Cara/Andrea here, musing today on evolution. Creative evolution, not biological evolution (though I suppose biology does indeed have something to do with the way we think.) It seems only fitting as yesterday was the first day of spring, a season that offers colorful reminders of how life as a whole is in a constant state of change.
Now, what got me to thinking about how ideas change and evolve is the recent project I’ve been working on—preparing my old Andrea Pickens out-of-print Regencies for reissue as e-books. I decided to read through them to correct some of the dumb errors I made as a newbie author—I’m ashamed to say that it took me a while to grasp the nuances of British titles, plus I somehow got the date of the Peninsular War mucked up. However, other than that, I decided not to alter the original text. Not, mind you, because it was perfect prose. On the contrary—my pen was itching to rewrite a number of scenes, but I restrained the urge.
Despite all the faults—and there were many—there was a certain style and exuberance in them that I didn’t want to alter. They were my first books, and I see that glorious excitement at creating characters and conflict. My writing style has certainly evolved since those early days, but it’s fascinating to see the similarities too. From the start, I liked creating outsiders, people who are dance to their own drummer.. Still do. I have fun exploring the nuances of individuals who don’t quite fit in to Society’s expectations. And while I like to think that my heroes and heroines have evolved, that they have gotten even more complex and interesting as I’ve gotten older and hopefully wiser, it is really interesting to see the essence of who they are—and who I am as a writer—is reflected in those first works.
What are those qualities? A heroine who summons up the courage to be true to herself despite the fact that Society does not approve of her passions. And a hero is trying to come to grips with his own flaws, and is struggling to be a better man. (Right now I have six of my traditional Regencies available as e-books, with three more to come in the next few weeks. If you are interested, you can go to my Andrea Pickens website to read excerpts.)
My thoughts about creative evolution were also sparked by another project I’m just beginning to work on. It’s something totally out of the box for me, and at this point I have no idea if it will progress past the present stage of randomly scribbled notes and memories. In any case, it had me digging through trunks and boxes of personal stuff from the past.
Among the things I pulled out were some class notebooks from my freshman year at college. It was fascinating to read through records of the lectures for History 59—Main Currents of European Thought. What seemed important to me, what I chose to emphasis, how I distilled concepts—the pages say just as much about my intellectual evolution as they do about Aquinas and Newton. Like my own storybook characters, my real life self is developing there on the page as the year goes on.
I also started sorting through some of my mother’s artwork. She was an immensely talented person, who was drawn to experimenting in a great many mediums. She loved watercolor paintings and did some really beautiful paintings of birds and flowers. But then her interest turned more to photography as she wanted to view the same subjects from a different perspective. Creative evolution.
It seems to me that all of us who are involved in any endeavor that calls for imagination and creativity are constantly evolving how we implement those ideas that are in our heads. “What if I tried it this way . . .” . . . “What if I added that . . .” Our minds are constantly questioning, our viewpoint is constantly changing. (To keep repeating the same old thing would be boring, right?” Exploration and inquisitiveness are part of the human spirit. So no matter the rough edges and glaring faults, my early endeavors made me sit back and smile.
What about you? Do you have a hobby or passion, and have you ever found a past project that made you laugh—or cringe? Are you like me and find it interesting to muse on how your personal perspective changes over the years, and to reflect on how you have “grown?” Or do you just like to live in the present?