Chapter 23 of 24 from Judy Blume

Career Journey

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Judy started writing because she was desperate for a creative outlet. She shares how her desire to feel normal led her to create enduring emotional connections with readers who wanted to feel the same way.

Topics include: Connect With Readers • Find Your Chutzpah • Celebrate the Milestones • Cherish the Highlights • Share the Love

Judy started writing because she was desperate for a creative outlet. She shares how her desire to feel normal led her to create enduring emotional connections with readers who wanted to feel the same way.

Topics include: Connect With Readers • Find Your Chutzpah • Celebrate the Milestones • Cherish the Highlights • Share the Love

Judy Blume

Judy Blume Teaches Writing

In 24 lessons, Judy Blume will show you how to develop vibrant characters and hook your readers.

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Write timeless stories

Judy Blume broke the rules. Her refreshingly honest children’s books were banned by hundreds of libraries—and loved by generations of readers, who bought 85 million copies of classics like Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret and Superfudge. In her first online class, the award-winning author teaches you how to invent vivid characters, write realistic dialogue, and turn your experiences into stories people will treasure.

Watch, listen, and learn as Judy teaches her first-ever writing class.

A downloadable workbook accompanies the class with lesson recaps, assignments, and supplemental material.

Upload videos to get feedback from the class. Judy will also critique select student work.

Reviews

4.7
Students give MasterClass an average rating of 4.7 out of 5 stars.

I have learned so much on how to create characters and stay true to my image and ideas! Thank you Judy and MASTERCLASS

Great inspiration , insight and technical knowledge

So moving and authentic. Judy Blume was probably one of the best teachers on Masterclass. So real and transparent about the business and her process. Great class overall!

Thank you Judy for all of your helpful advice during these lessons. They have really helped me open my mind to different ideas I can pursue when it comes to writing. I will definitely be putting your tips into practice once I start writing a new story. Thank you for your openness during the class and inspirational words of encouragement!

Comments

Rachel M.

I remember when I got the email saying my first short story was accepted. I was at work on my lunch break. But see, I worked at a nursery school and it was nap time, so I had to keep in my excited squealing and just keep my mouth open letting the silent screams out!

Angela U.

What a wonderful message from a wonderful person. The warmth, the personality of Judy just shines through her humanity and vulnerability.

MK D.

Judy is clearly a beautiful and courageous person and writer. She has given me hope that I can accomplish my goals as a writer. Thank you for your heartfelt encouragement and also, so honestly sharing your journey. If I am ever in Florida I will make every effort to visit your bookshop. ~ Best wishes! Kitty (PS; You are gorgeous!)

Carmen A.

i was so touched by your ending in this lesson, judy. the love you so obviously have for books, the kindness and respect you show for writers who created those books, wanting to lovingly display their stories. i was touched my you saying you loved the books, and the writers who wrote them, and so much emotion in your voice. i will carry not only your books forever in my heart, but that image of you loving the book i will finish and publish, and know that it will be lovingly displayed in your book shop in key west! thank you, judy! ❤💖

Ricardo M.

What a beautiful class & a lovely professor. Thank you, Judy for your gift & sensitivity - I learned so much. To all my collegues in here, I wish you all the best and hope to see you in a Bookshelf soon !

Bob S.

I never thought of myself as a writer. My sister read some of my stories I wrote about a teenager who solves mysteries. She liked the stories and last year for Christmas, she gave me this Master Class as a gift. I enjoy writing the stories; I have 18 mysteries now with the same characters. I'm not sure I will ever publish, but it is fun. Thanks Judy Blume for the class (and my sister). The class was interesting and I picked up many great ideas.

Mia S.

