Or maybe Why a Romance Writer Would Make a Good President is a better title for this post. I started thinking about this because, at the moment, all the front runners in either party are white men in their 70s. That really doesn’t work for me. What would work? Definitely someone younger. Also someone who doesn’t have to ‘court’ the minority vote because they’re already in the minority, which, in my opinion, would make that someone in a better position to consider policy implications for ALL Americans, not just the ones that look like they do. I’m using Stacey Abrams, who has published romance novels with African-American characters under the pen name Selena Montgomery, as an example, but I think romance writers, in general, have the characteristics needed to be a great president.
Ms. Abrams, as an example, was the Democratic nominee for governor of Georgia in 2018 after serving 10 years in the Georgia House of Representatives, including 6 years as the Minority Leader. Unfortunately, she lost the governor’s race by a very narrow margin amid cries of voter suppression by her opponent (who happened to be Georgia’s Secretary of State and therefore oversaw the election and the purging of 670,000 voter registrations in 2017). She is also in the Harper Collins stable of romance writers, selling over 100,000 copies of her books, including Secrets and Lies, Hidden Sins, and Deception.
I’m not really campaigning for Stacey Abrams, but her credentials prove that a romance writer has what it takes. Doris Kearns Goodwin, a Pulitzer Prize winning historian has a list of essential traits a president needs (and romance writers have). Among them are:
- Empathy. As romance writers, we REQUIRE empathy to be able to understand and share the feelings of someone else. How else would be write about feelings?
- Resilience. We get rejections by publishing houses, agents, critics, etc, and keep writing.
- Courage. In the face of criticism and/or mocking (like this), we continue to write.
- Openness to diverse opinions. Well, the romance industry is struggling a little bit with this one, but not all writers are. A great presidential candidate who also happens to be a romance writer would have to be one of the open ones.
- Connect with all manner of people. I think romance novels have an increasingly diverse audience, although it has traditionally been heavily skewed towards women. One look at the explosion in sub-genres speaks to who is reading the stories.
- Clarity in communication. OBVIOUSLY.
- Keep one’s word. Deadlines. Author events. Book signings. You gotta show up.
As we are all writers, I’m sure we all have a list of characteristics that we think make a great writer. Just like with the list of presidential traits above, there will be differences in opinions and some additions/deletions among us, but here are some that I think are needed to be a great writer (and lend themselves to being a good president):
- Attention to detail. I’m sure there are a lot of details at that level of government.
- Excellent observational skills. A deep interest in the workings of other people’s minds, their tells under duress could be very useful in diplomatic situations or negotiations.
- Discipline. The ability to structure our writing lives to actually get stuff done would be applicable, but also the quality of being able to behave and work in a controlled way and obeying particular rules and standards would come in handy.
- Perseverance. Persistence despite difficulties would also come in handy.
- Clarity in communication. See above.
- Creativity. Finding new ways to address existing problems for which previous solutions haven’t worked.
- Strong vocabulary. All those speeches. Lots of words needed.
- Open to changes. See above.
- Passion for reading. Of course, as president, the reading would mostly be of the non-fiction variety.
- Thick skin and a supporting cast. It would be a thankless job with constant criticism that would also require being surrounded by the smartest people in a variety of fields.
What unique skill set does a romance writer have that would make a great president? One thing we do as romance writers is spend hours, days, weeks pondering how to solve head-to-head unsolvable conflict between two parties to their mutual satisfaction. Think goal-motivation-conflict over and over and over. We strive for the happy ending for the main characters. Occasionally we come up with creative ways to defeat evil.
Stacey Abrams decided to write romance because she didn’t see herself in anything she read. I think knowing this about herself, she’d be more empathetic to who is underrepresented in policy- and decision-making. And I really love to hear about romance writers with fabulous credentials: she has degrees from Spelman College, University of Texas at Austin, and a law degree from Yale. Not too shabby. Smart women writing great stories should rule the world.
Do you think a romance writer would make a good president?