Twihards v the Grey-sessed: does it matter?


Today I had a paradigm shift.  I assumed that FSOG lovers, the true died in the wool fans that I encounter online, would also have at least engaged with Twilight in some way.  Either have read it and then moved on to FSOG, or realized the connection and have looked into reading the books.  Not everyone, or even I suspect most, have.  And I find it interesting that we have all come at this from different perspectives.

There were some who had never, and declared they would never read Twilight; some who had dipped their toes in as concerned mothers or benevolent aunts and read one or two of the books or seen one of the movies but were not interested in pursuing it further; and the few, a largely silent few, who like me,  were bordering on Twihards as well as Grey-sessed.  The ‘tried to read it but couldn’t get into it’ comments are surprising for me since I think that Stephenie Meyer is a vastly superior writer (put that into perspective, Jane Austen, she ain’t).  I almost had the same experience reading FSOG, having two false starts before I went into an FSOG binge one weekend.

I have picked up the book ‘Fifty Writers on Fifty Shades of Grey’ just to expand my perspective and I note that editor Lori Perkins has been through some paradigm shifts of her own.  She calls herself, as a literary agent of some standing in erotica fiction, a ‘feminist pornographer’ but says as a young feminist she looked down on romance and the idea of submission, even though it is acknowledged ‘that the fantasy of complete surrender to an alpha male is the leading daydream of the majority of American women’.  There are some blogs that I am linked into here that will be wanting to rip my arms off about now but remember I didn’t say it, she did.  Doesn’t help to say that I believe that she could be right, does it?

Tiffany Reisz  in her essay in this collection by Perkins, says that the writing and the reading of erotica is part of the dream.  We long for the hero in the story we cannot and probably will never have. The beautiful, ‘damaged and distant’ man whose desires ‘inflame and terrify’ us.  She was, of course, writing about EL James journey to being published as only Reisz can write, with her ear for lyrical and poetic phrasing.  And we all know the story of how Edward came to Meyer in a dream, obviously a beautiful sparkly dream set in a meadow.

Are there any rights or wrongs to how we arrive at or consume these stories? As a teen I thought I hated erotica or anything as frivolous as romance literature.  I was serious about story and theme and loved authors who had a different kind of voice.  Then I read some Sidney Sheldon and Jacqui Collins and I knew I couldn’t hold on to the pretense.  When I had devoured most of Stephen King’s books because I was in love with a boy who only read Stephen King, I also encountered the phrase, literary hamburgers.  King has always said that his books are meant to be consumed, quickly and in vast quantities, they are not nutritious and he never intends them to be so.

 #19: Devouring a Book !

For most of the past ten years I have immersed myself in historical romances and have a vast collection of works in my personal library.  Like all genres, there are good and bad stories, well-written and carefully crafted language alongside some utter tripe.  What I do know about the genre now that I didn’t know before is how difficult it is to write them.  There are rules around the sub-genres that need to be learned and adhered to or it is likely you will never be read let alone sell.  I see these protocols in the world of FanFic.  While I think my writing is standing up okay to others in the FSOG Fanfic community – that is not to deny that there are some really terrific, funny and beautifully crafted that I couldn’t hope to emulate.  However, there is also really bad storytelling, sloppy prose and editing that is worse than mine.  In terms of a sheer numbers game (being reviewed and followed), I have done some things wrong. First I wrote out of the canon in many ways because the diehard fans want Christian and Ana stories and mine, as you can clearly see, are not.  I am also irregular with my posts, no one knows when they are coming.  I posted too much too early and then ran out of steam.  I have faithful readers who are patient and kind but reading tourists might not hang around long enough to see the next chapter.  I also don’t review anywhere near enough hence my desire to get the Wednesday Review happening this year.  I know that is not reviewing Fan Fics but you never know, my Fan Fic buddies might publish something one day that I can review on Goodreads. The upshot is, I am a bad community member because I don’t contribute back.  But I am learning and will continue to learn and develop.

Does it bother me that there are FSOG fans, great writers among them who don’t know and don’t care about the thematic links between FSOG and Twilight? Only in as much as they may be depriving themselves of that journey and enhanced understanding of the characters.  It is a bit like having a favorite band but not knowing who their musical influences are.  I think of this as learning genealogically.  On the other hand, it doesn’t diminish the great work that they are doing extending the FSOG story.  So no, it doesn’t bother me at all. After all, I have made almost no attempt to find out who Meyer was reading before she wrote Twilight – does anyone know?

13 thoughts on “Twihards v the Grey-sessed: does it matter?

