Today in class, we talked a bit about how to write difficult subjects. My mind immediately turned to the one and only, Lurlene McDaniel. She is the queen of dealing with difficult subjects. Most of her books deal with teens who have a chronic illness of some kind, like cancer, diabetes, cystic fibrosis, ect… The one thing I love more than anything is that even though the teens are going through this stuff THEY ARE STILL TEENS! They worry about what they look like. They worry about school. They worry about relationships. They are still teenagers. They make mistakes that teens tend to make. They aren’t perfect just because they have this thing to deal with. Most people think that just because a kid has an illness means that they are mature beyond their years. McDaniel reminds us constantly that they are still kids and enjoy stuff that healthy kids their age enjoy!
Do not ever talk down to children. They can understand a lot more than you think. I’m not saying don’t explain stuff to them, but they aren’t babies, so don’t treat them that way. Another don’t is don’t try to hide the issue from them. Sheltering kids does nothing good. I promise. Don’t say “cancer is a bad disease that only adults need to worry about” because what about the kids who are three years old and on chemo? Explain to the child what cancer is and answer their questions. If you are writing for children and you want to write about a difficult subject, do it. It’s not done enough, especially for little kids. They may be the ones who need it the most, too.
Writing hard subjects is difficult to do for adult books let alone children’s books. But it needs to be done. So my advice is do it.
This is my final blog post that’s required for my class. I may think of keeping this blog up. I might not. I’m really bad at not posting when I should. Either way, I leave you with these words.
“Make good art!” -Neil Gaiman