My Toughest Writing Project Yet…

I didn’t know that it would be my toughest writing project yet.

But you should know that I welcome growth. I welcome feeling uncomfortable, and in the last six months, have learnt that sometimes that discomfort comes with pain. Sometimes I choose experiences that help me grow, sometimes I’m thrust into it. This experience, I think, was a little bit of both.

I started this year wanting to challenge myself as an author.

I’d written three books for Harlequin at the stage, and they had come fairly easily. (Though not all for the same reasons.) I wanted to grow – to become better – and I knew this meant writing something that wasn’t easy. So, I thought about it, and came up with a list of things I’ve wanted to do, but have shied away from in the past:

  1. I wanted to write a series. So that I could learn how to write related stories – how to link settings, characters, and events over a series of books.
  2. I wanted to write a royal romance. There’s no royalty in South Africa.  So, my knowledge of royal customs up to this point had been limited to my binge sessions of The Crown and Reign.
  3. I wanted to write a royal romance with mixed-race characters. I’d never read one before (please recommend them in the comments if you have!), and it was important to me to write something I, as a mixed-race person, would have loved to read. I specifically wanted to have a powerful, mixed-race Queen. (The reasons for that will probably be in a future post.)

I also wanted to set it in or around South Africa. I haven’t shied away from this previously, which is why it doesn’t form a part of the list. But it was (and always will be, I think) incredibly important for me to expose my readers to my country.

With all this in mind, I pitched an idea to my editor.

Now, you’re probably thinking that because I’d shied away from these things in the past, I should have known it was going to be tough. And I did. I just didn’t know the extent of the toughness. But like always, I did my research first. I looked into how to write a series, how to write a royal romance, and planned them using the tropes the Harlequin Romance editors had asked us to consider in future projects.

Though it was hard work, I genuinely enjoyed the process. It was a creative challenge, but was so rewarding. I was getting to write every thing on my ‘terrifies me’ list! And it was euphoric. I sent the first book to my editor, and waited with bated breath for her to share my enthusiasm…

And was sharply brought back to reality.

Looking back, I realise how true this description really is. I’d allowed myself to be sucked into the excitement of the project and hadn’t spent much time thinking about it realistically. Possibly because as someone who suffers from anxiety and insecurities, feeling confident about a project was rare. So, when my revisions were essentially a rewrite, it devastated a part of me.

But I struggled through it, and Wednesday, said goodbye to the toughest project I’d ever worked on so far.

I’d survived the disappointment. The trilogy that had become a duet. And writing both books in six weeks. I’d written the royal romance with mixed-race characters. I had my mixed-race Queen. The duet is a series set on islands along the coast of South Africa.

I’ve learnt to talk myself through my writing insecurities. To trust my writing instincts. I’ve realised those instincts are reflective of where I am in my writing journey, which will change with each book. I promised myself I would be to be kinder to myself. And vowed to keep learning, to keep growing.

My toughest writing project yet? It was also my most rewarding.

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2 thoughts on “My Toughest Writing Project Yet…

  1. I know that feeling of getting a rewrite back… it stings! I think I’ve said this before, but romance writing is the hardest writing I’ve ever done! (And I wrote in other genres under other names before coming to Harlequin.) People seem to think that romance writing must be easy to write, but it isn’t! To write a convincing romance, follow all the rules we need to follow, AND have something to say that hasn’t been said before? That’s hard! The writing I’m most proud of is my romance writing.

    Congratulations on finishing this round of edits. You deserve a little celebration! 🙂

    • ThereseBeharrie says:

      Thanks, Patricia! Rewrites are the worst! But they do make the book better…which, of course, you only see when you’re on the other side 🙂 I think romance is tough, but also so rewarding, so I wouldn’t change a thing! And I took a day and spent it reading, and now it’s back to work. I hope the writing is going well on your side! xx

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