Writing in the Age of Trump
Weeks before the election, my eye was twitching so badly that my ophthalmologist diagnosed me with a severe case of “Trump Eye.”
“Don’t worry,” he said, patting me on the shoulder. “It’ll resolve itself by mid-November.”
What happened to the America I knew? After the election I felt like I had been transported into a fictional world. The people had elected Voldemort. Voldemort!
And I had thought that the virulent racism against the Mudbloods was fictional; I believed that the Ministry of Magic could never be infiltrated; and I trusted that there were enough wizards of conscience to check He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named. Wrong, wrong, and wrong.
Writing during the reign of Donald J. Voldemort has been tough. With the dementors unleashed upon the world, it has been difficult to concentrate on fiction. How many times a day did I check the Daily Prophet to see what his Death Eaters were plotting?
And how with all that was happening could I create a safe space to write?
Besides good writing was no longer good enough. It wasn’t enough to entertain. I had to write something meaningful, something enduring, something to counteract the contagion of the times.
Writing had always been difficult, but under this additional weight, it was unbearable. Who could believe that my twelve-year-old protagonist would defeat the bully and end injustice? Who could honestly believe in 2017 that good triumphs over evil?
Deadlines passed. What did it matter if my manuscript came in late? Dumbledore was dead, and Voldemort was on the march. What could I write to stop him?
It has taken me a long time. But now, despite the pressure to be great, I have come to realize that I need to write what matters for me. Middle grade novels about standing up for yourself, of asserting your authority and for doing what’s right. Yes, sometimes the bully wins. The hero is left alone, isolated, defeated—-but wasn’t that always my truth?
So everyday when I sit down to write, I imagine myself, wand in hand, locked in that eternal struggle against the forces of darkness. Fiction has always been my way of understanding the world. And if a child can stand against the Dark Lord, so can I.