    • Thanks, I may have spent too much time monitoring fb discussions today. Lol

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      • skinsavant says:

        after reading a post on fifty shades of grey fanfiction page on facebook where a lot of the group members (both writers and reviewers) have not read MOTU (and a lot of them requesting, begging for the pdf), the office, the university of edward masen and other twilight fanfiction, i was really shocked! you see, i’m a 56-year-old mom of two grown-up sons (36 and 22) who would take me to dinner followed by twilight midnight showings 5 years and a row! and then i would see them again with my sisters, female and gay friends! and you know what, i’m not ashamed or afraid to admit that i’m a twinerd (and in love with rob pattinson 🙂 and adore kristen stewart and have always believe that their incredible chemistry (like it or not) had contributed to twilight’s phenomena). when i read some of the same people bashing twilight (the book, the movie, and/or the actors) it would make me upset as i felt that these people were disrespecting stephenie meyer! i’m sorry, but if it weren’t for SM and twilight, E.L. James and Sylvain Reynard and the other twilight fanfiction authors, who have now been published, would have not been in the position where they are now. i would be reposting a link of this great article on our FB page in case some the group have missed it. thank you again for writing this!

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        • Thank you so much. I am always happy when I meet other lovers of Twilight because I think we understand FSoG in a completely different way. We understand how EL James was manipulating themes in different ways e.g Edward being physically frozen in time as an adolescent boy v CG being psychologically frozen in time as an adolescent as a victim of abuse. I am not sure that others get those nuances that James placed on character motivations and themes. With Reynard, he has frozen Gabriel in a memory or a hauntology as a result of drug abuse. And the idea that Edward, Gabriel and Christian are all convinced that their souls are beyond redemption. I find many of the ff CG’s are two dimensional because of that lack of connection with the original themes but i still commend others for sharing their versions of the characters. Thank you for sharing your story.

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      • skinsavant says:

        btw…unfortunately, once fifty shades of grey movies come out, the boys will be taking me to my birthday dinners only!!! 😉

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  1. Lizzy Lyon says:

    I’m a twi-hard, fifty fan and have two kids in college. I love literary hamburgers! They are much easier on my diet. I find them completely engaging, fun to read, and great fodder for fantasy! I also love the ability to engage with the authors

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    • I have to agree with that. I spend my work day reading. Lots of heavy academic texts that are interesting but they get your mind spinning. The hamburgers are my release. I don’t have to think I just have to feel. Now I am trying to work out what all this writing is doing for my academic writing. Being obsessed means that you develop writing habits that you almost can’t control – or at least it does for me. I wonder at the transference of those habits into my work writing. Will it make me a better academic writer? Time will tell. Thanks for responding.

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  2. sombati says:

    Love this! I totally relate! Although, I am not a writer, I am definitely a research geek. I always want to know ‘more’ about my obsessions if for no other reason than to find out why I am so obsessed about it. 😉 I also find it interesting of the many ladies I know who have read FSOG, not one of them picked up on the Twilight connection on their own. After I mentioned it to them, only a couple of them said that they can definitely see it. Oh and yes….I do know about Stephanie Meyer. She is/was basically a SAHM, is of the Morman religion and lives in Utah. I remember her ‘debut’ on Ellen and her story about the dream and then she started writing it down on paper. At the time, I thought…’hmmm that is pretty cool that she wrote a book about a dream and is so successful’. That was before my interest/obsession with Twilight. I might be one of the few who saw the movie first and then decided to read to books. I went by myself to see it at the $1 show one afternoon. Wanted to see what all the ‘hype’ was about and didn’t want to be influenced by anybody going with me. I was hooked. And now here we are in FSOG time. 🙂

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    • Thanks for sharing your story. I knew about the Mormon and dream story but I wonder what writers she would say are her influences. I am also, as you can tell if you read any of my stories here, obsessed with the musical influences. This is because I am a musician myself and was raised in a musical environment. I also know the power of music and arts in children’s lives as an educator. So I have been deeply interested in the playlists that authors like Meyer create. There are definitely better YA and erotic romance authors out there than Meyer or James in terms of the craft of writing but there is something completely evocative about the sensory worlds that both create around their characters that draw us all in. Again thanks for sharing here.

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  3. (Atterbury)Liz says:

    Sasha, love this article, I always love your comments and insights. I did the Twihards vs Grey-sensed backwards (no surprise ) having read FSoG due to public curiosity (heard my local radio am DJ’s talking about it last March/April) heard the twilight connection and decided to read them for the understanding of why someone would write a story from someone else’s work? I had never heard of FF before…not having children I am truly out of the loop, I thought Twilight was a kids story about kids. I was wrong (don’t tell my husband I said that) I inhaled them and I saw the light! I then sought out this thing called FF? Only a few stories in the FSOG category, inhaled them and even checked out some twilight FF. so much it was overwhelming . I don’t agree with your comment that you don’t give back to this community, and I don’t agree with your not following the C&A canon path. You have created a fascinating and original story that weaves in & out of the original story and who’s to say your Kate & Elliot are not canon? You have created main characters out of secondary characters and I for one love it! Your contribution to this category is phenomenal. Thanks for all you share with us! XX, Liz

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    • Thank you so much Liz. My intention is always to reflect on what I am learning as a way improving my own practice but also perhaps to teach others. Which just goes to prove that learning is a lifelong process. Loved hearing your journey into FF and FSOG. xox

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