The Great One
When I was younger I always had my nose in a book. It was difficult for my parents to ground me, because I would willingly go to my room and get lost in a book. What were they going to do, tell me I couldn’t read as punishment?
There are many books that I fell in love with as a child. But it was author, Judy Blume, who helped me love the voice of each individual character.
The Pain and the Great One was one the first Blume book I read. My parents gave it to me because the characters mirrored the relationship between my brother and me. You know, bossy, overachieving first child perceives her younger sibling as a nuisance, or a pain. As a child, I’m sure I thought she wrote the book about me.
But it was Mr. T, my second grade teacher who demonstrated what it was like to appreciate each character’s inner struggles and flaws. Each afternoon he would read us passages from Blume’s books from the Fudge Series. Each character had their own unique voice, which he demonstrated through attitude, gesture, and tone of voice. Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing, Superfudge, and Otherwise Known as Sheila the Great quickly became part of my growing library. To this day, I can still hear his voice during Sheila’s dialogue.
When I started writing fiction and creative nonfiction in college, I tried to mimic Mr. T’s method of giving my characters a physical voice. What did they sound like? How did they act? What were their habits? At a young age, he gave us the ability to visualize the story– and I think that’s why I grew to love reading so much.
I should also thank him, because I’m pretty sure reading kept me from getting grounded as much as I deserved.