Wednesday, September 21, 2016

High Hopes

by Daddy X

When I first stared writing erotica, I was desperate for someone to read my work. Momma X (greatest editor on earth) isn’t interested in erotica. And friends? They’ll say either what you want to hear, because they don’t want to hurt you, or, they never speak to you again. :>)  

I’m sure there’ve been such times, frustrating for everyone, times before getting to know and appreciate the supportive folks in this erotica-writing community.

After an introduction by a mutual friend (call her Elaine) I approached a local mainstream author with professional editing skills. She was between projects, and though never having considered writing or editing erotica, she agreed to have a go. I sent a check as a retainer.

The following (except my comments within parens) is her report, word for word:

9 June 2011

Dear (Daddy)

As you see, I’m returning your check


(See notation on check)

Let me explain a bit. I read the stories in the order in which you described them, began making notes about such matters as run on sentences and phrases, and in the particular problems as I saw them with each one, as in The Gift when it was difficult to know the age of the first person narrator. A man of, say, 75, fanaticizing like that about a teenager has a creep factor beyond dirty old man. Good closing scene of the girl’s lover recognizing your (sic) lust, and showing her dominance, I wrote, then went on to Stairmaster, (avail. The Gonzo Collection) noting some funny lines, eg, “The ladies frequenting the apparatus right in front of me are quite concerned with their posteriors. So am I.”

(Stick with it. This builds)

Puzzlement got the best of me in “Case Closed” about the trio in the car, and “Tenters” (First ever submission, Naughty Nights Press. First acceptance. Batting 1000 for a while. Yay! Now avail. Brand X) when I didn’t know if the reader is supposed to think the man’s wife is in bed alone or not. I thought she was. There is a good description of the girl with “bright rosy cheeks and dimples of the Anglo Celts over fine and fair Norse skin, accentuated with the full black tresses, dark features, and even darker passions fathered by Roman seminal overflows from occupied England.” But I was confused by the back-and-forth narrative. In retrospect, I appreciated that at least in this story, everyone was willing.

As for “Phyllis Diddle”, I didn’t know if the language was mock-offensive or real offensive.

Finally I read, skimming some passages, “Suasion” and “A Woman In My Position”. (Gonzo Collection; previously, ERWA Gallery and Treasure Chest) I found the depictions of the humiliated women, written in the first person, so excruciatingly offensive and pathetic, that I realized whatever I might have to say about scenes, voice, and more—basic editing advice—would be impossible for me to give.  I could not overcome my discomfort at their appalling self-hatred and wretched lives. Some may consider there to be philosophical elements, but to me everything was obscured by sado-machochism. (sic)

So, rather than spend more hours trying to put together helpful suggestions for the collection as a whole, I am bowing out, gratis. I know Elaine considers you a friend and fine person, and that made me decide to agree to read the stories. By the end, though, I had to recognize that whatever your work needs, I am not the right editor for it.

(Name deleted to protect the innocent.)


Me again.

That obviously didn’t deter me. I figured if she came on that strong, the work must be effective on some level.

At that point, I took some workshops with Susie Bright, who was apparently impressed with my stuff and referred me to the Erotica Readers and Writers Association. The kind folks at ERWA and editor Lisabet Sarai helped turn these stories into quality products.

I haven’t asked ‘Elaine’ if the woman ever mentioned anything.

Brand X
Or, hit the cover at your right.


  1. Hi, Daddy,

    Actually, that seems to me to be a rather thoughtful and conscientious letter. She was trying to take an objective look at your work. She failed, and recognized that fact.

    Hey, she returned your check. This woman has a sense of decency that Suz's people certainly lacked!

    It's difficult to receive negative feedback about one's babies. But I wouldn't call this woman a detractor. She just wasn't the right person to edit your work.

    (And yeah, your work is out there, even by erotica standards. Be proud!)

  2. I discovered, when I was reviewing for Erotica Revealed, how difficult it is to judge work from the perspective of its intended readership when you do not share that perspective. I think I managed it most of the time, but I can understand how some people couldn't hack it.

    This particular incident of yours is a good illustration of the value of having strangers (with good credentials) edit your work, or attempt to, rather than having friends do it. With strangers, you don't have to worry about embarrassment when you meet them next. On the other hand, your friends are more likely to "get" what you're writing. I must say that I'm puzzled by her confusion about "Tenting," which seemed perfectly clear to me.

  3. Yes, I didn't get good treatment from Erotica Revealed. I don't think the reviewer read the book. But your admonition to have objective eyes on our work is essential.

  4. I agree with Lisabet. It's not a total rip and she allows you a few bouquets along to the point where she finally says, "I'm outta here!" But the check torn up into tiny pieces indicates an emotional, if not irrational, response. Like when someone empties an entire clip into a victim when just one bullet will do, they know it's a crime of passion. Aside from that, she can't spell to save her life, can she? Fanaticizing? Was she aiming at fantasizing? Anyway, you got the last word, Daddy.

  5. This is actually a reason I don't freelance edit for aspiring writers. I read a lot of erotica, but a lot of erotica bothers me. I like being able to keep my feelings to myself, and I know I wouldn't be able to if certain sorts of things came across my transom.

    I respect you for sticking with the work and believing in your voice. I respect the editor for knowing when to bow out. Seems like you ended up with a much better outcome than if she'd tried to stick it out.

  6. As a member of EPIC, I judge in the book contest every year, a well as in the New Voices contest for teen writers. I've read lots of books that I didn't particularly like, but I tried to be objective about it, looking for whatever quality there is that led the author to think it was worthy of being a winner.

    It's a difficult thing to do, to distance yourself from your own tastes. You're actually lucky that the woman did that, rather than try to edit you, and force you to make changes that you would have refused to do anyway.

    I can just imagine her wondering what on earth kind of relationship you and your wife have! Some people just can't accept that erotic authors might be creating total fiction. No one has that problem with Stephen King, or other writers of murder mysteries. Somehow the Puritan streak that still runs strong in this country doesn't allow erotic authors to be treated like normal human beings. Sigh...


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