Judy Blume was a staple of my pre-teens. For the most part I found it easier to relate to the minor characters in her stories like the friend that didn't tell the other two she already had her period in Just as Long as We're Together (or was it Are You There God It's Me Margaret, they kind of blend together after almost twenty years). I was more inclined to wish that things would slow down unlike her characters who were usually praying for things to speed up. Still, I found her characters to ring true even though I rarely, if ever, discussed any such things so openly with my friends let alone formed a club about it.
Of her three books written for adults, two I read so long ago I don't really remember them, the other one, Summer Sisters, I still pick up and read once in a while when I'm desperate for a quick afternoon read (I am seriously a reading escapist - I've read at least a half dozen novels since starting maternity leave and was actually reading one to keep my mind off contractions when Julia was on her way - books are my drugs). The thing I remember most clearly from when I first read Summer Sisters was this part where one of the main characters, Vix, catches a glimpse of herself in the mirror when she is going through major emotional turmoil and sees that her face betrays nothing. A poker face at the most unhelpful time.
I'm awful at not betraying a terrible or terribly good hand at cards. I have great difficulty not betraying a level of arrogance when in arguments about work, policy, or politics. But when it comes to things that actually matter I think I sometimes conceal myself a little too well. I place an unfair burden on those close to me to be really good at discerning my tells and striking the balance that won't lead to my flight instinct. I think that's why I'm struggling with this blog writing: it has the capacity to expose me. Because of the dooce factor I'm not sure I can stay safely hidden behind cutting and cynicial comments about politics and policy, where I think I'm at my funniest. I think fear of exposure is why when I thought about writing seriously I was attracted to journalism where the job is to lay others bare or report the facts without inserting any part of yourself into the story. I think it's probably why I'm a good policy writer - policy writing is supposed to be emotionless.
Lately, my flight instinct on this blog has been pretty high. I could just drop it: that would be soo much easier and I think I could get away with it too using the new baby as an excuse. Truth is, I don't really want to drop it, though; I like being challenged in this way and even if it remains sub par I think it will help keep the old writing muscle from getting too flabby over the next 10 months (Oh God, I'm already down to ten months).
Working through this has changed the way I read books as well. I'm looking for the patterns in the author's tales - what is it the author is trying to work through as they repeatedly revisit similar characters or plots? All authors do it no matter how talented - they tell the same stories, make the same points, again and again, each time working it out in a different way. I wonder what Judy Blume's body of work says about her? At the end of my maternity leave, what will this blog say about me (other than the fact that I had great difficulty actually writing anything)?