Well, I've sent the manuscript of my fantasy novel to four writer friends. I expect encouragement (after all, they are my friends). What I hope for are probing questions, comments, and criticisms to guide me toward strengthening the story.
Of course, it's asking a big favor to request someone to read the manuscript for a whole novel, especially a first draft. Sometimes we're reluctant to make such a demand even for a shorter piece, especially since work never seems to live up to the excitement of first inspiration. That's where writing buddies come in: we read each other's work because we know that putting it out there is a necessary part of living in the arts. It's important to friendship, moreover, to keep up with what matters most to people dear to us. That's one reason I love this picture by Catherine Chaloux.
I first ran across Chaloux's witty, extravagant, joyous work six years ago in a Myth & Moor post, Rituals of Approach. Her writers' brio and camaraderie tickle my fancy even while they point to frustrations in the writing life. I wish I could find out more about her.
Meanwhile, in the recent comment to another Myth and Moor post, On art, fear, and the value of uncertainty, Jane Yolen offers a wise reminder to everyone who wonders whether to ask somebody to read a short story, a poem, a play—
Even Emily Dickinson
sent her poems out to friends.