Blume discusses writing, terrorism

A chapter in Judy Blume’s forthcoming book, which will be the next in her popular series about Fudge Hatcher, dealt with Fudge’s decision to track down Osama bin Laden in the subways of New York and collect a large reward.

“Then Sept. 11 came,” Blume said. “And nothing was funny anymore.”

During a Master’s Tea on Tuesday, Blume talked about her literary career and the difficulty she has had writing since Sept. 11. Blume said she was touched by the number of students who attended the Calhoun College Master’s Tea, and projected her voice out toward the stragglers in the courtyard who listened to her words through the windows.

Blume has since tossed out the chapter about bin Laden, which was extraneous to the book’s main plot. Blume is writing the book at the request of her grandson Elliot, and is hoping to publish it next fall.

Blume said she has been unable to write since the attacks, though she refused to call her problem writer’s block.

“There are good days and bad days,” she said. “I’m so afraid of facing a blank piece of paper, a blank screen.”

But Blume said there is a reason to continue writing children’s books even after the terrorist attacks.

“Come next fall there will still be children who need funny stories,” Blume said.

Shellie Weisfield ’05 said she enjoyed hearing Blume speak.

“Her melodrama was hilarious, particularly when she flopped back on the couch, asking [Calhoun Master William] Sledge for Freudian psychoanalysis,” Weisfield said.

Blume is the acclaimed author of such books as “Freckle Juice” and “The One in the Middle is the Green Kangaroo.”

During the Tea Katie Cole ’03 suggested a Fudge book involving a trip to Yale, which induced laughter from both Blume and the audience.

Blume also deals with more serious matters. She is on the board of the National Coalition Against Censorship and wrote the introduction for “Places I Never Meant To Be, Original Stories by Censored Writers.”

She said that a woman who read her coming-of-age novel “Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret” once phoned her house and called her a communist.

“Someone once said I was the most banned author in the world. Do I look like the most banned writer in the world?” Blume said.

Blume also discussed her most recent book, the more adult-oriented “Summer Sisters.”

She said she wrote over 20 drafts of the novel and was rejected by all of her regular publishers. Blume praised an editor who, instead of criticizing the book, asked her questions that shed light on the problems Blume was having with her male characters.

“A really good editor never tells you what to do,” Blume said.

At one point in the Tea, Blume digressed a bit in front of the audience of college students.

“Someday, somewhere, some graduate student is going to write a thesis on teeth in Judy Blume books,” Blume said.

She followed this statement by talking about the impact her dentist father had on her books.

Near the end of her talk, Blume emphasized the importance of creativity in her craft.

“A writer can’t have too much imagination,” Blume said.

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