When Johnny Cash described Ireland as 40 Shades of Green in his delighfully romantic song written in 1961, he describes moorlands and meadows, with their forty shades of green, and a girl he misses from Tipperary town.
Yes it is a bit “twee,” but it’s romantic. It works. My parents waltzed to it, turned the radio up and sang along with Johnny Cash whenever it was played. It is the unofficial national anthem of Ireland. Boy meets girl, boy falls in love with girl, boy pines for girl, and so on and so on.
When E L James wrote Fifty Shades of Grey in her poorly penned erotic “book” she describes clinical sex, domination, control freaks, sex freaks, and stupid college girls. Boy meets girl, boy ties girl up, boy has his naughty way with girl, boy falls in love with girl, and so on and so on. Yes, it is filthy, I got three quarters way through it and still wasn’t hooked.
Don’t get 40 Shades of Green mixed up with Fifty Shades of Grey!
The characters in EL James’ book are so cardboard, that I couldn’t care less if Grey, the dominant, and Steele, the submissive, nailed each other to the wooden crucifix at the end of his bed, tied themselves in chains dangling from the ceiling, or imploded upon impact. I take that back, imploding upon impact would have done both characters a great justice.
40 Shades of Green and Fifty Shades of Grey have colors, numbers, and shades in their titles, they share no other attributes. So when buying your little old Irish mother a gift this Christmas, read all labels carefully. But who knows? She might appreciate some erotica in her life.
Most middle aged women I know, and older ladies too, loved the book. These are not silly women, nor are they women lacking anything in their lives, nothing that they have shared with me anyway. This is the part of Fifty Shades of Grey that amazes me. It is a hit among older women.
E L James has somehow captured the attention of middle-aged women, and senior citizens too, with a book that I think is written badly. One of the women who read it and loved it, taught elementary school all of her life, and is now in her late sixties. I just don’t understand it!
Here I am, toiling over three manuscripts that I have written over the last seven years, each about 400 pages long. I write, revise, rewrite, edit and choose sentences carefully. I want to take my readers visually and sensually to the places I have created on the page.
I forgot the golden rule though, write for the reader. Write for your audience.
I write in a style that I like to read. I read like a writer, and write like a reader. Fifty Shades of Grey, although not a book that I enjoyed, or indeed desired to finish, showed anyone with dreams of getting a book published that you don’t have to be a great writer in order to get a book published, you just have to consider the audience.
So, with that in mind, I ask you, should we be somewhat worried about the audience? Grannies gone wild?