware I was listening, they would switch to speaking “pig-Latin,” thank God!!

    My granddaughter when she was little once commented, “Grandma, did you know that the people on the pages of my coloring book come out and play with and talk to each other at night?” Escape…from the rigidity of black lines and other people’s color choices…

    I don’t know… I just know that as my mom, who lives with my sister, needs more and more daily help while my sister works, I need at least one day of play in my week… Is this day my 50 Shades of Grey…

  8. #9 by Troy Lambert on August 16, 2013 - 8:54 am

    This nails it, although I think there are other things at work. The lack of editing is a lack of commitment to excellence. There is among writers a rush to publication to somehow break out and make money. And I think that readers, because they think so much every day, between computers and tech stuff bombarding them, shut down their minds often when they read.

    What we as authors and editors consider great work is rare. A reader will read something that is ok because, hey it was free on Kindle. It devalues what a writer does, and what a great writer goes through to get things on the page and to a level of excellence that satisfies a more discriminating crowd. But I’m thinking of starting my own erotica series. We’re getting low on bread and milk.

  9. #10 by sjmatthews74 on August 16, 2013 - 8:55 am

    I gave 50 Shades a shot and couldn’t get past the first two chapters.

  10. #11 by Laura McClellan on August 16, 2013 - 8:55 am

    What a spectacularly well written and well thought out analysis. I agree with every word, I admire the way you write, and I love the way you think. I think in another life (i.e., if I had time to have friends . . . ) you and I could be BFFs!

    Thanks. I’m going to share this with my FB friends.

  11. #12 by Edward Owen on August 16, 2013 - 8:57 am

    Laughing until tears ran down my face. Hats off to you mom’s who take on any type of job outside the home, or another one inside. I have always said I would volunteer to stay home and be domestic, but alas, I am the bread winner and must traverse the So Cal freeways daily. Oh, and at 4:00 am? I’m getting on the bus and typing my ideas into a cell phone. Sometimes just as silly. Kristen, I feel bad that you are so stressed. Handcuffs and straps are in the mail. You’ll feel better. :)

  12. #13 by Marie Loughin on August 16, 2013 - 9:01 am

    I commiserate. On both the insomnia and the housework.

    I’m too tired to think of anything to add to that. I think I’ll go read 50 Shades…

  13. #14 by christineardigo.com on August 16, 2013 - 9:05 am

    The topic of the book made me want to read it. The problem was the writing. Bad bad bad. I only made it through chapter 11. You know how you told us not to do things that pull the reader out of the book and make them realize they are only reading a book, not living it? Thats what this book does repeatedly. I kept thinking: did she have ANYONE edit this book? One day when you have time, read a few chapters. The first chapter isnt terrible, but then it goes down hill.

  14. #15 by Rebecca T. Dickinson on August 16, 2013 - 9:26 am

    Kristin, I always enjoy your insight. As I type, my toddler is putting hands in my hair – already done – and dancing with a squeal. We are potty training him, too, and it is a process. He is getting better though. I am working mom and an author of pieces in small publications, and it takes a lot. Sometimes I do not feel in control, especially with a toddler. I am fortunate to have a modern husband who does laundry and knows how to wash dishes. Since I enjoy cooking, I do most of it.

    I do not know why EL James’ books have become popular as I haven’t read them either. My grandmother has, and she loves them. I have also heard the writing is not very good, but since I haven’t read the books, I am no writer to judge. ~ Rebecca

  15. #16 by sylviamcdaniel2013 on August 16, 2013 - 9:35 am

    Great insight and I feel your pain as far as too much to do that you can’t think straight. I have a different theory on 50 Shades. It was the dark hero that so many women fell in love with and the idea of a woman changing him. Yes, that’s been done before, but not with kinky sex. I read all three books and frankly I loved them, though I did get to where I flipped the screen when it came to sex. I mean come on how many times are they going to do it. Sure it’s kinky, but after awhile even that gets blasé. I enjoyed the books. The writing was okay, but the storytelling phenomenal.

    But you’re right. I think so many women like BDSM because it’s the only place where they can let go and let someone else be in charge for awhile. Take it away, Master.

  16. #17 by stephaniehurt on August 16, 2013 - 9:37 am

    You so hit the nail on the head with me and I think it made a lump. Sometimes in the craziness of being an Accountant in the accounting business I own (Meaning I’m boss, chief decision maker, yada yada), I’m a mom to a 14 year old boy playing football (Practice everyday), Children’s Ministry Director and Author. Did I leave anything out, oh yes, house cleaning, garden weeding, grocery buying, let’s just stop there before I feel the need for a power nap, oh wait no time for a nap.

    I’ve often wonder why Fifty Shades has done as well as it has with all the dom included. Women today want to take charge, but like you said, maybe deep down we want someone to tell us what to do for a change. Maybe we need the proverbial whip to swish over our heads. It’s amazing how far this book has gone and then I saw on someone’s sight what she is now worth, let’s just say, Wow…

    I enjoy your whimsical posts and can relate to the insomnia. Good luck and keep up the posts. You usually bring out a giggle and sometimes a few tears from the laughter that it starts.

