I LOVED Fifty Shades of Grey. Boom. There I said it. Yes, the ‘inner goddess’ thing is a bit yawn and I can sort of see why all the feminists are up in arms but it’s got that clever little spark that always reels me in. I like to call it the ‘love hook’. I’m sure there’s some fabulously technical term for it in the publishing world but that’s what works for me.
It’s more than the initial ‘grab’ that us writers are told to inflate our first chapter with. It’s that WHAM BAM moment, usually about a third in, when you know you’re in big trouble. The book becomes an obsession. Your baby’s screaming for a feed but you Can’t. Quite. Put. It. Down. It’s the realization that you’re going to be in mourning for these characters long after the book (fingers crossed a trilogy) has ended…
It’s there in the little things. Not the big set pieces. It’s an emerging connection between the two lead characters that goes way beyond the sizzling sex and ridiculous sub-plots. With Dirty Dancing it’s the scene in the lake when the music goes all mushy but you know that Baby’s in far deeper stuff than the water. With Fifty Shades it’s the texts and emails. It’s the development of a relationship. It’s the flirting… god the flirting. It’s sooo good. Bravo, E.L. James. You deserve the squillions and Jamie Dornan just for that.
Still I wonder if E.L. could have created the same intense magic if she’d had a toddler flinging breadsticks at her. Or if she’d felt Mother’s Guilt wagging her bony little finger in her face for playing the same Paw Patrol episode four times in a row in a bid to keep her kids amused whilst she finished.
I was in Sainsbury’s last week sans kids (it’s amazing how pleasurable food shopping becomes when you don’t have rowdy children in tow trying to capsize the trolley), and I indulged myself with a quick flick though a well-known writer’s magazine. Inside was an article about how some pro organised his day. I skim-read the blurb in bewilderment. It went something like this: Awake at 7am. Coffee at 8am. An hour of social media, and then three solid hours of writing before lunch, and so on and so forth…
You mean no tetchy, drawn-out breakfasts featuring ‘the wrong cereal’, despite the little buggers specifically requesting it? No tears because i’ve used the Frozen lunchbox instead of the Cinderella one, followed by the endless school drop-offs which have to be timed Just So otherwise the youngest will sit down in the middle of the road and refuse to budge. Then it’s home for the washing-up, answering work emails, yadda yadda yadda until FINALLY I can kick-start the writing. ‘Bastard,’ I muttered resentfully (no offence intended.) I felt like puking with envy all over the petit filous.
But such is the lot of writers who are juggling mummyhood, or indeed daddyhood, whilst pursuing their dreams. ‘Prioritise!’ I hear you howl. ‘Feck off…’ I growl. Because despite my love of writing my kids will always come first. But by the time evening rolls around I’m often too shattered and traumatised by the ‘bedtime routine’ to fire up the creativity. I hold my hands up to you, Stephanie Meyer, you of Twilight Fame, who supposedly wrote your books when your children were asleep. I leave it to the weekend when my husband can deal with the nighttime howlers and early starts, and I can really get stuck in. What a legend he is. He deserves his very own blog for outstanding contributions to the cause.
And then there’s the ultimate distraction… Writing a blog when I should be finishing my latest book.