“There are some words a lady does not use.” That’s what my mom always told me. Another line I used to hear a lot of was, “You are too intelligent to use such language.” My mother, God rest her soul, would be appalled by the language I use today, but I think she would have gotten over it quickly.
In the fall of 2009 I wrote Divine Grace. It took 236,000 words for me to tell Grace’s story. After several rounds of edits we’d managed to knock that number down to around 200,000.
Of that grand word count total, I used “pussy” 211 times, “cock” 311 times. (It was a ménage, so the cock to pussy ratio is actually is a little lopsided if you ask me.) And I used “cunt” 30 times. Why the big difference, you ask?
In the originally submitted manuscript, cunt appeared exactly zero times. That was a conscious decision on my part. I grew up in a home where that word was used frequently as an insult. It made me shudder and I studiously avoided people who used it.
My heroine originally had a big problem with the word and so her men never used it. In every other way the story earned the hottest rating that Siren Publishing gives to a book. With the encouragement of my editors and publisher I stripped every trace of purple prose from that manuscript and went for the gold, so to speak. If I was going to write a story for women readers accustomed to seeing it in print, why would I shrink from using the word “cunt”?
I pondered the word “cunt” for a while afterward and obviously grew very comfortable using it in my writing. Why had I held out? The reason was obvious. Training by my mother to never use it and conditioning by the male relative in my life to believe it was fit only to be used as an insult.
If you’ve ever watched “Braveheart” you will undoubtedly remember the scene in which William Wallace’s Irish friend Stephen reports to him, in a nutshell, that the Irish will be helping them in the battle they are facing. Referring to Ireland, he proudly says, “It’s MY island!”
Well, I’ve taken that word back. Cunt is no longer a bad word in my world. It actually makes me quite a lot of money. In fact, “It’s MY word.” Many authors read their manuscripts aloud to catch errors and problems. I have found that to be a helpful tool. The word “cunt” flows from my fingertips with ease but thanks to my departed mother’s training, “cunt” never gets spoken above a whisper. I blame my mother for that. Some training just goes too deep.
This blog post first appeared on August 16, 2011. At the request of my street team, the Divine Divas, I’ll be sharing other looks back at my early blogging attempts. I hope you enjoyed it…and yes, I still have to whisper that word, just not quite as softly. 😀
Y’all have a great day!