  17. #18 by Laurie A Will on August 16, 2013 - 9:39 am

    Hi Kristin,
    I could really relate to your post. I have suffered with insomnia more than once over the years, although I don’t remember coming up with any ‘brilliant ideas.’ Now, I am usually so exhausted that I have no problem fall asleep, but if I wake up at three or four in the morning, I rarely get back to sleep. It seems that today we are expected to do everything the 1950’s moms did and as well, plus do our jobs without a hitch. Well, I for one am not supermom. I just can’t do it. To complicate things I suffer from debilitating allergies, which means some days I am not productive with anything. I have too much sinus pressure or a massive headache or just too tired to accomplish much of anything. With the sinus pressure and often the headaches come foggy thinking and a terrible memory. Sometimes I would like to be told what to do, other times I just want to be left the hell alone! Through it all, I naturally feel like I am failing at everything at times. But then I feel a little better and I rally and work to get back on track. I do the best I can. Some days it’s damn near brilliant, some days not so hot.
    I haven’t read Fifty Shades of Grey. I was going to just to see what all the hub hub is about, but after hearing how terrible the writing is for numerous sources I think $9.99 is too much to pay for bad writing. Either way your analysis makes a lot of sense. Even though most of us are tired and can’t do it all, there always seems there’s this expectation to try.
    Laurie

  18. #19 by sharonhughson on August 16, 2013 - 9:40 am

    I was up at 3:30 this morning for the third time in a week. I have no Spawn to blame (or allergies or anything).
    Your theories behind the popularity of 50 Shades seem right on target.
    Why, after fighting tooth and nail to acquire semi-equal status, do women fantasize about being dominated by some man (sparkly vampire or otherwise)? Why does the neighbor’s grass look greener? (Right, the dog is fertilizing it. Keep that green.)

  19. #20 by pancakelady3 on August 16, 2013 - 9:42 am

    Okay, maybe I’m the only one but I’m weird that way, I somehow read more than the words or writing style of the author of “Fifty Shades”, and I loved it. I saw the underlying pain and trauma of the “Dom” and how he coped with it and finally realized the truth Do I want to be tied up and beat? Are you kidding? Given the traumas I deal with still on a daily basis, oh heck no but I didn’t sit in smug self righteous judgement because let’s face it, her bank account is a whole lot fatter than some of us. Now, moving on, the 24 hr mani/pedi idea is simply brilliant and I do understand the insomnia ,took me years and a hysterectomy before mine let up and I still have bouts with “white nights” from time to time. Kristen, you’re doing just fine, you’ll helping people, your “spawn” and husband love you and I personally think clutter could be a dynamite decorating scheme. I’m still mulling over the van but it’s growing on me.

    • #21 by Alison Doherty on August 16, 2013 - 11:15 am

      Yeah, I read and loved Fifty Shades too. What a stigma! I mean there were some problems with the writing style (inner goddess, subconscious, etc.) but something about the relationship and the shift in the relationship as Christian started dealing with his trauma was very interesting to me.

      • #22 by pancakelady3 on August 21, 2013 - 9:56 am

        I’m glad I wasn’t the only one to look beyond and really see that part of the storyline

  20. #23 by JoanneBest on August 16, 2013 - 9:44 am

    I read 50 Shades, let me rephrase that, I ‘tried’ to read 50 Shades and yep, really bad writing; I don’t like to say someone’s writing is awful but there’s nothing else to say, the writing is horrible and makes me want to bang my head against the wall when I think of all the amazing writers just here on Word Press alone who aren’t published while 50 Shades of Trash is all over the place. I have no problem with erotica, as long as it’s well written erotica and no I’m not bitter ;-)

    Seriously though, it really is kinda weird how mainstream erotica has gotten, it’s like 50 Shades-like books have taken the place of the good old fashioned historical romance bodice ripper books only with more explicit sex scenes. And Tracey, not so weird, it’s like you said, “easy for a fatigued brain to deal with”, when we are so constantly overloaded every day it’s not always easy to read anything with substance. Sometimes my brain gets so crazed I’m lucky if I can make it thru a comic book :D

  21. #24 by pancakelady3 on August 16, 2013 - 9:44 am

    “You are ” not “you”ll, some days my fingers go on strike and refuse to tell my brain.

  22. #25 by clareodea on August 16, 2013 - 9:51 am

    I also tried 50 shades and just couldn’t take the repetition. I persevered for a while thinking I had to solve the mystery of what made it so popular but finally gave up because I could not bear to spend another minute with any of the main characters.
    I have to laugh when you describe your home – all so familiar.

  23. #26 by Pippa DaCosta on August 16, 2013 - 9:51 am

    Hilarious and true. I’d write more but my two semi-naked toddlers are trashing the front room as I type these very words.

  24. #27 by Kessie Carroll on August 16, 2013 - 9:55 am

    I battled insomnia exactly like yours last summer. Here’s how I beat it after doing some research: http://netraptor.org/blog/2012/08/battling-insomnia/

    Short version: It’s triggered by a vitamin deficiency. But popping pills won’t do anything if you have zero absorption. Probiotics dramatically increase vitamin absorption. I was deficient in B vitamins especially. Taking them together had me sleeping like the dead that same night. Get well!

  25. #28 by creativityorcrazy on August 16, 2013 - 10:07 am

    You’re not alone in Texas. Even in NC, I don’t care how much people say, if the house is a wreck or the kids aren’t looked after right, it’s going to be the woman’s fault.

  26. #29 by Jennifer Price on August 16, 2013 - 10:12 am

    The timing on this post was perfect for me. I had an awful time falling asleep last night. Coast to Coast AM comes on at midnight and I listened to the first two hours. I noticed this morning that my nails look worse than awful. So I could really use a 24 hour mani-pedi spa.
    I don’t come up with brilliant ideas when I’m tired. Sometimes the solution to a problem pops in to my head when I’m too tired to over think the issue. But then I can’t remember it after I get some sleep.

