It's always interesting to look back from a new vantage point, and to trace our journey--whether it's life we are looking at, or our growth as writers. My journey is at present, twenty-seven years in the making, and in some ways, I am just getting started. I like to think I have improved along the way--there's no disputing that I've changed. Yet the interesting thing as far as I am concerned is how the changes in me--my values, views, and personality--have changed my characters and my writing in general.
Take Eben St. Claire, for instance. Eben was the male protagonist of Rough And Tender, and very acceptable for the time in which he appeared in print. I liked him. So acceptable that the book was awarded "Best First Western Historical" by Romantic Times Magazine. But time went on, and I improved as a writer, and changed as a person. I've never been one to read my own work after it's finished, and I was especially reticent to look back on that first effort--until January of 2012 when I decided to offer it for sale at Amazon.
Frugality being a necessity, I decided to retype the original text--an arduous task that has taken me a number of weeks, but a very good thing, because as I started to read, I started to gag. Eben, I soon discovered, was an arrogant, puffed-up boor, and a humorless bully, and the text and dialogue was stilted. In my defense, I will remind the reader that we were fresh out of the "Bodice-ripper" stage in publishing at the time this was written, and Eben was tame by those standards, and my ability and style damned good. Thankfully, times have changed mightily, society's values have evolved, and so have I.
In rewriting Rough And Tender (available this month from Amazon for Kindle) I was able to re-present Eben as a diamond in the rough. The bully is largely gone, and a clueless male has taken his place. Eben is an ass, and he knows it. What he hasn't a clue about is how to deal with Raven, a lover who is a great deal younger, and more tender than any he's had thus far. The end result--I hope--is a more acceptable version of the story that garnered a lot of praise back in the day.
Though he still can be quite the clueless ass, I find I like Eben more today than I did. He's a hard-nosed man, but he's human, something we can all relate to--except for my dogs, of course. They do tend to bark along as I laugh my ass off, but god knows what they're saying.