"My next birthday, I'll be 80; I don't want to be locked up anymore, I'm too happy to be around people. I love that, I love the energy of being at the bookshop. The first season, [we] worked seven days a week, and that was a lot. It's exhausting. And I'm out front, so I'm on my feet out there all day, every day, meeting wonderful people - locals, snowbirds, visitors from all over the world, and there's just so many book lovers, and they're so excited to find a real - I don't know if we should say 'old-fashioned', but - a real indie bookstore, where they can come in and talk to staff about books. We now have three paid employees, and during our high season which is winter, we have a lot of volunteers. One knows poetry, one used to work at a bookshop in the UK, and they're real book lovers and they can help our customers find what they're looking for which is great. I can't tell you how excited I am every day to get up and go to work, and every day (I've written for a long time), I get up and I say, 'Thank you thank you, I don't have to write to day, I can go to my bookshop.' For me it's a wonderful change. I could never got up and not have something to do that's creative, and there's a lot of creative energy that goes into - I used to call it 'petting my books,' I love displaying them. I love moving them around. I love handling them, telling people about them. I've learned the other side of the story. I'm not sure that it would have been a good thing for me to know when I was writing. When you only have so much room in a bookshop, eventually books are going to go back so that new books can come in. That is so, so hard. My mentor's said to me, 'Judy, you're going to have to learn to be ruthless.' And I said, 'No, because I know what it's like. I know that feeling about, 'Please keep my book in your bookshop, please give my book as much time as you can.' I will give them as much time and attention as I possibly can, because I love them and I love you for writing them."

Mia S.

"I've had so many defining moments. I feel so lucky from that first moment to being offered an honorary degree at Mount Holyoke. I couldn't take standardized tests - I took them, but I panicked and couldn't answer any of the questions, and so I did my SATs by randomly filling in the blanks. Of course when you do that, you don't do very well. I could not apply to Mount Holyoke. Fortunately, I got into some good schools anyway because I was a good student - but my SAT scores were as low as you could get, as you can imagine when you answer at random and you never read the questions. I knew I'd have to give a commencement address, but I knew what I was going to do because I looked up Mount Holyoke and discovered that college was no longer insisting that you give SAT scores. They were also admitting young women based on their portfolios and their recommendations from school. I read this and thought, 'Yes, this is what I'm going to say.' I got up there on the stage and told my story to the graduates about why I was so proud to get this honorary degree - because even though I couldn't go when I was 18 because I was too scared to take those tests, here I was now and I wasn't scared anymore. About a year and a half ago, my husband and I founded a bookstore in Key West; we are affiliated with The Great Books and Books in Miami. When we got to town 20 years ago we have four or five bookstores, and now we were down to one used bookstore. We really wanted a shop - I mean, this is a town of writers and artists and people who love to read, love books, and we just felt we wanted to do this. Like many things I do, we didn't think this through - 'What would this really mean if it happened and we got to have a wonderful full-service bookshop? What would it mean for us?' And we just went with it. It is so incredibly exciting. It came at the right time for me in my professional life. After 50 years, and after five years writing 'In the Unlikely Event,' I really felt, I've done what I wanted to do, and I'm not going to write any more long novels. I'm not saying that I'll never write another book - I don't know, there are little things brewing on the back-burners, but not a three-to-five year project."

Mia S.

"After that I did some stories for little children that weren't rhyming but that I envisioned as picture books, and then one day an advertisement came in the mail from NYU (I had graduated from NYU, so I got their mailings) - it talked about a class in writing, people who were interested in writing from picture-book age to tweens. I thought, 'This is an omen - I have to do this.' And so I did. I do believe that that teacher gave me my first professional encouragement, and that's where it all started. The absolute first acceptance that I had was for a little picture storybook called 'The One in the Middle is the Green Kangaroo.' That was my first real book, and when that call came in, they said 'We can offer you $300,' and I was like, 'OK,' because there was going to be an illustrator and probably the other $300 was going to go to her or him. I put down the phone and I went whooping through the house and I went downstairs where my children were playing with some other children with 'silly sand,' and I just put my hands into that bowl of silly sand and threw it up in the air and went carrying on. 'Larry's mommy has gone crazy' - which was true because I had gone crazy, it was the most exciting moment of my life. Then Dick's call was really more exciting - I understood that that was something different, that this was working with a real editor. I didn't have that with the first book. It was a book I sent in, that they accepted - I don't remember if there was copy editing or if I changed anything. But with Dick, I knew this was the real deal. I was in a real publishing company and this editor liked my work enough to publish it. We kind of grew up together - we came of age together, professionally, and Bradbury Press became I think the finest publisher of children's books for a long time. There is no more Bradbury Press, sadly, but the books are still alive and well with another publisher."

