This month, I am working on evaluating my short story collection Lucy & Calvin’s Adventures in World Domination: Series 1. I just finished rereading it, taking note of where I was awesome, where I was lazy, and where I didn’t make sense. I gotta say: overall, I’m pretty impressed with myself for writing this. There are some real moments of awesomeness. There are also, of course, some thorns in this story that need to be edited out. But here’s one thought I didn’t expect to have at this moment: Trump wrecked my story.
I did not expect to find this thorn in my story. The President of the United States makes a brief appearance in the finale of Lucy & Calvin Series 1. I wrote this scene in the summer of 2015; I drafted this fictional president before this last presidential campaign. The character of the president is only referred to as “the President.” You can picture Obama. You can picture Bush. You can picture the president from Independence Day. But if you picture Trump, the scene doesn’t work. The president I wrote is a skilled, confident, and nice guy. Trump is not.
For most of my life, I have lived in an America with certain expectations of presidential decorum. Trump has, of course, shattered these. This observation isn’t anything new, but this is the first time I have encountered “Trump fallout” so abruptly in my artistic life. If I leave the scene unchanged, it feels outdated. But the humor of the scene won’t work if I make my fictional president a capricious buffoon. And this is all complicated by the fact that Lucy & Calvin’s Adventures in World Domination is admittedly a somewhat political text, and referencing “the President” in anything published after Trump’s inauguration invokes symbolism that this story isn’t prepared to deal with.
So here we are: less than a month into Trump’s presidency, and already staring down the uniquely artistic challenges posed by his presence in the White House. While I am nauseous to imagine what the next four years will bring in terms of politics, I am energized to see what the next four years will bring in terms of artistic responses to politics.
P.S.: I’ve already edited away this thorn Trump has introduced, and I’m happy to say that I did so by adding another joke to my story, and without compromising my story’s thematic integrity. Admittedly, it was a small thorn, but I’m just surprised the election of a president could create a thorn in my story at all.
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