After completing the Margaret Atwood MasterClass, I was excited to begin another of their writing courses. The Judy Blume class was an obvious pick, as I fell in love with Are You There, God? It’s Me, Margaret as a child.
My first piece of advice to those who are considering a MasterClass.com All Access Pass is to try not to compare the courses. Though other reviews have written about the formulaic nature of the classes, you will be much happier if you take each one on its own merit. In my previous review, for example, I praised the documentary quality of Atwood’s class. While Blume’s class is certainly well-made, it does not have some of the fancy transitions or atmospheric qualities that Atwood’s does.
Another area where the Blume class differs from the Atwood class is the accompanying workbook. Where Atwood’s workbook feels much like a college syllabus, Blume’s seems a bit more simplistic. This isn’t necessarily bad. The exercises are basic but helpful, and are certainly a way to dig deeper into Blume’s work. The workbook includes a letter from Blume at the beginning which makes up for any shortcomings. Her encouragement, support, and friendly encouragement to “read, read, read” are touching. Some writers, though, may wish for a more varied reading list or more challenging assignments.
Blume discusses her process in detail, and fans of her work will enjoy the inside look into the development of her books. One of the main topics of conversation is her notebook– she keeps a new one for each book. Though the class could benefit from more peeks into these notebooks, Blume’s discussion of how she uses them is fascinating and educational. I did find myself wishing for more technical details about writing, as much of her advice feels specific to her own work or style.
Blume also discusses creativity, censorship, and the struggles she faced writing about sensitive topics openly in books for young readers. Her tone is no-nonsense but cheery, and is inspirational for any writer facing fear about the reception of their own work.
Course-takers will likely find themselves more interested in one half of the class or the other. The writing advice is more geared toward beginners, whereas the later lessons apply more toward those with at least a bit more experience. My favorite lessons of the class came near the end when Blume discusses working with editors, querying agents, facing rejection, and the book marketplace. When so much writing advice is focused on just getting words on paper, it is refreshing and encouraging to hear from such a master about these post-first draft topics.
A lesson on Blume’s own career journey is also fascinating. She shares her early forays into creating felt children’s decor and the idea that creative people often just need some kind of creative outlet. As a mom to young children, I was inspired by Blume’s ability to jump start her writing career as a young mother.
The Judy Blume MasterClass is a worthy investment for fans of Blume’s work, and particularly those who aspire to write for young people. All writers can benefit from witnessing her bravery and determination. If you are looking for an intermediate or advanced craft course, this is probably not the MasterClass for you. If you are looking for a feel-good experience that leaves you feeling ready to go for your writing goals and face any challenges to it head on, you’ll enjoy Blume’s class.
Particularly touching is the emotion Blume displays when talking about her own career and characters. Blume’s gratitude and love for those who shaped her career, for the stories that flow through her, and for her readers are palpable. I found myself moved to tears by her closing, in which she discusses her own bookshop and promises to show love to the books of the writers taking the class.
Take this class ready to think deeply about young people and the kinds of books they deserve, and to feel inspired to follow your own creative dreams.