Scene: a supermarket.
Gal behind me at the checkstand: “You’re a writer — have you read that book everybody’s reading? 50 Shades of Grey?”
Me: “No. But I grabbed a friend’s Kindle from her hands and got a look at it. Christian Grey was giving the girl a priceless old copy of Tess of the D’Urbervilles. And rides in his helicopter.”
I wondered if I should clarify to this gal that my friend is an editor who bought the book for research purposes, because she needs to be culturally current. I decided that sounded ludicrous, though it’s true.
Me: “Have you read it?”
Gal: “I’m almost done. It’s not well written but it’s lighthearted fun. But I do keep wondering… is it really possible for people to have so much sex?”
Me: “My friend said that toward the end of the book her main thought was… ‘Not the riding crop again.'”
Gal: “That book’s going to affect everything about how you work from now on. How is your writing going to adjust?”
Me (suddenly feeling faint): “I don’t know, but I can promise you it won’t involve riding crops.”
At which point I ran out of the supermarket and didn’t look back.
Only when I got home did I realize: too late. I’ve already written a scene that involves not just a riding crop but a helicopter and a priceless old piece of memorabilia. It’s chapter one of The Dirty Secrets Club.