  27. #30 by Kay Kauffman on August 16, 2013 - 10:18 am

    I think a lot of modern women (especially those who happen to be moms) live in a state of perpetual guilt. For instance, my toddler knows his colors, his numbers and can even read…but potty training? I might as well be trying to teach him Advanced Particle Physics. I vacillate between, “Hey, not too bad. He’s pretty smart” and “OH DEAR GOD I SO SUCK AND MY CHILD MIGHT BE RETARDED.”
    This resonated with me SO HARD! I think you’re on to something. :D

  28. #31 by moxeyns on August 16, 2013 - 10:29 am

    1) Boys take a long time to potty train. 6yo is not uncommon.
    2) The trashy house doesn’t improve. My baby is 19. On baking days – and any day might be a baking day – my kitchen is a flour storm, and she’s been too busy to pick up ANYTHING in the rest of the house. I’m holding committee meetings in anyone else’s house but mine… *sigh*

  29. #32 by jscowan on August 16, 2013 - 10:31 am

    It’s amazing the stories, ideas, thoughts and random tidbits our sleep-deprived 4:00am brains invent. I usually come up with inspiration for my grocery list, an idea for a new gizmo to help me clean the bathroom, or a thought on how to master the latest Sudoku puzzle. I confess I spent a few sleepless nights pondering the implications of the HUGE 50 Shades of Grey display outside the children’s section in our bookstore–not to mention the one at the grocery checkout. I eventually concluded it was all about hype, not an interesting story. Hype sells books and movies whether they are good or not. Hype is why I read Twilight and it was disappointing on so many levels. I’ve tried not to make that mistake again.

  30. #33 by Sandra Wagner-Wright on August 16, 2013 - 10:32 am

    I agree with your conclusion But Gee Whiz. I think Forbes just reported the author “earned” $50 million. That is appalling on so many levels. But you’re right. Women in high positions seem to just want to play master-slave. I’m so glad the women’s movement succeeded. *snark*

  31. #34 by Erica on August 16, 2013 - 10:32 am

    As usual, I love your post! I’m not a mom (although I have nothing but the utmost respect for those who are — that is one tough freakin’ job). However, I am planning my wedding, dealing with the change in my family’s dynamics and gearing up for another career overhaul.

    I’ve woken up from dreams that run the gamut between: 1) zombies eating my wedding guests and stealing the favors to; 2) angry coworkers storming the office with shotguns to; 3) catching unicorn butterflies in my time-machine net.

    And while I completely agree that it’s nice (required, even) to turn the brain off sometimes, I’ll stick to re-reading Winnie the Pooh or discovering another book meant for the younger crowd.

    Oh yeah, I can’t find my scissors, either. Nor my socks. Nor my car keys. The fiance has been doing the driving lately. Not kidding.

  32. #35 by Janiera Eldridge on August 16, 2013 - 10:39 am

    Books for me are escapism and I’m an author as well. People put way too much time into “the techniques of writing” frankly, I think it is silly. Tell a good story, people want a good story. If you do that all the other technicalities doesn’t matter. Someone can be brilliant at constructing a sentence but who the hell cares? Can they tell a story. I’m glad to see in the comments people are reading books still for the story as it seems too many people are reading books to pick apart “decent” writing and grammar. Which is kind of sad.

    • #36 by swiveltam on August 29, 2013 - 11:00 pm

      I’m glad someone said that. Of course we should still strive to be the best writers we can.

  33. #37 by Darci on August 16, 2013 - 10:42 am

    I have to sit this one out. I tried really hard to read 50Shades but I could only manage 3 chapters then I though “OMG life is TOO short for this crap” and went for a walk and hugged my kid and read a chapter of Stephen King to fix my brain.

  34. #38 by billgncs on August 16, 2013 - 10:54 am

    it’s the cure for the woman surrounded by metrosexual men.

  35. #39 by Bryan reeves on August 16, 2013 - 11:05 am

    Our culture has such a dysfunctional relationship to its sexuality. It’s no wonder a book like this – one that does all that you just wrote of AND incorporates well written sexual erotica – did so well. Of course, whatever serendipitous magic embraced it during early promotional efforts didn’t hurt. I also haven’t read it so maybe I have no idea what I’m talking about … except to say we are literally f#*&ed up around sexuality. That much I’m sure about!

  36. #40 by Dennis Langley on August 16, 2013 - 11:07 am

    Wow, you really need some sleep! Please refer to Kessie’s comments ;-)

  37. #41 by Pamela Beason on August 16, 2013 - 11:21 am

    Hilarious as usual! I’m not a mom because the kids would be locked in closets then, but as a single, self-employed author, tech writer, and private investigator, I certainly have the guilt of not being about to do anything as well as I should. Also, since I was raised in rural Kansas, I could never admit to reading 50 Shades (even if I had, which I haven’t) because that feels sort of akin to discussing someone’s sex life in public. But that’s just me, and I don’t judge others who have read it. Plus, I do applaud ANY author who succeeds in this tough market.

  38. #42 by Melissa Lewicki on August 16, 2013 - 11:25 am

    “No, it isn’t fair, but fair is a weather condition.” I love this phrase. I have never heard it before. Off topic, I know.
    I tell myself stories to fall asleep.
    As teenagers, we selfishly liked it when our mom would get insomnia. She would get up and knit us beautiful sweaters. That woman could read a book, watch TV, knit, drink coffee and smoke–ALL at the same time. And go to work in the morning.

  39. #43 by harleybrooks on August 16, 2013 - 11:34 am

    Fifty Shades fried the hard-drive in my internal editor and my Kindle wouldn’t accept the red pencil and highlighter marks. Donald Maass and Linda Cron did a blog on “Fifty Lessons from Fifty Shades of Grey” and the summation was “…popularity and greatness are two different things.”

    As far as housework? I clean the guest bath, then return to the living room and draw an arrow in the dust on the coffee table to where it’s located.

