Happy Presidents Day!
Warning: I'm about to talk about something you have a strong opinion in – Donald Trump.
Trump becoming President has split American Opinion into three camps:
You see, it comes down to what is "fashionable" to say about the election. If you hate Trump, then it is easy to say so on social media, because you will get a boatload of likes and like-minded comments.
If, however, you love Trump. You probably won't mention it on your social media, because doing so will get you unfollowed and unfriended. Or if it doesn't, it's because you've already narrowed your list to like-minded people and your post won't be broadcast beyond your circle anyway.
But what about those in the third camp?
Expressing My Opinion
That opinion (and yes, I really feel that way) is safe to post. Those who hate Trump will Like, Love, and Retweet, and those who love Trump will silently shake their heads at another "misguided Trump hater." And that's the problem. Because I don't hate Trump.
But even admitting that I don't hate him, pushes me into the camp of those who love him. And if I say anything positive about Trump, that seems to confirm it. It doesn't matter that I might think:
(Even pasting such opinions was enough to cause Weebly to stop working for a while!)
And once I'm put into one of the two camps, ANYTHING I say suddenly pigeonholes me further - even if my comments could go either way, like
"I am amused by how the media is treating Trump,
Now, I know what you're thinking (well, actually I don't, but you should be thinking), What does this have to do with Writing Picture Books?
Unfashionable Picture Book Messages
Just like politics on social media, some opinions are unfashionable to infuse into picture books. For example,
What makes a family?
The fashionable (and marketable) opinion is that a family can be any people, glued together by love. And it is true that a loving, conducive environment can be created by just about any combination of people.
If you venture into the idea that the ideal situation is still a man and a woman with children, it immediately pigeonholes you into a LGBT hater. Even if you acknowledge that there are dysfunctional situations where a man and a woman have children in the real world.
Mentioning God or having a Christian character pray in a picture book can immediately limit that book to Christian-based publishers – no matter how marketable the story or amazing the writing is otherwise. On the other hand, infuse into your story the belief that God used science – and maybe even evolution – to create this earth, and you've narrowed your publishing possibilities even further.
These are just two examples of underlying opinions that are risky to include in your picture book, because doing so often lowers the marketability of your book.
There is nothing wrong with writing a story that sends an unfashionable message. But if you do, then you must be extra vigilant about your target audience. Such a book probably will not be picked up by mainstream publishers, and you've got to be OK with that. Instead, you must write the story YOU need to tell.
Even unfashionable messages need a voice.
So, back to Trump. (I know, I know. You wish I wouldn't)
What to do, those who neither hate nor love the current President of United States?
Biding Our Time
Some notice, and they think, but try to avoid making political statements about him at all. Others, smart ones, are gathering intel, because someday there will about a movie/documentary/book/picture book about Trump (probably several). And those who are neutral in this moment will tell the most objective story later –
when it's fashionable.
P.S. I have no plans to write a picture book about Trump, families, or God as a scientist. These topics are better left to other authors.
Have you ever written an 'unfashionable story'? Let me know in the Comments!!
I write about, with, for, and around kids all day. (Well, maybe I do the dishes too. Sometimes.)