Claire McEwen, hopeful romantic.

Learning to Rely on Others ~ An Author and Her Heroine Journey Together

This post originally appeared on the Harlequin Blog.

I’ve always been known for my independence. A typical introvert writer, I enjoy spending time on my own. I’ve travelled the world solo and lived alone many times. So when it came to writing my first book, I figured I’d be by myself, with just my computer and imagination for company.

With my loner nature, I suppose it’s not a surprise that Samantha, the heroine of my debut novel, A Ranch to Keep, is also accustomed to being self-reliant. Her tumultuous childhood taught her that she couldn’t trust others and had to take care of herself. When she inherits her grandmother’s ranch, she discovers the hard way that some difficulties can’t be overcome alone. Learning to allow Jack, her handsome and capable neighbor, to help her out sometimes is an enormous challenge for such an independent woman.

After a few days of writing A Ranch to Keep, it became clear to me that if I wanted to be a good writer, I couldn’t do it alone. First of all, there were the logistics of actually writing. I am a full-time mom and my husband works long days. To find enough writing time, I had to learn to ask for some help. Now my husband watches our son when his schedule allows, and I occasionally beg my in-laws for some babysitting when deadlines loom. Even my little son chips in by being patient and understanding that when Mama is writing, Daddy has to take over the nurturing role for a few hours!

Then there were the times I got stuck on the plot. So stuck that I turned to my husband for help and discovered his talent for getting my stories moving again. And I learned that my three enthusiastic sisters and their husbands like to help out as well. At family dinner parties the conversation often turned to my book. My family had all kinds of suggestions, some of which were downright crazy, but some that turned out to be really useful. I know my book is stronger overall because of their input.

In A Ranch to Keep, Samantha, has a very clear idea of what her life should be like. As she develops feelings for Jack, she has to consider that, because of him, maybe her ideas and plans are changing. And for me, learning to work with my wonderful editor, Karen Reid, required a similar regrouping. My rough draft had all kinds of subplots and detours that I loved, but Karen pointed out that they didn’t quite fit into my story. Trusting Karen’s expertise and letting go of parts of my original vision was challenging. But as soon as I followed her lead, my book improved enormously.

For many of us, learning to rely on others is a journey in itself. In writing A Ranch to Keep, I took that journey right alongside my heroine, and both of us ended up with a happy ending as a result. Has your life improved by learning to trust others? Would you be willing to share your journey with us?

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