First, I want to apologize for being absent last week. My computer crashed and was in the hospital for three days, then I was so overloaded with stuff I couldn’t get back to my blog till today. Hope this one makes up for. Will post the winners of the past two blogs separately.
Often someone asks me why I write Westerns. Funny they don’t ask why I write romances, but perhaps I look like the romantic type. From the time I knew the difference between boys and girls, men in tight jeans, a cowboy hat, boots and a gun strapped to their hip turned me on. Wait a minute. A GUN? Well, suffice it to say that he only used it when “someone needed killing.” In the vernacular of the western, that was anyone who bullied women, kids and small people. burned barns, shot up saloons, tried to take over small western towns. Well, I think you get the idea.
Actually, I made room in my admiration circle for men who drove pickups, wore the boots and hat and looked good walking away in their low-slung jeans. Oh, and men who wore leather jackets and rode motorcycles. Never cared for a man in a suit, but uniforms turned me on. Policemen, firemen, soldiers, sailors, marines. Dare I go on?
It’s becoming pretty obvious that I like cowboys. Why do you think the word cowboy is now used to describe anyone who goes off the trail and blazes new ground in some wild way? Or, “it’s about to get Western.” Wild, wooly, devil-may-care men who fight for justice no matter the consequences. Who wouldn’t want to write about such men?
In the days of my childhood, lo many years ago, kids played cowboys and Indians. I always liked to be an Indian cause my dad was mostly Cherokee and some Texan. He often talked about the Cherokee and how they’d fought the white man, then wised up and joined him to live like a Civilized Tribe. His stories influenced me into almost always including an American Indian plot or subplot in my stories.
But all this being said, I think the American West stands for the real America in its own way. Tough people fighting hard to get and keep land, to start businesses, to build towns. Tough lawmen fighting for justice, even when it wasn’t always lawful. Women gained the right to vote and run for office in Wyoming long before they did back East. Cultures like the Chinese and Black Americans helped build the great railroads that connected the West to the East. Sure, we have things to be ashamed of in the Westward movement, most of it politically motivated, and we can’t change that. We can only see that all people are portrayed in our stories as they were.
However, Stephen King wrote something that struck me: He said that writers who write history write fiction. And he’s probably right. We can never know exactly what it was like. Even those who kept journals had only one perspective, and everyone involved would have seen any occurrence in a different light.
There will always be room for stories with a Western theme, and only those on the East coast think the Western is dead. It’s alive and kicking from the Mississippi to the Pacific Ocean.
Please excuse my own politically correct labels. None of them are meant to be insulting.
keywords: western, Cherokee, western romance, cowboys