Judy Blume

So, after a week of walking among the trees, I noticed one afternoon that I had an itch in that my throat that refused to go away. That scratchiness blossomed into a cough that possessed me every time that I wanted to laugh. And then I grew tired. I think the tree on the trail that looks like a witch is cackling about me. Or maybe she's crying. I would really like to see her. But it's not time yet.

I ventured out for breakfast this morning, and I experienced the phenomenon where, after I ate a bite of food, the rest of the food seemed to expand on my plate. I was defeated by a veggie omelette this morning. It's amazing how a cold can kidnap your appetite. Then we went to explore downtown and discovered that many shops are not open on Sundays. That turned out to be just right. I told Mike that I have about as much energy as a car with its gas light on. We did find a wonderful store though, Mountain Home Gifts, where I found a beautiful scarf with hummingbirds on it that I thought would be three times the price. It's soft and comforting and perhaps when I wear it, I can sing like a bird. But right now I'm conked out in bed because I'm inhabited by this grinch of a cold who chuckles malevolently when I look at the sunshine and think wistfully of walks.

During this convalescence, I've been watching Judy Blume's Master Class. As a child, I loved Judy Blume's books. Revisiting her YA novels and discovering her adult work is currently on my to-do list. I gave this class to myself as a Christmas gift, and I've been dipping into it slowly. I'm always a little skeptical about writing classes. Are they going to just teach generalities that will make me yawn? Are they going to insist that they have the answer, which will get my back up, and make it hard for me to listen to anything that they say?

In this case, I'm happy to report that Judy Blume is an inspirational teacher. I have gone through about half of her course now, and I'm so pleased with the experience. She comes across as a no-frills person, free of any pretense, someone who cares passionately about writing, someone who is generous with her time and information, someone who truly is interested in mentoring writers. What she says is deceptively simple, the way all great writing is. She tells us that she keeps a notebook. She shows us pages of scribbles that she writes in it. She says she asks questions about her characters here. This is how she gets to know them. To illustrate her points, she uses moments from her books as examples. In that way, you see her courage. She is willing to return to her memories and write about things that really concerned her as a girl growing up, no holds barred. You can see how much she cares about her characters. Her hands come alive when she begins to talk about them. You can hear the affection that she has for each character in the sound of her voice. Through the course, she demonstrates how important specifics are to a scene and to a character—the grandmother arriving unannounced with a shopping bag from the deli because they can't possibly have good food in New Jersey, the father upstairs, hearing about her arrival, while he goes about brushing his teeth. He thought it was just going to be a regular morning.

It's an old school experience, listening to her. I would be shocked if, in later lessons, she said, “And then I discovered Scrivener, and these are the tricks I learned” or “Now I use voice dictation, and my productivity has been boosted tenfold.” To me, what she is talking about is fundamental care and thoughtfulness and listening that can accompany your creativity. I am so appreciative of the opportunity to spend time with her through these videos.