Mia S.

"I never dreamed of anything like this when I started to write. My first dreams were very simple - 'please let somebody want to publish something that I write.' Then I get a little more greedy, and I say, 'OK, now something's been published - maybe someday I'll hear from somebody who's read one of my books. Then when that came true, I just stopped, I never dreamed of this kind of success over so many years. People ask me, 'What's your legacy?' and the only thing I can think to say, and the most important thing, is that I've connected with readers for so many generations now, and to me - I couldn't ask for anything else. When I was in my mid-20s and these creative urges started to bubble up like, 'I have to do something,' and I had little kids and I wasn't in those days working outside of the home, I was trying to find something I could do at home - and I started making felt pictures for children's bedrooms. With a lot of determination and chutzpah, I must say looking back, I packed them up in a suitcase and took the bus to NYC and marched into Bloomingdale's with my felt pictures. Someone took pity on me and led me to the buyer of children's accessories, who looked in my suitcase and said, 'I want this one.' It was, 'Oh my god, he's going to buy these and sell them!' and I believe I was paid $9 for each one, they sold them for $18. I was in heaven; I had creative work that I could do in my basement, I had a little workshop down there. I never could have imagined anything better than that. But after a year, my fingers got itchy from the glue; I was a young mother reading a lot of books to little children, and like so many, I thought, 'I could do this,' 'I'm going to try to do this.' That's when I sat down and started to do imitation Dr. Seuss, rhyming picture books. That's where it started."

Transcript

It seems impossible looking back that this has been my life and that I've been lucky enough to find a way to use the creative energy that has been inside me. It seems impossible that 50 years have gone by because it feels like yesterday, really, that I was starting out. I remember when Margaret was published, and it was reviewed in the New York Times, which seemed like an impossible thing. Anyway, and it was in a roundup of seven books, and it was reviewed last. And it said, the best of the seven and something else wonderful. And I thought, my God! That's when I really thought, maybe I can do this. Maybe I am a writer. That's the first time that it really hit me, I think, that this impossible dream was coming true. I've had plenty of bad reviews since then, but that first one that made me feel that I could be a writer. [MUSIC PLAYING] Before email, I used to get so many letters from kids who read my books that in the '80s, I decided to put them together in a book that I called Letters from Judy: What Your Kids Wish They Could Tell You. Because so many kids wrote about, I can't tell my parents, so I'm telling you. Because of course, it was safe to tell me. So they poured their hearts out and their guts. And they they asked me their questions. And I thought I wanted to share this book with parents, with teachers, and with other kids who could see themselves. The letters are connected with autobiographical essays. So you find out a lot about me, and I share a lot about what the children were writing. And these are a few letters from that book. "Dear Judy, my mom never talks about the things young girls think most about. She doesn't know how I feel. I don't know where I stand in the world. I don't know who I am. That's why I read, to find myself. From Elizabeth, age 13". This means absolutely the world to me, everything to me, to know that my books have touched young readers and readers of all ages in such a personal way, that we're connected in this way. And when I read a letter like this about a girl who just wants to feel normal, that's me. I was a girl who just wanted to feel normal. So I never dreamed of anything like this when I started to write. You know, my first dreams were very simple. Please, let somebody want to publish something that I write. And then I get a little more greedy and I say, OK, now something's been published. Maybe someday I'll hear from somebody who's read one of my books. And then when that came true, I just stopped. I just stopped. I never dreamed of this kind of success over so many years. People ask me, what's your legacy. And the only thing I can think to say-- and the most important thing-- is that I've connected with readers for so many generations now. And to me, I couldn't ask for anything else. [MUSIC PLAYING] When I was in my mid 20s and these creative urges...