  40. #44 by Janet B on August 16, 2013 - 11:50 am

    For people to dis 50 Shades of Grey without reading it, at least read it if you are going to go off about it. Yes, I realize that the writing leaves much to be desired, BUT the books succeed because of the STORY, Anyway, it it good to try to figure out how the books became a best seller. because wouldn’t all of us want this success? Check out these two articles. Because, I think all of us can learn something. Here are some lessons from 50 S of G.

    http://writerunboxed.com/2013/08/06/fifty-lessons-from-fifty-shades-of-grey-part-i/

    http://writerunboxed.com/2013/08/07/fifty-lessons-from-fifty-shades-of-grey-part-ii/

    • #45 by swiveltam on August 29, 2013 - 11:54 pm

      Thank you for being open minded :)

  41. #46 by cynthiagrstacey on August 16, 2013 - 12:07 pm

    I picked up 50 shades, the first book after hearing all the hype. I don’t normally read erotica but have been known to read a harlequin or too. I prefer the historical romance if I’m going to read that kind of story (personally prefer sci fi and fantasy but I digress) The appeal of these types of books for me is that the woman is being dominated at first but I like reading how she overcomes her ‘alpha male’ sounterpart and manipulates him into doing what she wants. In 50 shades I kept hoping for this and a couple times going ‘seriously girl smarten the ^%$ up!’ I read the second book because it alluded to this happening. I never read the third book. While the erotica part of it has its own appeal at times(turning the furnace on) I think sometimes fantasy is usually better than reality, so while women enjoy reading about it, they don’t necessarily want to do it. I hope my rambling makes sense as I too suffer from insomnia so Kristen I feel for ya!

  42. #47 by Ross Lampert on August 16, 2013 - 12:11 pm

    Hi, Kristin. Sorry you’re struggling with insomnia. Don’t have anything to offer on that, except sympathy. LOVE the blog, though. I’m a fan and often share your posts with my writers’ group.

    On 50 Shades, I’ll be one of the rare (brave?) men to comment on it, with the caveat that, no, I haven’t read the books either and don’t really care to. BUT! Super-agent Donald Maass and writer Lisa Cron did and posted a three-part series on Writer Unboxed titled “50 Lessons from Fifty Shades of Grey” (to be clear, lessons about writing :) ). The short version of their (70+, actually) lessons is that E. L. James, for all the poor writing, created characters that readers could connect with–if they could get past the sexual stuff, the poor writing, etc. Here are two of the last three paragraphs of the final post:

    “If you’re still having a hard time submitting to Fifty Shades of Grey, if you still hate it, you can hang onto this: The moral values beneath James’s story are age old. What does Fifty Shades of Grey celebrate–? Purity and the one-true-love ideal. Nothing revolutionary in that.

    “And that’s the point. Great fiction not only moves our hearts but makes us think. It shakes and changes us. Fifty Shades of Grey merely affirms that which many readers believe. Its conceit is clever, but behind the gimmick there’s a simple and unchallenging message. James’s novel is popular, but popularity and greatness are two different things.”

    You may find their conclusions hard to believe. If so, read the posts and see how they justified coming to them.

    If anyone’s interested, here are the links to the three parts of the series:
    Part 1: http://writerunboxed.com/2013/08/06/fifty-lessons-from-fifty-shades-of-grey-part-i/
    Part 2: http://writerunboxed.com/2013/08/07/fifty-lessons-from-fifty-shades-of-grey-part-ii/
    Part 3: http://writerunboxed.com/2013/08/08/fifty-lessons-from-fifty-shades-of-grey-part-iii/

  43. #48 by M T McGuire on August 16, 2013 - 12:21 pm

    50 Shades… awful writing, kind of interesting story in a cartoony kind of way. I read the first one and then the stock phrases like ‘he pressed his mouth into a firm hard line’ became like white noise and I couldn’t go on.

    I think you may have got this one right, or as near as. I, for one, certainly don’t get it.

    Cheers

    MTM

  44. #49 by Ann on August 16, 2013 - 12:22 pm

    I’m going to be honest, I enjoyed reading the 50 Shades books. I also liked Monty Python and the Holy Grail, so that probably means something. I have no interest in either lifestyle (BDSM or hunting grails while someone clops behind me with coconuts), but that doesn’t mean I can’t dream of being rich enough that my husband buys me an RX-8 or of taking down the Black Knight. It doesn’t have to be great literature to meet the expectation of escaping into a strange and unusual alternate reality. I’ll never forget when my husband turned to me after watching Holy Grail and said, “Oh, there’s a plot? I never realized that before.”

    I think you’re dead on, Kristin, sometimes it’s nice to just turn off my brain and have someone entertain me. I work full-time, write, moderate writing workshops, serve as secretary for my local RWA chapter, am an adviser for a teenage youth group (we have 65 members this year), am active at church, garden, have two of my four children still at home (oh, the drama!), and haven’t seen some corners in my house in years. If my husband didn’t cook we’d go broke from eating out every night.

    Personally I’d like to hijack the Tardis and go back in time. I’d slap all the women’s libbers and tell them that instead of focusing on being allowed to work outside the home they should have spent more time convincing society that it’s sexy for husbands to work inside it. “Oh, honey, the way you vacuumed that carpet makes me want to unmake the bed!”

    Until that happens I won’t fret over those dust bunnies. I prefer to think of them as inexpensive house pets.

    • #50 by swiveltam on August 29, 2013 - 11:58 pm

      OMG. Thank you for this reply. I’m laughing my arse off and missed this on my scan through the all dismissive posts :) Going to sleep happy!!!!

  45. #51 by D.J. Parsons (@dividedwomen) on August 16, 2013 - 12:24 pm

    Too much on your mind…you’re perfect enough already. Count your blessings name them one by one…and maybe some medical mary-jane. *I’m bad*

  46. #52 by Michele Drier on August 16, 2013 - 1:04 pm

    Guilt? Insomnia? Exhaustion? OMG, did I write this blog at 3 a.m? This is just super, Kristen, and I think you’ve identified the cause of the over-the-top populatrity of 50 Shades! I’d consider being a Sub for anyone who’d make the decisions and cook my meals for a week!
    I loved this!

