Tuesday, 9 October 2012

The Conundrum of Experience vs Quality

My vacation time started two weeks ago today. I've been saving them up for a while (since last year, at least) and I finally decided now is the time to take a month-long break and just do what I want to do, which is finish two novels before the year is up. I decided not to go partying or take a trip to some exotic locale but spend time in the country with my grandparents. They have this really old home in the hills where you can see the ocean and the distant islands from the bedroom window. It's a scenic place that invokes a sort of grim awe when you stay there. And by grim awe I mean you feel as though this is what eternity would be like if you died and didn't go to Heaven or Hell. Anyway, I didn't bring my laptop or any sort of device with an internet connection because I wanted to just let live, ya know? Plus, I've found it rather endearing writing longhand. Well, today I went to the "village" (which is basically a residential community with a supermarket, a pub and a gas station) to pick up some macaroni and potatoes for dinner and I happened upon an internet cafe. It occured to me I hadn't blogged in a while and left without any notice so I simply had to write something--it would've been terribly rude if I hadn't.    

I've had a lot of time to think lately and I came up with a theory on an everyday brain twister. In economics we are taught that the buying public's spending habits are driven by wants rather than needs, but beyond this, we have ascertained that they are far less complicated than most would beleive. In fact, they are quite simple spenders (hence why I call them sheep.) So when a group of folks I work with were trying to figure out why the poorly written Fifty Shades of Grey is so popular, it got me thinking... Why, indeed, is it so popular? Well, I'm sure there are many reasons for this conundrum but I have come to the conclusion that people are willing to forfeit, and unequivocally so, quality for an experience.

Think about it: there's a new roller coaster that just opened, it's been dubbed the fastest and highest ever created; there are saftey concerns that could put some at risk--it's not the safest or the most stable--but by golly it's the frickin' FASTEST and HIGHEST! How many people you think will ignore the risks (the ride's quality) and try it anyway? A lot, right? And that's just the thing... people don't really care about quality all that much (with certain things). They like it hard, they like it fast, they like it to take /do/shove them to places they've never been.

That is the biggest reason for Fifty Shades of Grey's success. You can argue it's the affiliation with Twilight, the word of mouth marketing, the characters, the sex, the pure and utter kinky disarray but if the book itself can't capture the reader's fancy, regardless, then it will fail. MISERABLY. When all is said and done, it doesn't matter how badly written something is, for it to truly be a good work it needs to offer the readers a mind blowing experience like no other.     

At least that's what I think. Feel free to dismiss it entirely. ^_^

See you soon. 

9 comments:

Kyra Lennon said...

My mummy told me if I don't have anything nice to say, I shouldn't say anything - and I don't really have anything nice to say about Fifty Shades except that E.L James has done a remarkable job turning fanfic into something HUGE. :)

I hope you enjoy your vacation and get loads of work done - you know I am bouncing around in anticipation of reading your novel!!

Vicki Rocho said...

Haven't read 50 Shades so can't really comment except that there's a history of poorly written books that hit it big.

I like writing longhand whenever I get stuck. It taps into a different spot and almost always gets me over the trouble spot.

Enjoy your time off!

Elise Fallson said...

Enjoy your vacation! Hope you get in lots of good quality writing done. And I think 50 shades has a lot to do with marketing. Once you get the ball rolling, sheep will follow it even if it's going off a cliff.

ryan field said...

I hate to comment on 50 Shades because I liked it. And she's not an inexperienced writer. She's been around for a long time. I'm not fond of the way she writes, but I did like the book and the story. It's also important to take into consideration that not all books published have the same literary quality. In various genres things that wouldn't work in literary books are forgiven, and readers don't even know this. The most important part for them is the story.

It's also nothing new. 50 Shades could be compared to The Bridges of Madison County, or any big book that took off when no one expected it to. Fanfic has been a growing genre for many, many years. I don't know much about it and I've never followed it, but I've heard more than once that Brokeback Mountain fanfic triggered the m/m romance genre. As I said, I'm not sure about this. But I don't think it's a matter of quality or experience. I think it's a matter of reader personal taste combined with changes in the way people read books now...in digital format, not print. There are some very good fanfic authors and they have a devoted following of readers. And any writer who can get people to read is important.

It's also important to mention that these fanfic authors are doing it because they love doing it. Most don't expect to make a lot of money or to be the next E.L. James. They simply want to write.

As a side note, I think the sex scenes in 50 Shades were tame. Of course they've been magnified by the media because that's what the media does. They put a spin on things without going into detail. I also think the book picks up on a topic (BDSM) most people are curious about, are probably doing already behind closed doors, and like reading about. Erotica of any kind is discreet and personal, and digital readers now have discreet devices on which they can read erotica without being judged. But we only hear about 50 Shades, not the thousands of erotic romances being sold daily as e-books by small e-presses and self-published authors. In fact, you won't hear about it because they don't want you to know about it.

Glad you got some time off without computers. I need to do this myself :)

Michael Offutt, Tebow Cult Initiate said...

I really don't like the phrase "Wants vs. Needs". Truthfully, science will tell you that all you need to survive is pretty basic.

The thing that makes "desire" so important to life is quality. Mitt Romney said it best when he stated at the Republican National Convention, "I thought that becoming rich and famous would make me happy. And it ABSOLUTELY did that."

So I'm a big advocate of desire and having those desires fulfilled in order to provide meaning to my life. I'm an atheist, so there is no heaven or hell. There's just this one moment on Earth that I have, and it really could end at any moment. So I want it to be filled with quality times.

jaybird said...

I hope you enjoy your vacation, and get lots of quality writing time in.

As far as the 50 Shades debate, I'm not going to hate on her for what she wrote, (because I don't like to do that) but no matter what you think about it, for some reason, her book rose to the top. It reached way beyond many other well-written and much more profound works. Who knows what the public is going to snatch up and latch onto?

Sabrina A. Fish said...

And this is why sheep are food...I have to give the author kudos, never mind the writing.

Happy writing! I am sure you'll come away form your vacation with fabulous work and I cannot wait to read it when it's published.

DEZMOND said...

'tis true, TD, sad, but true.
People prefer trashy but spicy or controversial over quality :(

Tammy Theriault said...

i haven't read the book yet, but it seems when something over the top is out there, people eat it up out of curiousity... new follower, hi!

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