Wednesday, November 30, 2011

On The Radio

Monday afternoon I am making Chicken Ala King for dinner, listening to NPR, when Judy Blume just happens to join me in the kitchen. I have tuned into Talk of the Nation in the middle of the segment, but when it dawns on me that the mild-mannered woman Neal Conan is interviewing is in fact Judy Blume, the room kind of spins around for a minute. It is the same kind of response I had when I discovered that Rhoald Dahl's daughter Ophelia runs a charity that aids Haiti, or, more recently, that Stalin had a daughter living in, of all places, Wisconsin. Dumbfounded, I listen as callers dial in and ask Mrs. Blume writing questions, as if she is actually a real person. In my mind, she is a work of fiction - like Sheila the Great or Superfudge. But, obviously, she's not - because she's politely answering questions and relaying the story of how, when she was starting out, she squeezed in a couple of hours of writing when her children were in school. Like me.

I listen as she tells about the time she went to the book section of a department store and was surprised to find that the clerk had shelved Are You There God? It's Me,Margaret next to the bibles. To me, it doesn't seem like such an error in judgment. I grew up reading Blume's books, It's Me, Margaret among them, back when the mysteries of maturation were too taboo and forbidden to actually talk about. At the time, those books served as a bible of sorts - before menstruation became a nuisance and I discovered that the exercise accompanying the chant "I must, I must, I must increase my bust" isn't as effective as I'd hoped.

The funny thing is, Monday in the kitchen, Judy Blume managed to assist me through my post-adolescent phase, too. She gave one of those callers some writing advice, and, for me, it rang true:

"It's all about your determination, I think, as much as anything. There are a lot of people with talent, but it's that determination. I mean, you know, I would cry when the rejections came in — the first couple of times, anyway — and I would go to sleep feeling down, but I would wake up in the morning optimistic and saying, 'Well, maybe they didn't like that one, but wait till they see what I'm going to do next.' And I think you just have to keep going.

"You know what? The thing is that nobody writes unless they have to. So if you have to write because it's inside you, then you will."

Check out the whole interview here.

13 comments:

  1. Excellent, Kim, thanks for this.

    Incidentally, 'Otherwise Known as Sheila the Great' was just about my favorite novel throughout elementary school. The other Blume book I really loved as a kid was, 'Starring Sally J. Freedman as Herself.'

    ReplyDelete
  2. I love that quote! How true about most things in life. If we give up too early, we'll never know what we could have accomplished if we'd stuck with things.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I am embarrassingly uncultured...I don't listen to NPR and I've never read "It's Me, Margaret," but I really like her thoughts about determination.

    ReplyDelete
  4. What a great interview. I love Judy Bloom. Is makes me feel better knowing that Judy felt rejected too :)

    ReplyDelete
  5. Suze - I loved both of those, too.
    Stacy & Angie - the interview was really motivating... if you have time, check it out.
    Janel - Maybe you don't want to hang out with me anymore - I may be a bad influence on you :)

    ReplyDelete
  6. I'm kinda bankin' on that determination bit. My talent is mediocre but my determination is impressive.

    ReplyDelete
  7. This was a nice post. A nice wakeup call to me. Thanks, Kim, for the glass of cold water in my face. That's the mark of a true writer friend. Great Blume interview--I love writers.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Very inspiring, Kim. Thanks for sharing this. I like Judy Blume even more now (I didn't think that was possible).

    ReplyDelete
  9. Can't wait to listen to the interview. I can't even find the rut where I lost my determination. But the Search is on!
    -Stacy

    ReplyDelete
  10. That is awesome! I love her books :)

    ReplyDelete
  11. Great quote! Judy Blume is wonderful.

    ReplyDelete
  12. I love that: "as if she is actually a real person." I feel the exact same way! She is the only person I've ever written a fan letter to.

    ReplyDelete