  47. #53 by Shea Ford on August 16, 2013 - 1:13 pm

    I can’t think of a comment to say, because of how touchy I am about women’s lib. I’ll end up ranting. :/

  48. #54 by Katy Sozaeva on August 16, 2013 - 1:36 pm

    I’ve suffered from insomnia for years, and part of the problem is that my natural cycle is backwards. I sleep better during the day. So not having to go out and work is a huge blessing (a mixed one, of course, since we can not quite survive on my husband’s salary, but I do freelance editing, so that helps). Have you tried taking melatonin? That works for me probably 80 to 90 percent of the time.

    PS: I don’t write, so please don’t include me in the giveaway thing. Others deserve that!

    • #55 by Author Kristen Lamb on August 16, 2013 - 1:39 pm

      Thanks :D. The insomnia is from back pain. I fractured my lower back in the 90s and we’ve been having unseasonably cooler weather and rain (AWESOME) but it makes my back hurt (NOT awesome). Today we went and bought a new bed. I think it might be the bed is old and too small (Hubby is 6′ 6″).

  49. #56 by brickhousechick on August 16, 2013 - 2:14 pm

    I’m not currently in a high power position (unless you are talking in the bedroom) :), I am home an unable to work due to my illness. I enjoyed 50 shades simply because it was hot and steamy. I didn’t think much about the domination aspect and just enjoyed the erotic scenes. I agree that the writing is far from decent, but it has “sparked” many relationships and opened up minds…among other things! :)

    • #57 by Author Kristen Lamb on August 16, 2013 - 2:20 pm

      No way I’m letting my husband tie me up and gag me. He’s likely to LEAVE me that way, LOL. *peace and quiet Ahhhhh*

  50. #58 by brickhousechick on August 16, 2013 - 2:27 pm

    LOL about him leaving you that way! I would end up breaking some bone in my arthritic body for sure and up end even more permanently disfigured! :)

  51. #59 by Jean M Cogdell on August 16, 2013 - 2:28 pm

    Reblogged this on jean's writing and commented:
    OMG! I get it! Wow! Maybe you’ve been confused too. But a certain big super duper NYTimes Best Selling Trilogy left me shaking my head and wondering if women everywhere had lost their fool minds.
    A huge shout out and thank you to Kristen Lamb, for opening my eyes. I now understand something that has bugged me for the last year. No, women haven’t lost their minds. We’re just tired.
    I’ve re-posted her blog for all to enjoy. When I grow up to a full-fledged writer I want to be just like Kristen.

  52. #60 by brickhousechick on August 16, 2013 - 2:31 pm

    *end up

  53. #61 by Shawn Weisser on August 16, 2013 - 3:15 pm

    Oh yes, oh so much, yes, yes, yes! I read this, out loud, to my husband. He laughed while I commiserated. My kid is 21 and is starting grad school, and I still think I may have failed her along the way. I work outside the home. I went on band trips and attended PTA and made projects and costumes, etc. When I couldn’t get it done, no one asked my husband why he didn’t jump in to get-r-done since he was a work from home dad. I pay the bills and clean the house. So, I too read *trash* upon occasion to unplug from the world. My fantasies include being a stay at home mom and wife tending garden, painting (not necessarily walls) and baking just because I want to and not because the kid needs cupcakes for an event or we need it for a staff meeting. I am not in a “high powered” position but as an elementary librarian I am in charge of only 350 kids and manage the library, student newsletter, reading clubs, etc.

    Oh, and sleep? What is that concept? I stopped sleeping about 21 years ago. Actually, I was fairly addicted to Tylenol PM for a long time and could not figure out why I was still so exhausted. My family doctor told me to stop taking it because it damages your organs. Great. AND, it does not let you get REM sleep. He suggested Melatonin – starting low at 1mg and increasing slowly until you fall asleep naturally. It doesn’t always work but 3mg usually helps me fall asleep and actually get REM sleep. I still only sleep 5-6 hours but it is real sleep, usually.

    50 Shades? Naw, I don’t want to be dominated by my husband, I just want a good night’s sleep and for my husband to remember to thaw something out for dinner when I forget and sweep the floors!

  54. #62 by corajramos on August 16, 2013 - 3:33 pm

    OMG! Someone else has to change their website password every time they log in? I thought I was the only one who can’t get it right. Even though I have a notebook full of all the passwords to every site I ever signed onto, I still can’t get that one right.

    I won’t comment on 50 Shades because I haven’t read it. I have heard the complaints and the explanations about it, and there is definitely a reason for the phenomena. I think you hit on one of the reasons for sure, but I think there is more going on than just that. I’ll be sure to let you know if I ever figure it out in one of my early 4 am euphoric sessions.

  55. #63 by Ellisha on August 16, 2013 - 4:56 pm

    Ha! You crack me up Kristen. I so enjoy your columns.
    *** I too have a problem remembering my password for my passwords.
    I think you’re probably right about the Fifty Shades of Grey thing. I haven’t read it, but some of my beta-readers have mentioned that the novel I’m working on reminds them of it. I’m not sure if this is a good thing or not… Obviously I’d love it to be as popular!
    Anyway, I think a book like Fifty Shades of Grey is appealing, because as you say, it doesn’t take a lot of brain power/commitment to consume, and, most importantly, it’s entertaining. Sometimes readers just want to be entertained (and perhaps even a little aroused).

  56. #64 by laurie27wsmith on August 16, 2013 - 5:07 pm

    Great blog again Kristen. My wife read 50 shades and her opinion was that it wasn’t all that different to a Mills and Boon but with lots of whips and chains. That and no real conclusion to the story in book one caused some disappointment. If anyone wants to read a far better novel on the subject then The Story of O, by Pauline Réage may offer a comparison to style. It actually won a French Literature award in 1955. Feminists railed against it, the French government tried to ban it, naturally it sold well.
    Cheers
    Laurie
    ps, ‘Gotta go, I can hear chains being dragged down the hallway. Dang, not the leather bikini again Dear.’

