My left arm for a time before 45 when I could get on Twitter or write a blog post for BBS and talk about books. Yes, that 45 – our current President. He’s changed everything, right down to how I function as an author. Anyone else with me?
I hope so. Because some days I feel quite lonely thinking I’m by myself worrying how my writing could or should be impacted by the world swirling around me. And swirling it is.
My Twitter feed used to be packed with news of my author friends book releases, events, writing advice, and the typical requisite cyber hugs for someone having an off-writing day. Now? Well, now I have to carefully pick and choose when I go on Twitter because it makes me ranty. And not the productive type of ranting either.
But last I looked, I was still a writer. At least that’s what the folks at Greenwillow think, because they just contracted me for two middle grade books.
Some years ago that would have scared me for the usual reasons being contracted to deliver “the words” would – can I do it? Will I meet my deadline? How long can my family go without food while I focus on these books for awhile? Now, it frightens me for totally different reasons – primarily, do my books matter at a time when the world seems like it’s on fire?
How on earth can we expect kids to read when we need to prepare them for the apocalypse that is the current administration? One that has made permanent sound bites of things like “alternative facts” and “don’t take the tweet literally.” It’s a world where the Chief Executive of the United States calls anyone who disagrees with him a liar, while constantly spewing lies himself. If I’m writing, shouldn’t I be trying to find a way to cover the current world to help young readers navigate it?
Those are the thoughts that creep into my mind, sometimes. Then I remember that the whole point of literature is escape. And not just for the reader.
I know there will be more authors like Angie Thomas, who take the frustration of the world out on the words and come up with masterful stories. And I look forward to seeing more YA like THUG and even MG that finds ways to help young readers see the current world through their lens. It’s what kid lit is about.
Meanwhile, I’m going to stay in my lane. Partly because I’m still trying to figure out how to digest where we are. But also, because, when I allow myself to go into my bubble, I see so many stories that still need to be told to young readers beyond what’s happening at 1600 Pennsylvania.
For some of us, the world is truly on fire. From healthcare to human rights we’re being threatened to fall in line with an ideology, that supposedly defines us all as Americans, or else. But that can’t stop us from fighting to ensure kids of color see themselves represented in literature.
Some of those stories will most definitely be about the fragile relationship between law enforcement and Black communities; crooked and uncaring politicians; or a bogeyman running the nation. And some of them will be about friendships and how they shape us into young adults; growing into our ambition, or falling in love for the first time. No single story is more important than the other.
Once I take a few deep breaths, I realize that some elements of my stories may change to include little pieces of today’s world but ultimately who I am as a writer hasn’t changed nor will it.
I’m renewed in that thought and look forward to diving head first back into the writing and library communities where raging against the machine is done one page at a time.