As a writer who is crafting her first novel, I am torn over E.L. James’ commercial success with her trilogy 50 Shades of Grey. On one hand, she’s living proof that any writer can strike it rich regardless of talent: fame and fortune really are nothing more than a totally random crapshoot. On the other hand, she’s living proof that writing skill doesn’t fucking matter at all when you’ve got a gimmick to sell. I wonder, daily: will my own be good enough?

Only time will tell, I guess. I’m eight chapters into my novel and there is nary a ball gag or nipple clamp to be seen. I’m beginning to have my doubts. 

E.L. James is extremely lucky to have landed so much success on her series of books. Granted, she basically took two existing characters, Edward Cullen and Bella Swan, from Stephanie Meyer’s infamous Twilight series and morphed them into Christian Grey and Anastasia Steele to suit her own perversions.

I am unashamed to admit that I am jealous of the fact that her poorly-written fan fiction has now turned her into one of the wealthiest authors on the planet. So many incredibly talented writers have to struggle every week just to keep themselves fed, and most of those people will never come close to amassing a multi-million dollar fortune from anything they write. Like winning the lottery, the stars were aligned and E.L. James happened to create something that appealed to an insatiable lust that millions of people didn’t even know they had until she capitalized on it.

I think her writing is a flailing disaster, but that’s just my own personal opinion. I’m sure plenty of people think my own work sucks ass too. It’s a part of the job and I accept it. Being writers, we leave ourselves open to criticism every day. When your work is in the public view, everyone is going to have an opinion and it won’t always be favorable. As E.L. James knows well herself, many of those opinions are wickedly mean.

Like a well-endowed phoenix rising from the ashes of scathing commentary, E.L. James continues to torture her readers and they absolutely love her for it; their quivering loins cannot possibly get enough of her drivel. The rest of us hate on her because we have far higher expectations for literature and more important things to do with our time than reading porn that’s been written with the eloquence of a fifth grader.

The world may be a just place after all. This past Monday, when E.L. James’ publicists set up a doomed-to-fail Twitter Q&A using the hashtag, #AskELJames it backfired in a spectacular fashion.

Being a hardcore critic of her work, I heard nothing about the Q&A until the assault was already over. Still, my writhing curiosity is now fully erect nonetheless and I find myself plagued by some burning questions of my own: 

• While wiping your ass with crisp hundred-dollar bills, are you ever bothered by the negative comments of those who heckle your work?

• If so, how would you rate the emotional turmoil? Is it bearable like the well-lubricated ploughing of two fingers in your sphincter? Or is it more of a deeper devastation, an exquisite agony akin to a dry strap-on pounding you in the ass? 

• What, exactly, does a Christian Grey popsicle taste like? 

• Have you ever actually used the words, “Holy cow,” while watching an erection spring free? Who the fuck says that and gets away with it? I uttered “Great googly-moogly!” in the heat of passion one time and the guy never called me back.

• Will your next book be written from the perspective of Ana’s asshole?

• How many times did you masturbate while writing your books? And who did you picture in your mind: Christian Grey or Edward Cullen?

• Do you have any plans to invent your own original characters?

• If you do, can I steal them for my own sordid fan fiction?

A writer is only as good as the body of work they are most remembered for. That simple truth is what leads me to my final and most important question for E.L. James: Are you proud of the shit-stained mark you’ve left upon the world?


A lover of lapsang souchong tea, unnaturally-colored hair, and Oxford commas, Alison’s stories are written with a signature blend of humor and brutal honesty. She often jokes that she became a writer so she could speak to the masses without actually having to TALK to them face to face, but words are indeed her greatest strength. She revels in weaving them together to tell an entertaining story, rouse laughter, offer reassurance, provide sympathy, or just to give the world a piece of her mind.


  1. I am hysterically laughing right now at the whole article, but mostly this: “Great googly-moogly!” Thank you so much for this! I might use it for my BDSM trists with my husband. 🙂

    • I’m glad you enjoyed it! “Great googly-moogly” just doesn’t get used often enough in everyday conversation. 😀

  2. Oh good lord this is my favorite of all time now, and I’ve read some pretty funny stuff regarding 50. I’m a fan fic writer myself, so it burns me twice that she made us all look like a bunch of perverted weirdos, and made millions doing it. Fanfic has long been the target of sideways glances from people who thought Oh, fan fic, that’s what people write who need to get laid more often. Thank you, EL, for confirming that myth in most people’s minds. :-/

    I think that what bothers me most is hearing people actually defend her work, as if it’s some kind of misunderstood literary innovation. Seriously, folks? I can read better porn in Hustler. More romantic, too.

    • I know what you mean. I’ll never understand it, either. I have friends and relatives who *loved* her books, saw the movie on opening night, and completely fawn over it every chance they get and I just… I just don’t get it.

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