  57. #65 by Jami Gold on August 16, 2013 - 5:26 pm

    Yeah, I know enough of the inside story to know how E.L.James *manufactured* the buzz for her book. Let me put it this way, it isn’t a path open to most of us unless we have friends high up in various media outlets. :) (And don’t get me started on the fan fiction or abusive aspects. LOL!)

    Ignoring all that, you have a great point about why women who were exposed to those books are now reading similar books. I often get sick of making decisions and just want someone to READ MY MIND about what I want. :) Yep, I totally get the appeal of that aspect. LOL!

  58. #66 by Amanda Surowitz on August 16, 2013 - 7:07 pm

    I love “brilliant” midnight ideas. The last one I had was to introduce a cat as a character. I had just gotten home from work (much later than normal) and just wanted to finish the chapter I was stuck on. I fell asleep while writing, so I didn’t really remember what I had done until I read it the next morning. Not only was there a cat in the story, but I had called it “Malice.” It was definitely an unusual idea, but I think it may be one of the best midnight ideas I’ve had.

  59. #67 by Katie Cross on August 16, 2013 - 9:14 pm

    I haven’t read it either. I just kind of wanted that in the universe.

  60. #68 by heatherkinnaneauthor on August 16, 2013 - 11:26 pm

    This is such a brilliant post, Kristen! I am totally there with you! (Though my kids are past the potty training stage (only just) thank goodness!). I haven’t read 50 Shades either, though I’ve read enough about it, and I think you’re summation of why it’s so popular is pretty well right on the the money. We do control everything at home and work. I, personally, am sick of trying to decide every day what to cook for tea. They (the family) all want something different each night, but no one has any suggestions on what that should be. So yes – I want someone to take over! Not just in the bedroom… ;) ideally they’d just take over everything and delegate the odd job for me to do when I need a break from the laptop screen… “Yes I’ll hang those clothes out now, because I haven’t had to do it for a fortnight.” That would be awesome!!!

  61. #69 by Lara McGill on August 17, 2013 - 11:53 am

    I tried reading 50 Shades, but I couldn’t get past the writing. I think I lasted all of about five pages.

    Stuff at home? Things get done as they need to. I teach part-time (23.5 hours per week), I’ve got outside tutoring clients, and I also do some accounting work (currently around 10 hours per week). It’s easier for me to take charge and just tell my roommates what to do. The beta male I instruct, and he does it. The alpha male I ask, and he does it.

    Food is left up to me. They work on the premise, “It’s food, we’ll eat it.”

    For me, being in command is easier. Definitely less stressful. But Kristen, I’m with you on the lack of sleep thing. It really sucks that I need espresso shots to keep me going, since I know they impact my sleep. Vicious circle. Grrr…

  62. #70 by selfxt on August 17, 2013 - 1:37 pm

    Hello Kristen…I am worried about the ‘lack of sleep” stress you reflect.
    Please, I promise, it is simple… SURRENDER….when we cannot sleep we are not meant to sleep. It is that simple.SURRENDER. Stay awake…enjoy being awake.

    I have tested this theory many times. If I cannot sleep then I stay awake. I do nothing. I look; I watch shadows on the wall; I listen; I talk to myself…kind words, poetry, whispers and joy.

    In the morning I am alive and vibrant and there appears to be no “lack of sleep” syndrome.

    I am alive….you in stress is not a good awakening!

  63. #72 by kitdunsmore on August 17, 2013 - 2:11 pm

    I am always wondering how a poorly written book can be a huge hit, and I think you are on to some good ideas here. Especially the idea that easy is what it’s about. Badly written books that pull you along with unanswered questions and unexpected plot twists can be an easy read — just not for writers.

    One explanation I would add to your list: boredom. Maybe people are having so much my-friends’-lives-are-so-way-cooler-than-mine-just-look-at-their-Facebook-pages! angst that they are bored with life and are looking for a thrill. When you haven’t got the courage to bust out of your own box, then why not read about someone else crossing the naughty line? I like it better than thinking the reading populace can’t discriminate at all and no matter how hard I work on my book, there won’t be anyone out there to appreciate that I care about punctuation and grammar.

    A fun read, as usual. Thanks for using your insomnia to brighten my day!

  64. #73 by ccdenham on August 17, 2013 - 2:23 pm

    Ehhh… I’m someone who does care about quality writing, and I am also someone who loves reading (and writing!) quality erotica. *And* quality BDSM erotica. I’m a little surprised and disappointed that no one else has sounded in from my corner. 50 SoG is NOT quality erotica, romance, nor any sort of accurate or healthy depiction of BDSM. And I truly hate that its popularity has become some sort of example for the genres as a whole. There are plenty of well-plotted, engaging, and well-written erotica and erotic romance stories with dominant and submissive characters out there. Stories that depict healthy D/s relationships, not this poorly recycled fanfic/domestic-abuse-posing-as-love-and-kink mess.

    If you haven’t read the books, and don’t wish to (or if have read them and are interested in what an author and someone who actually knows about BDSM has to say about it), might I recommend you check out Jenny Trout’s blog and 50 Shades recaps? They get a little ranty at times, but *she* is spot on. http://jennytrout.wordpress.com/jenny-reads-50-shades-of-grey/

    As for why FSoG is so popular? Hype, plain and simple. Hype mixed with “naughty” = trendy as hell. I can only hope that somewhere in this mess, more people might discover that not all romance and erotica is poorly-written dreck with alpha-jerk heroes and too-stupid-to-live heroines.
    :(

    • #74 by Author Kristen Lamb on August 17, 2013 - 3:59 pm

      Thanks for the feedback and I agree. I actually have friends who’ve won awards for this genre. If I ever did try out reading these books, I’d use my money to support them instead. When Twilight became a huge success I had so many writers as why it was successful…so I read it. 12 hours I can never get back. Have done that with a few books that were “hype.” By the time 50 Shades came along? I am just not making time for that.

