I met up with my friend recently and asked how the novel was going along. 'I've given it up,' she said. 'As no one was connecting with it, there didn't seem any point in carrying on.' This was said while pointedly not looking me in the eye and, not being completely dim, I picked up that this might just be referring to me. Yup. It turned out that my lack of ecstatic enthusiasm for the work had convinced them that they should stop right there.
I was amazed, as I thought I'd been quite positive, if not gushing. I didn't say much more - it seemed best not to - but there were lots of things I wanted to say afterwards...
1. You shouldn't ask for feedback if you don't want it. Or warn me that you only want praise instead of asking me to be really honest.
2. No one's work is perfect; there are always comments to be made.
3. It takes me a lot of time to read, think, then give feedback. I don't do it lightly so accept that if you're feeling disgruntled about my feedback, I'm also feeling put out that I wasted my time.
4. Publication is a collaborative process. You'll get feedback from editors, agents, copy editors etc. You've got to get used to it if you want to be published.
5. If you are dissuaded from continuing your writing because of one person's comments then you probably shouldn't be thinking of putting your work out in public - authors need to have a solid core of self belief.
6. It's all opinion. When I enthuse about a piece of writing it's worth just the same as when I'm less positive. It's my opinion, no more, no less. If I offer feedback it's what, in my opinion, could be done to improve the writing. My opinion - though it pains me to say this - isn't infallible. It might not work for you.
I hope that once they've got over this, they will carry on with their writing. It's good. But it could be better - in my opinion of course.