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.


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.

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!


  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.

  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.

  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!

  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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