Judy Blume Feels Insecure?
Weeks ago I found myself watching a morning news shows in my doctor’s waiting room before an appointment. I can’t remember which show it was. One I don’t normally watch. (I’m a Today Show girl so I want to say it was the CBS Morning News, but it could’ve also been Good Morning America.)
At any rate, whichever one it was, I was lucky enough not to be called in to see Dr. Bess before I got to see the interview with Judy Blume. She was promoting her new book for adults: In the Unlikely Event.
Growing up, Judy Blume was one of my idols. Whether you wanted to be a writer or not, Judy Blume seemed to understand adolescent angst and anxiety and mold it around completely relate-able characters.
But if, like me, you aspired to be a writer, even way back in those prepubescent years, well…Judy Blume was a roll model.
Her most well-known book is probably Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret. She made it safe for us girls to talk about periods. (Well, and even some boys who were brave enough to broach the topic with us.)
But what I remember most about that book is she gave me something to talk with my mother about. Not about the period thing. My mom looked like she was about to be either violently ill or fly into a rage whenever I tried to talk sex ed with her.
No, in the Are You There God? rendition I read back in the late 1970s, Margaret lived in a time before modern technology as we know it. There were party lines and Margaret had an obsession with Esther Williams.
The Margaret in Judy Blume’s book grew up in a time very similar to my mom’s childhood. I’d ask my mom about things I didn’t understand in the book. (Like “Were there really party lines that your neighbors could listen in on your phone calls?”)
My mom ended up relating memories of her youth to me. Something she never did. She so firmly believed in living in the present and forgetting the past that I knew nothing about where she’d come from because she never talked about it. Ever.
Until I started reading Are You There God? and asking questions.
I think I’ve always been a historian at heart because I wanted to know about my parents. My dad was great about talking about his growing up years. (He might’ve been a little too good about it. It made my mom mad how much “living in the past” he did.)
Anyway, I’m getting off topic. To this day I still carry Judy Blume’s characters and life lessons with me that I gleaned from her books.
That’s why I was shocked when she admitted during her interview that she didn’t read other authors while she was creating. She found it too intimidating and she had a hard time quieting the voices of doubt. The ones that whisper, “Why are you doing this? You’re not good enough. No one’s going to like what you write.”
What?! I about fell out of my chair when Judy Blume, the Judy Blume, admitted even she fights the little voices inside her head. Even now. After all of her success and fame.
Talk about being astonished.
Yet, all it did was endear her to me even more.
Because even though her voices try to make her doubt herself and deter her from following her dreams, she’s found a way not to listen. To take away their power and silence them.
Fascinating. Exhilarating. Inspirational.
Thank you, Ms. Blume, for once again imparting wisdom, hope, and encouragement in that special way only you can.