Judith Moore remembered

23 Reader writers describe the regime of editor Judith Moore

She hated adverbs

Busy Fingers Are Happy Fingers — Joe Deegan Mother Reader — Barbarella Build Your Writing Muscles — Ollie Let the Tape Recorder Do the Work — Matthew Lickona Faith — Abe Opincar Make Something Better ...

Build Your Writing Muscles

Now I can write a column in four hours.

"Writing is like a muscle, honey." Judith always called me honey, and her voice was warm like cinnamon tea. "The more you use the muscle, the stronger you get; the more you can write. Write ...

She Knew How Fragile Writers Could Be

E-mails were short, sometimes five words.

I used to send Judith gifts around Mother's Day. Not on, but around -- because she wasn't my mother. But among her many titles -- mentor, boss, friend -- there was also this: the mysterious ...

Late Have I Loved You

She taught me how to find joy through suffering, prayer, humility, and love.

Our dealings from the beginning had a mother-daughter feel. Judith played the loving, nurturing mother; I, the eager-to-please daughter. It was curious, because we never met. But she headed her e-mails "Dear heart," "Cream puff," ...

She Hated Adverbs

And she didn't suffer fools gladly.

I knew Judith Moore only through her voice: a baritone with a slight Southern accent. And I knew her writing. The first time I spoke to Judith -- in early 1997 -- she called me ...

Ask Them How They Vote

And bleed on the page.

Aside from my father, the only real, if informal, writing teacher I've ever had was Judith Moore. I met her in 1989, when I was working at Hunter's Books in La Jolla, one of the ...

Let the Tape Recorder Do the Work

She encouraged me to apply for an NEA grant.

I could almost be tempted to resent Judith for getting my hopes up. When she signed my copy of her food memoir Never Eat Your Heart Out back in 1997, she inscribed it, "To Matt ...

She Gave More Than She Took

She never said "Hi" when I answered the phone; she just started talking.

Judith was a ghost to me. She was present, but never corporeally. It strikes me as ironic that I never met her, considering that the body — her body — was one of her principal ...

Too Many Passive Verbs

She cajoled me. She encouraged me. She got tough on my ass.

Judith Moore called me in the fall of 1995, when I was living temporarily in Laguna Beach and teaching at UC Irvine for a semester. Judith was familiar with my poems and deduced from some ...

She Let Me Know What She Didn't Want

She told me that she was "not interested in O. Henry stories."

Judith Moore remains an enigma to me. When first asked to write for the Reader, I was instructed to run everything by Judith. Who was this lady? Why did she live in Berkeley if she ...

Judith's Creed was Read, Read, Read

Near the end of Judith's life, she allowed me to sit at her feet and watch her work.

A friend once told me, "Nothing ruins a bird but its beak." It wasn't until Judith told me that the biggest mistakes a writer can make are (a) talking about what he or she is ...

Pay Attention to the Details

Every other day, Judith called and asked in a husky voice, "How's your reading coming, honey?"

Her first order to me, sent by fax, was to buy and read Joan Didion's Slouching towards Bethlehem. I was 23 and recently graduated from Thomas Aquinas College, a Catholic liberal arts school where the ...

"It's a Good Story for You"

I was grateful just to be called, to be trusted.

Though she was my editor, I never met Judith. I knew her instead via calls and e-mail. When she phoned, there'd be that throaty alto, so sure, so self-possessed. I'd grab a pen, and she'd ...

"You Don't Do Anger"

She was willing to bawl me out.

Judith came out of nowhere. She called one evening and asked if I'd like to write something for the Reader. I'd read the Reader enough to feel flattered, since the writers I'd encountered in it ...

She Got Me to Think Out Loud

Judith and I spoke on the telephone perhaps nine or ten times. I wish I had recordings of those lengthy conversations.

Though I never met Judith Moore, she was one of the most significant people who's ever entered my life. She believed in and nurtured my writing abilities even before I really did. She liked my ...

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