Writing and publishing are slow. From the time I start writing a book to the time it’s available in bookstores and libraries, it’s usually about three or four years, sometimes longer. This means authors can’t really follow trends when they write, because who knows what will be popular by the time their book is ready for readers? A book could be outdated by the time it’s published—or, in my case, it’s possible to hit upon a future trend without trying. That trend? Being green.
I wrote my first book, Standing for Socks, in 2004 and 2005, when I was a senior in college. The story revolved around Fara Ross, a funky tween determined to make a difference. Her mismatched socks make her famous, but her freedom-of-footwear campaign—which starts in an effort to save water—is meant to drive her bigger mission and unique passion: Protecting the earth. That’s right; when I wrote Standing for Socks, being passionate about the environment was considered quirky and unusual!
Looking back, it’s hard to believe that only fourteen years ago, being green was not yet a thing. I’m sure there were people who were thinking critically about our environment and striving to protect it, but it wasn’t nearly as commonplace as it is now. If anyone carried reusable shopping bags, I didn’t see them. Hybrid cars were new and rare. I remember laughing with confusion when I learned that my graduation speaker would be Al Gore. (Really? The former vice president who lost the election a few years ago?) My friends and I were even more surprised when he used the stage to talk about global warming. It wasn’t until a year later, when his documentary An Inconvenient Truth came out, that Al Gore would become known for environmentalism, his message would hit the mainstream, and people—including myself—would begin to think more consciously about how our everyday decisions affect this planet we all share.
Remember how long it takes to publish a book, and how quickly things can change? By the time Standing for Socks came out in 2009, being green was no longer quirky and unusual; it was cool! In fact, eco-consciousness was so popular that numerous reviewers assumed I was merely jumping on the conservation bandwagon, trying to cash in on a current trend. I’d probably be much richer today if I’d lucked into a different trend, like gorgeous vampires or cartoon wimpy kids, but that’s okay. We’re all reaping much bigger benefits from the trend I unknowingly foretold. Fara would be stoked to know that people are thinking proactively about protecting our planet, its resources, and all of its inhabitants. She’d be right at home among the thoughtful, caring, inspired kids I meet each year on my Authors for Earth Day school visit. She’d gladly give up her “quirky” label to know that the things she stands for are now the norm. It’s great to be unique, but when it comes to conservation, we’re all in it together, so the more people on board, the better off we’ll all be.
I’m encouraged by how far we’ve come since I first started writing Standing for Socks, but we still have lots of work to do. Let’s work together to stand up for planet Earth. Let’s make sure that it’s always cool to save water, recycle, and speak up for our environment. If we all work together, we can make this campaign a socktacular sock-cess.
Elissa Brent Weissman is the author of several award-winning middle grade books, including the popular Nerd Camp series and her newest novel, The Length of a String. She also teaches creative writing and is an active speaker in schools, with fun book-based resources for teachers. Elissa has participated in Authors for Earth Day every year since 2014. Check out her work at www.ebweissman.com.