I have to admit, I bought the FSoG bundle on kindle, long after all the books had come out. Long after I had walked past them on shelves at the local shopping mall for months. It then took me another month or so to start reading them. I tried, but like many before me I was expecting something different, in Ana’s words ‘more’. It took two more goes before I got into them. By then I had heard the hype on radio and television about how Ana could come on command and how totally ridiculous that was. I had also come across stories of under 18 year old students who were reading the books in their free time at school (yes, I am writing under a pseudonym because it is not worth the hassle trying to justify this to the other side of my life). Mini Me is 15 years old and the reason why I ever started to indulge in YA fiction like Twilight. I was concerned that FSoG might be next for her so I read it as research (LOL).
Two days and three books later when I climbed out of my pjs and faced the world again, I was flushed and let’s face it, just a little bit excited by the whole experience. SuperGeek was away travelling that weekend, hence the extended pj time. Boy was he in for a surprise when he got back.
I started to have sly discussions with select colleagues. Of course, most of my colleagues would want to buy the books just so they could smack me over the head for reading them. Feminists, especially post-structural feminists, can be a feisty lot. So there are only a couple of people who know about my secret life as Sasha J Cameron. Thank goodness they are supportive, confident and forgiving women. Now this is not to say that I think FSoG has set us back 50 years socially. In fact, I don’t think I have felt so empowered in my life. But it is a hard sell when people want to pick FSoG apart on the technicalities without understanding the cultural world it has opened up for many of us (and no, I have not suddenly found out that I have BDSM tendencies).
Since that first reading frenzy (let’s face it, if you are blogging about it you didn’t stop at one pass, right?), I have slipped out of my preoccupation with YA and historical romance (I don’t mean to be unfaithful to Stephanie Laurens, Karen Hawkins, Virginia Henley, Mary Jo Putney and the rest of those wonderful authors who have been rocking my world for the past few years) and slipped into erotica (see the WickedWriters link). I love EL James but Shayla Black /Shelly Bradley brought me to my pre-orgasmic knees and when I grow up (it was a joke) I want to write just like her. Hot, hot, hot steamy scenes.
I was into my second reading of FSoG when I started to really recognize the parallels with Twilight – the food, the music, the power exchange – so when Mini Me asked why I was so obsessed and I started to discuss the themes with her she did a Kate – petulant, hands on hips, “You know that it started of as Twilight FanFiction, don’t you?”
While I had heard of fanfic, it wasn’t something I was particularly interested in. Wasn’t it all for trekkies? Well, that started off a whole new line of inquiry for me. All my life I have been a secret writer. I have talked about writing a great romance novel for years. I always thought I would begin and end with historical romance. Suddenly all my desires were converging in one golden opportunity. FSoG Fan Fiction. I will tell you about the convergence in a different post because it is a long and detailed story. Needless to say, this is as much a process of becoming for me as it is an exercise in self study. There is every chance that no one will read this blog and that is fine – pointless – but fine. What I am hoping is that by creating it I can explore how a participatory culture like Fan Fic might improve my learning and process as a writer. I may still never publish anything of my own but I do want to know what this could offer from an educative standpoint for any one of any age.
I have thrown in some research terms here so in some ways I want to come clean. While I have been plowing through erotica at a rate of knots (no pun intended), I have also been reading FanFic, Fandom and Digital Literacies research by people like Henry Jenkins, Rebecca Black, Colin Lankshear, James Gee. My latest purchase is by Tanya Erzen Fanpire: The Twilight Saga and the Women Who Love It. Anyone who wanted to, heaven forbid, trawl through my kindle library at the moment would be stunned by the mix. It also includes books on how to write steamy sex scenes, but I digress. I am not a literacy expert – anyone who tries to read my writing can tell I don’t quite have those skills – but I am a pedagogy and curriculum expert so I am interested in the ways that taking part help us to learn and grow.
Eventually, I will delve into why I think FSoG is great in terms of service to the world. For all those who want to put these books down and tell us why they are robbing our souls, I blow a great big academic and literary raspberry. I have never had so much fun in my life as this last month when I wrote Investing Elliot. It was a wonderful release (from marking 6000 word essays) and something I will be repeating soon. I, for one, think EL James is amazing for what she has done, just by opening up the conversation for women to take back their sexual power, and for what she allows us to continue to do as writers through fan fiction.
BTW – Mini Me still hasn’t read, nor does she have any desire to read FSoG, and that is okay by me. She might come back to it when she is older and ready for it. And no, she does not read any of my fan fiction, even though she is already a better writer than me. She was last seen in her room reading Little Women.
See you on the flipside,