  65. #75 by lisawhitefern on August 17, 2013 - 6:59 pm

    Damn girl! With your insomnia I think you … kind of just did a thing, you’d probably advise other writers not to do….maybe? Here I am a HUGE brand new fan of your blog, getting all excited about it, and putting a link to your blog on mine, and you….diss my genre? :-( lol I will forgive you just this once. I wrote a very short blog on the popularity of 50 shades (very short) you might want to check out. I don’t think it can be boiled down to pure hype alone.

    • #76 by Author Kristen Lamb on August 17, 2013 - 7:16 pm

      Not at all. Roni Loren is a beloved author (and she writes erotica). I think 50 Shades did it’s job. It filled a gap. That’s what writers should do. Entertain. Transport people. Fill a need. E.L. did that whether other writers like that or not ( and this is a humor blog induced by a week’s insomnia :D).

      • #77 by lisawhitefern on August 17, 2013 - 7:52 pm

        I am still a big fan of your blog. :-) I suffer from insomnia also, and the blog WAS funny, and well written. It’s amazing you can do that while suffering from insomnia. :-) <3

  66. #79 by amandalewisab on August 18, 2013 - 11:34 am

    I have a few things to say about this. I also have a 3 year old and yes she’s potty trained but no she can’t read; so everything in perspective. I’m also a modern woman who works (nights) and I like deffering to my husband for most decisions. It makes me feel like we’re deciding together but really it might be that if it turns out bad then the blame isn’t all mine. :) The one bad thing about working nights is that it’s hard to care about the dust bunnies and the the no-see-ems flying over the day old dishes when you’re so damn tired you can’t see straight. So most of the time I just pretend that I don’t see them and go to sleep. Nobody’s perfect and frankly I don’t even try to be. :)

  67. #80 by Debi on August 18, 2013 - 12:07 pm

    Laughing hysterically, Kristen!!! Thank you for a funny, heartwarming blog! But I gotta say your pile of “mess” doesn’t cut it. First, the clothes are “laid out,” almost neatly. And what’s with the pillows behind? In perfect symmetry? (Can I spell? I don’t know. Can’t remember if there’s 2 m’s or 1.) Now I have a new name for myself, too. Reformed English teacher. I love that. And the password for my passwords? Oh, that is sooo true and had me rollin’. Ok, the 50’s and boythingshavenot changed portion hit me right in the funny bone, though it’s really not that funny. What is up with that? I suppose it goes back to the Mars/Venus thing, but oh, well,.
    ..I love your blog. I love how you think. Keep it coming.

  68. #81 by Lynn Reynolds on August 18, 2013 - 12:14 pm

    Hilarious and too true in so many ways. Forwarded the link to this post to several fellow writer/moms. Thanks for the laugh!

  69. #82 by adstarrling on August 18, 2013 - 4:38 pm

    Oh God! That made me laugh so hard. Thank you for that post. All the comments make me realise that we’re all in the same boat re: our crazy lives. Hope you catch some winks soon. Haven’t read 50 Shades but know many friends who have. It’s a light entertaining read at the end of the day and I think no one has worked out quite why some books are runaway successes and others that are equally as good if not better aren’t.

  70. #83 by Dave Lozeau on August 18, 2013 - 5:18 pm

    As always, Kristen, what can I say. And you know me, I speak my mind. For one, your blog post is great. Of course, being a woman and talking about 50 Shades should be easy, whether you have read it or not. There has been enough hype about E.L. and her book that I think we all get the picture. I have not read the book, and don’t plan on reading the book. (And being a man, one would think that the imagination alone would be enough to want to pick it up and peruse the pages)
    My wife, an avid reader, but not of erotica, did have the chance to read 50 Shades because her daughter bought it. She got half way through the second chapter and put it down.
    As for your insomnia, I hope the new bed you mentioned on FB will help. But if it doesn’t, just remember, I’m the friend that is always there at 4am to chat on FB. YOU are not alone!

  71. #84 by bustopher on August 18, 2013 - 6:07 pm

    I totally agree with you. I haven’t read 50 Shades of Gray and have NO interest (I love literary fiction), but I think your reasons for its popularity are spot on. And yes, mothers always feel like failures, no matter how much we do for our children. I could go on and on about this (maybe I will, in a blog post). And I suffer from insomnia too. I’ve been using the time I’m awake at 3, 4, 5 a.m. to read. It helps me fall back to sleep and gives me time to read. I sleep better when I exercise, but I don’t have the time or energy to exercise every day–especially after not having slept well the night before. Catch 22!

  72. #85 by macswriter on August 19, 2013 - 3:30 am

    Funny! As usual Kristen. Me, when I have insomnia, my thoughts run to the catastrophic-apocalyptic. Then I envision myself as a super-hero with boundless strength, energy and intellect, solving huge problems: rescuing my kid and everyone else’s, engineering housing, water, sewer and transportation solutions, organizing groups, leading excursions- my version of taking control of the chaos that life throws our way. It’s amazing what I can do at 4am. Thanks for a great post.

  73. #86 by Sarah Brabazon on August 21, 2013 - 8:23 pm

    Kristen, I’m late coming to the conversation because I’ve been at the Romance Writers of Australia conference, which included a day of academics talking about romance… academically. Fifty Shades came up more than once. I did read all three of the books, and I can say that the theme of all three is ‘the redeeming power of unconditional love’ and also that no English teacher will ever require anybody to read them. The number of kinky encounters could be counted on the fingers of the hand of a clumsy butcher’s apprentice, and the fantasy is twofold: Ana Steele is a character who could fall over on a flat, level surface and can’t work a laptop or mobile phone. Any woman can paint herself into the character; and secondly, she NEVER has to stack the dishwasher.
    Secretly we all want a hot guy to sweep us off our feet and pay for a cleaner.

  74. #87 by Kate on August 23, 2013 - 12:37 pm

    Reblogged this on Some of my favourite posts.

