This week…and popularity

Book just finished. Three Musketeers. Oh and Fade to Black (got my galley proofs! Mostly I read and thought, who wrote this? Cos it wasn’t me…)

Words written: only 4k this week – see above re galley proofs. But I have next week off work, so fingers crossed for more wordage.

And onto…popularity.

This one has been brewing awhile, but a sudden outcrop of ‘OMG 50 Shades of Grey is crap’ prompted this.

So maybe it is, and maybe it isn’t – I couldn’t really say, having only read the sample. Not my cup of tea, but does that make it crap? Because while right now, maybe people are reading because of the hype, to begin with people picked it up and read it because, well probably because one of their friends or someone online said ‘OMG you have to read this!’ because they liked it. Whatever you think of the writing, people liked it. It gave them pleasure. So the author has undoubtedly done something right. Good for her, is all I can think. Same goes for Twilight, and the Davinci Code etc. The authors of these stories got something right. They gave a lot of people a lot of pleasure, and that’s why they are popular (and why my sister in law has a picture of Edward Cullen as the wallpaper on her phone).

And it seems when something becomes popular, or it gets nommed for an award when you or I don’t particularly care for it or whatever, it gets fashionable to say it’s crap. Tosh, pulp, hack-work. Why is that? I mean, my husband loves a particular series of books, which I won’t name. But it has ‘bestseller’ stamped all over the covers, they always have multiple copies in stock in Waterstone’s, and it is from what I can gather pretty popular. I couldn’t get past page 3 of the prologue without rolling my eyes. Does that make it crap? Or just not my thing? I don’t like it, but I can’t call it crap. Why? Because I see the pleasure my husband gets from it, how excited he gets about the story and I think, well then. It’s done its job. Not for me, but for him.

When reader voted awards short lists get announced, you see people mutter about ‘well, those aren’t very good books, it’s just a popularity contest’ and I think, ‘So? What’s wrong with that? What’s wrong with a book being popular so people vote for it?’

Because I am writing, for the most part, to give pleasure to people who like a good story. I read for pleasure – I expect we all do, though what form that pleasure takes will differ in all of us. I like to be transported from this world to another, to see excitement, adventure and really wild things. I like to see new worlds from someone else’s eyes, and emotion and passion and tragedy. If you can give me deeper meaning as well, bonus! Some people read only for deeper meaning. Some people read to escape. Neither is any better reason to read. Someone once told me online that reading only for pleasure/fun would make me stupid, like eating only Big Macs would make me fat. Which kind of boggled me…I know highly intelligent people who read just for vicarious pleasure, not for anything else, but for escapism. The lawyer who sees enough grit every day, thankyouverymuch, and so escapes into a romance when she gets the chance. One of my brothers, who tbh is so intelligent it’s scary, has a job requiring large inputs of brain power, so when he isn’t working, his books are pure escapism – James Bond being favourite.

These books are popular, and they are doing the job the reader needs them to do – giving them the sort of pleasure they require. If they do that, then they aren’t crap, no matter what I think of the writing.

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