Chapter 19 of 24 from Judy Blume

Working with Editors

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A young editor discovered Judy in the slush pile and changed her work—and life—forever. Judy shares how she approached working with editors to arrive at the best possible version of her work.

Topics include: Find a Dick Jackson • Remain Open and Willing With Editors • Editing Summer Sisters

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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I was discovered in the slush pile at a new, young publishing company called Bradbury Press, by an editor, Dick Jackson. I had no idea how lucky I was that Dick Jackson took me on. I once said to him, what did you see in my first book-- it was Iggie's House. What did you see in that book that made you want to do it? And he said, I saw the next book and the book after that and the book after that. And not everybody gets as lucky as I was to find the perfect editor for your work early on, and somebody who was willing to work with you for the next ten books. And we were a team, and I learned so much from Dick. And I wish that for everyone. He finds in a writer the right way to release what they can do, and he helps them find the best way to tell their story. So, in working with Dick, we talked a lot about characters, about story. But more about characters, really, because characters always lead you to what is this story and what's it about. And it was always through sitting together, face-to-face, at his desk, going over things, and Dick would ask me questions. And I learned from Dick, when I'm not working with him, to ask the same questions. They're not as good, and I get lazy and I don't always do it. But I learned from him that in answering these questions, I release something inside, that I know much more than I've presented in my early drafts. There's much more in there. And that's why I say, for me, sometimes the very best surprises, the very best moments, emotional moments, come at the very end. [MUSIC PLAYING] I always, always listen. And I, in most cases, always give it a try, what they're saying. Because why not? I give it a try. And if it's wrong, it won't come to me. It won't come when I'm trying to revise along that line. It just won't work. And then I know it's wrong, and I can say, this isn't working for me. This isn't right for me. Sometimes, by figuring out what's not right, again, you'll figure out what is right. But I never am offended by what an editor says, because an editor, by that time-- by the time you're working with an editor, an editor has accepted your book. This is fabulous, right? Except that I worked with Dick Jackson the first time, editor, writer together, with no promise of publication. I doubt that that happens much today. But he cared enough about Iggie's House, he saw something in it, that he was willing to call me into his office and to sit with me for a couple of hours and talk it through, without a promise of publication. But it was so exciting, and it got me going, and the book was so, so much better the next time I sent it in, which I think was maybe a month. I really came home and I was fired up, and I revised the whole book and it got better. And then I sent it back to him, and then came the most wonderful day of my life. And it will be, the day that he called to offe...

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.

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Judy Blume

Judy Blume Teaches Writing