Thursday, May 1, 2014

The Moment I Quit Writing Forever

by Giselle Renarde


I started writing erotica on a dare. That was in 2006.  I'd been downsized from my job in the business world, so I told myself this: I would send out three submissions. If one of them was accepted for publication, I'd go at writing full-tilt. If none were accepted for publication, I'd pack it in.

(I'd just watched a documentary about Mavis Gallant, and apparently that's what she'd told herself when she moved to Paris to be a writer.)

So I sent out my three submissions. I'm trying to remember where... hmmm... One was an audiobook company in Australia. I don't think they exist anymore. The other two... might have been Ruthie's Club, might have been a Cleis anthology, might have been For the Girls or Three Pillows.  I'm trying to remember who was on the scene back then.

I don't remember who the rejections were from, but my one acceptance letter came courtesy of the Australian audiobook people. I found the piece recently. It's terrible. But that's beside the point.

I kept writing. I kept submitting my work. I wrote a novella called Ondine, which was passed over by... gosh, I don't even know. A lot of publishers. Who the hell wants a book about a bisexual ballerina?  I wrote short stories that were bought by Ruthie's Clue and Cleis anthologies and For the Girls and Hustler Fantasies and Oysters and Chocolate.

I'm queer.  I wrote about queer chicks. I figured readers would like what I liked.

Nope.

I started hearing that readers wanted MMF menage.  Okay, well... didn't appeal much to me, but whatevs.  I came close and wrote an MMFF menage story called The Birthday Gift.  It was snapped up by a new ebook publisher called Dark Eden Press.

Yaaay!

And then my edits came in.

When I read the editor's first comment, I could hear her sighing with exasperation all the way up in Alaska. "This manuscript requires a complete overhaul."  A million things were wrong with it. At the time, it seemed like EVERYTHING was wrong with it. The voice was too passive. That was the biggie.

In that moment, I vowed never to write anything ever again. I felt like my brain was being devoured by fire ants. My ego was damaged. I was so hurt. I was TOO hurt.  I would go through with the edits because I had a contract to fulfill, but after that? Never again.

It was hard work.  I learned a lot.  My editor sent me resources.  At the time, I didn't I didn't really know what POV was, let alone deep third and all that. I rewrote The Birthday Gift, and when my editor sent back the next draft it was every bit as marked up as the first.  At least I didn't have to re-write the whole thing again.

The Birthday Gift went through three solid rounds of edits before it went to the proofreader. By the time it got to market, I think I'd forgotten about quitting the profession. People actually bought it... and LIKED it. Wow.

So I didn't quit after all. That wasn't exactly a decision.  It just sort of happened. I kept writing. I didn't stop. Some days I think perhaps I should have, but other days I consider how fortunate I am to work from home doing something I enjoy.

By the way, I wrote another MMFF erotic romance much more recently. This one's a novel called Bali Nights, published by Xcite Books.  It's available for a really great price, so you should probably grab it. Click here for Bali Nights!

4 comments:

  1. Hi, Giselle,

    I for one am extremely glad you didn't quit! But I understand the frustration, having just done three rounds of revision to a novel that just didn't fit the imprint I'd targeted it for.

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  2. How we falter, halt progress, bang up against our foibles, but carry on. True, the really lucky get to make our way in something we love.

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  3. Having had both editors and writing school, I will vouch for editors every time. It's just wild how much an experience like that, hard as it is, will teach you.

    And Bali Nights looks cool! I just picked it up!

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  4. Giselle, I'm also glad you didn't stop writing! And BTW, I think the three-strikes-and-you're-out rule works better in baseball than for writers, even if it worked for you and Mavis Gallant. My experience when I started sending poems and stories out to editors was a lot of silence - days, weeks, months would pass, and finally I would realize that my submission had been rejected. I'm not sure if that's worse than getting a marked-up submission that made your brain feel as if it was eaten by fire ants. :(

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