It’s almost been two years since I got my contract with Harlequin Romance. And in those two years, I’ve learnt a lot. (Most of which I share with you, by the way!) But perhaps the most important thing I’ve learnt is that I should be writing with intention. Here’s why I say so.
My first book was a kind of experiment.
The Tycoon’s Reluctant Cinderella was my I can do this book. I’d had a rejection before, and I didn’t want it to define my writing. In fact, I very deliberately chose to learn from that rejection, which is why I think I sold that book. Though I didn’t know it then, my intention for that book was to prove that I could do it. Simple; effective.
But it was only with my second book that I began to acknowledge that there was something like intention.
The first step toward that realisation was needing an outlet for the heartbreak I’d seen members of my family go through. I wrote A Marriage Worth Saving out of compulsion, and had to rewrite a lot of the book to make it hopeful. The next step was listening to the part inside of me saying I needed to write mixed-race characters.
And so writing with intention started to make itself known.
Around that same time, I happened to come across an Oprah video where she encouraged her viewers to act with intention. And that was how I found a word to describe what I wanted to do in my writing. Finally, I was able to explain what was already happening.
It was strange at first to think that I was doing something that by definition is conscious, subconsciously. And perhaps that’s why before I knew about intention, my books weren’t firmly founded in what I believed in. But the moment I realised I wanted my books to have purpose – that I wanted to be writing with intention – that shifted. It gave me my royal duet. It gave me books about mental health. And it allowed me to write about things and people I would have loved to read growing up.
The romance industry is changing.
More and more I see people craving books written with intention. More and more I see readers rebelling against a cavalier attitude toward the content in their books. As authors, we should be listening to our readers. And whether that means creating content that represents people who haven’t been represented before, or telling stories we wish we could read, as long as we’re writing with intention, we’ll be giving our readers what they want. And in many cases, what they need.