Colette has posted her blog about the problems connected with giving friends your writing to read, and this is a big dilemma for many of us, readers and writers.
Now, I would never, ever take a friend's opinion as valid; even if that friend happened to be a publisher or editor. Because (most) friends don't want to hurt you, however they feel about your work, and it takes a tough person to risk killing off a friendship because they told the truth about a bad piece of writing. It would be like telling them their precious baby was ugly*.
Some time ago, a very good friend of mine, S, gave me his 100,000 word novel to read. Big mistake, on both our parts. The novel was terrible, in every possible way. He had broken every rule in the book, it was dull and it was badly written. I confess that I didn't get far with it, but then I had to give a verdict...
Readers, I lied. I didn't say this would be a runaway best-seller, but I (very gently) suggested improvements, and pointed out the more obvious errors and repetitions. However, I did it so nicely (?) that S was greatly encouraged, and went back to beaver away at his novel. It was never published.
What, if any, experiences have you had, on either side of the reading/writing fence?
*I once almost did this. Confronted with one of the ugliest babies I have ever seen, I said the first (or rather, second) thing that came into my mind: "what a lovely babygro!"