I wrote the first Ivy Russell novella, Cheaters and Chupacabras, back in the early 2010s. I self-published it and then ended up writing three sequels, The Timeless Man, The Odd Section of Town, and Firebugs and Other Insects. Instead of publishing those three individually, I just put all four Ivy Russell novellas together in a big omnibus and published them together. And like most of the things I write and then publish, I moved on to the next project and didn’t give it much more thought.
Until I did.
There’s a character in the novellas named Riley who’s a trans man. I tried to be as mindful as possible when writing this character, but as hard as I tried, some of the language and character bits just didn’t age well. They didn’t completely molder into unintentional transphobia, but they definitely wilted into failed ally intentions.
I’ve been debating for a while about whether or not to update those parts. Part of it is my own laziness, but the bigger part was the idea of leaving it as is as part of the bigger overarching display of how my writing in general has grown. That yes, even I make mistakes despite my good intentions of including the character.
In the end, my own discomfort with leaving it as it was knowing I could -and should- do better won out and I did some mild rewrites of those parts. To ensure that everything flowed together okay, I ended up rereading all four novellas in the course of a week.
Which challenged me in a different way. In addition to my laziness telling me it would be a lot of work to fix the Riley parts (it took less than an hour), I was worried that once I started looking, I’d be fixing all sorts of things. This wording, that little comma that no one else would notice, tweak that bit of description, etc. And though I did end up fixing some egregious mistakes that I missed during my initial proofing (it’s tough being a one-person show) and made another minor change to more accurately reflect the culture of a different character (a Hawaiian man nicknamed Sweet Pea), I left the rest of it alone, despite my overwhelming urge to fix it all.
Because even with the Riley issue (and to a smaller extent, the Sweet Pea issue) fixed, the novellas still illustrate how I’ve grown as a writer.
Even if some of that growth is kind of embarrassing and awkward and painful to read.