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.
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.
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.
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