Judy Blume, forever

Judy Blume

I asked Blume if she ever thinks about who her characters might have become as adults.

"No, never!" she said. "And that's why, when people say, 'Oh, you've got to write a book about Margaret and menopause,' I say, 'Are you kidding me? Never!' Margaret is never going to be in menopause because she's always going to be 12. Leave her alone! No! Somebody else maybe would be in menopause, but not Margaret."

Throughout her career, Blume avoided signing book contracts in advance. "I just don't like anybody saying, 'How's it going? When is it going to be done?' I'm very good at setting goals and deadlines for myself, so I don't really need that from outside." She didn't even get around to securing an agent until after 'Margaret' was published.

"The big question," she said, "is what initially drew me to writing in the first place." Was she spurred on by the era itself, empowered by "The Feminine Mystique" and women's lib?

"Yes, I got caught up in that. But no, that's not when I started to write. Or why I started to write. No. My writing was my own need inside me. I had to do something. I was sick all the time. I was unhappy. I loved — I still do love — taking care of babies and little kids. But something was missing. I needed something else."

There were many misfires at first. "She had an ambition to be a writer," said Larry. "I remember that. And then I remember her working really hard at it. And I remember when she got rejections and she cried a lot. And I remember when she got her first acceptance.

"I was downstairs playing, I must have been really young, and she grabbed me and threw me up in the air and spun me around. 'I'm getting published! I'm getting published!'"

Are you there God? It's me, Margaret. I know you're there God. I know you wouldn't have missed this for anything! Thank you God. Thanks an awful lot...

I didn't cry that day on the phone with Blume. If I had, I'm not sure I could have stopped.

Judy Blume will appear at Lit Fest at 2 p.m., Sunday, June 9. Nina Metz covers film, TV and theater for the Tribune. See her story in A&E about the movie version of "Tiger Eyes."