It’s the Great Audience, Charlie Brown!

In the spirit of Halloween, I’d like to take off my “competent writer” mask and confess: The scariest part of the writing process to me is SHARING my writing.  Whether it’s a magazine article that could be read by many or a midterm paper read only by my professor, audience reaction is a frightening part of the process that makes me cringe.

I feel like the Peanuts character, Linus, sitting in the pumpkin patch and waiting for the Great Pumpkin to approve of his sincere effort.  Rats! Sometimes that doesn’t happen.

What does happen to all writers is that once we share our words with others, we face a range of reactions from rejection and criticism to praise and encouragement to flat out indifference.  Like Linus, most writers put forth their best effort and attempt to present the roundest, plumpest, “orange-est” pumpkin, I mean paper.  Charlie Brown can loyally support us. Lucy can carve up our work. But, year after year, as writers, we will continue our quest for that perfect work. We will keep hoping to write article or essay that will make the Great Pumpkin rise out of the pumpkin patch, or better yet, get us published or earn us that A+.

Don’t be afraid to share your writing, no matter how scary that prospect seems. Even Charles Schulz faced harsh critics as well as great acclaim. To view some of his unforgettable Halloween fun, watch Linus in action as he awaits the approval of the Great Pumpkin.  Remember, it’s only make-believe. HAPPY HALLOWEEN!

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  • Kristen Anderson says:

    Hey Janet,
    I completely agree with you that sharing writing is indeed scary! It’s almost ironic when you stop to think about it though since in order to be a writer, you need readers. No matter how many times I share my writing, I never stop getting nervous and being worried because I just don’t know what the reader’s reaction will be. And that unknown – that, for me, is what is so scary!

  • Alice Beresin says:

    Janet and Kristen,

    I agree with you; sharing writing is the scary. I hate to hear my work read aloud by someone else, and I am always nervous when someone else reads it. I think many people in the arts have similar reactions. Many actors won’t watch their movies; many musicians won’t listen to their recordings. I know I always am disappointed with I see one of my illustration in print. Perhaps we enjoy the act, but always see the flaws in the product.

  • Robert K. Brown says:

    Could it be that what really scares us with seeing our writing in print, hearing it read out loud, or having it critiqued or graded, is that it is a reflection of ourselves. It is that feeling of, mirror, mirror, on the wall, who does that writing say is the…No matter the outcome, what we see or hear in that piece of writing will reflect and challenge our self-image, and until we are validated by our audience, there is that insecurity, or need for affirmation, that hangs on every word we write.

    We are what we write, and nothing reflects who we really are, not the person we consciously project to others, but the one we insulate, keep guarded, from the outside world. Our writing reflects that piece of ourselves we seldom share willingly, are afraid to reveal, without reservation. Our Identity. Look in the mirror.


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