Fifty Shades of Graham

Warning: May contain scenes of a sexual nature (but don’t count on it)…

I’ve been continuing to make occasional submissions to short story competitions, and in the spirit of ‘Fifty Shades’, I recently submitted a story to the Stringybark Erotic Fiction competition.

Stringybark is an Australian publisher that runs regular competitions on various themes and publishes the best entries in anthologies. You don’t have to be Australian to enter, but your story does have to relate in some way to Australia. I guess if it’s set in Southend you could always have a kangaroo hop down the pier.Kangaroo

It’s the first time I’ve done erotic fiction, so I had to write something specially. I’ll write anything me; poetry, song lyrics, letters to my MP (or anyone’s MP), IT manuals. The idea of writing erotic fiction didn’t really bother me, but I haven’t really read much, unless you count DH Lawrence, so I wasn’t quite sure what would be required. I guess I could have bought the anthology from their last competition, but it gets expensive if you do that for every competition, and in any case, I don’t get much time to read these days. I aimed for a dark, subtle eroticism, fairly abstract, with lots of descriptive text; nothing too explicit. The feedback they gave me was very positive about the quality of my writing, but was also pretty clear that they were looking for something a bit more full on, so sadly I didn’t win this time.

Writing erotic fiction may not be something to be embarrassed about. Finding yours isn’t sexy enough; well, that’s another thing. Which brings me neatly to Fifty Shades of Grey, the film of which has just been released. I haven’t read the book. Well, I did have a look on Amazon and use the ‘read inside…’ function, which shows you the first few pages. Just to see if it was as bad as had been said. I’m not going to provide a critique here. I will liken it to diving into a frozen lake. I found myself bouncing off the surface. I think it was a self-defence mechanism. Let’s just say I didn’t find it inspiring. I don’t remember reading anything that was at all sexual, but as I said, my mind did sort of shut itself down in a desperate attempt at self-protection.

The film is directed by Sam Taylor-Johnson, an artist known for making a photograph of herself suspended in mid-air with no visible means of support. I can’t help thinking that will be useful experience for the next few weeks. I’m not sure what’s happening with her name. She used to be Sam Taylor-Wood. Presumably she’s got a new husband and decided to swap the Wood for a Johnson. Perhaps she could have kept all three and been Sam Taylor-Wood-Johnson. Although that does sound a bit like a firm of solicitors.

It’s a bold move though, for such an inexperienced director to take on this kind of project. It could make her name (although she seems to be quite capable of making her own names). Or it could become a white albatross hanging round her neck in the corner of the room, with no-one talking to it. I read (well, skimmed actually) an interview in which she was careful to say that what she’s made isn’t a porn film; isn’t a film about sex at all really, which is odd considering that’s what Fifty Shades of Grey is supposed to be about – sex. She’s made something more subtle and altogether more clever than that. So, nothing to do with the film not getting past the censor if she’d kept the sex in then? The really brave thing to do would have been to put the sex in and accept that the film would be banned. But then, they wouldn’t have made much money. And as someone who wrote an erotic story that wasn’t sexy enough, I’m probably not the one to make the point anyway. I was going to put in a link to a download of my erotic story, but I’ve come over all shy all of a sudden Maybe another time. Perhaps I’ll sex it up a bit first.

You probably won’t hear from me again until there’s another popular phenomenon that I can shamelessly use as a tool for self promotion. For now, I’m off to write a bodice ripper with an Australian slant (a ripper bodice ripper) for next year’s competition…


About literarylad

Graham Wright is a freelance writer and author. His first novel, Single Point Perspective, is set in and around the city of Manchester, where he lived and worked for more than fifteen years. His second, Moojara, is set in and around the world, but mostly centres on Perth, Western Australia. Both are works of dramatic literary fiction - imaginative, serious and thoughtful, but with a sense of humour. Graham is currently living in north Shropshire, where he is busy working on novel number three.
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