  75. #88 by pamelacreese on August 26, 2013 - 9:55 pm

    I am a ‘modern’ woman. I have not read Shades of Grey nor do I have any desire to do so. No matter their seeming popularity, I don’t have the time or inclination to read poorly written smut.

    Speaking with other females…none of us can figure out why these books would be read and attribute it to mad cow disease, subliminal messages during their pedicures (uh oh… is THAT why you want a 24 hour mani/pedi shop?), or some other inexplicable phenomonom that created a tsunami of readers starved for …. we couldn’t even figure out WHAT.

    It would be interesting to know, though :)

  76. #89 by J.E. Ryder (@Jeryder5Author) on August 27, 2013 - 11:06 am

    A great post from you, as always, Kristen. Have re-blogged to http://jeryder.blogspot.co.uk/2013/08/insomnia-wizard-vans-and-why-modern.html

  77. #90 by Karen Griffin on August 28, 2013 - 1:37 pm

    Didn’t read 50 Shades. Did read the first book in the Twilight series though. I made the mistake of mocking the series while talking to Twi-head who had the sense to ask which of the books I read and called me out for being a hypocrite for putting down a book I’d never read. So I read the first one and it was EVERYTHING I expected it to be, it was that awful. I’ve learned the hard way to either keep my mouth shut or just say, “Yeah, heard about it, but I don’t plan on reading it. Doesn’t sound like my cup of espresso.”

    As for 50 Shades, you’re probably right, though I don’t think it’s just the “modern” women who are into this type of thing. When you think about it, being a housewife and a mother IS a full time job with beau coup responsibilities. Not getting paid for it doesn’t make it less so. I think the difference between the 1950’s housewives of days gone by and the women of today is that back then, they weren’t as open about sex. Just talking about the straight stuff was considered taboo, never mind anything with a little kink.

    Re-blogged here: http://doomtown-doomtown.blogspot.com/2013/08/insomnia-wizard-vans-and-why-modern.html

  78. #91 by swiveltam on August 29, 2013 - 11:44 pm

    Well I gotta say I read this blog and read the posts it’s been niggling me all day:
    I don’t think it’s fair to write about 50 Shades and comment it if you’ve NOT read it. It’s like Christians arguing with Buddhist and neither has taken time to understand each others doctrines, or read the Tao de Ching AND the Bible. Okay, maybe not that drastic, but its lacking. I guess you could argue if you don’t eat meat you wouldn’t like Boeuf Bourguignon, but I’m not going for it.
    I ADMIT it, I read 50 Shades, I did not buy it, borrowed it. I was of the opinion that is was terrible and stupid and beneath me. Oh yeah, a girl suggested it for our book club and I pooh-poohed it away. (anyone else felt that way?) Then my MOM suggested I read it, yup, I said my MOM and she’s in her 60s and she reads everything, from Jane Austen to Stephen King to Pearl S. Buck to Tracy Chevalier to Shakespeare.
    So, here’s why I DIDN’T hate it and why I think many people kept reading (They’re not all illiterate trash fictions readers as reviewers might have you believe, though now everyone is afraid to admit they liked it b/c then people will think they don’t know good literature). But hey, I can enjoy fried chicken just as much as I can Coq au Vin (Yeah more food, I’m dieting, can you tell?) Okay, let me put it this way, I can enjoy Dan Brown just as much as M. Somerset Maugham or Nabokov.
    Back to my point: You cannot sustain three novels on sex alone. No way.
    Here’s the secret:
    Christian Gray was a sympathetic compelling character. There I said it, that’s right. COMPELLING. Yeah, Anastasia was annoying, but I kept reading because I wanted to know WHY Gray was the way he was and IF he was capable of change and compromise and the writer elicited sympathy from me. COMPELLING!!!! Oh, and as a side bonus my husband wasn’t too sad about me reading them either ;)

  79. #92 by swiveltam on August 29, 2013 - 11:51 pm

    One more question: Anyone else read D.H. Lawrence, Henry Miller, Anais Nin, Chalres Bukowski, or Fanny Hill? Todays smut could be tomorrows Literature.

  80. #93 by Michelle Morrison on September 9, 2013 - 12:52 pm

    Great post, I love your insight on books like 50 Shades of Gray. I downloaded a sample, read it and didn’t care for it. My take is that more often than not the “best sellers” are over rated. I don’t say that to be disrespectful to the authors. I admire them for getting their books published and I figure they must be doing something right for people to be reading them. Sometimes you do need to take a break from real life and indulge in some fluff.

  81. #94 by selfxt on September 9, 2013 - 2:16 pm

    I’m trying to fluff a bestseller and even pasted on a piece of fluff for that authentic feel. A dot of perfume on every page could work….No! That’s too much…a dot on
    every page becomes intoxicating…every fifty.
    And don’t make love on the page this is not a photocopy machine, because then the two pages will stick together. That will spoil the storyline.
    Oh but this is not about story and structure and that sort of beat…..it’s about fluff.
    Okay, smear it on fifty pages thick.

  82. #95 by Raani York on September 17, 2013 - 5:18 pm

    I love your blog post – and the way it’s explaining things – I do understand what you’re saying – even though I have to admit I never read the 50 shades of grey… I’ve got so many books on my pile – and those aren’t on top of the pile. But thanks for sharing this!

  83. #96 by TamarinaDeSilva on October 17, 2013 - 6:42 am

    I laughed out loud at this. I like your humourous take on us modern women. I hope you may like my blog too at http://publicworkingsofaprivatefeminist.blogspot.co.uk/ (it’s brand new)

  84. #97 by Isa M. on December 20, 2013 - 1:42 am

    Women’s logic on sex, these are pictures every man can probably relate to

    http://www.qltyctrl.com/womens-logic-sex-pt-1-12-pics/

  1. Insomnia, Wizard Vans, and Why Modern Women Read “50 Shades of Grey” | Darswords

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