Watching Simon Cowell dissuade some of the American Idol contestants is extremely funny. Sometimes, though, it's also very painful. Cowell gets criticized all of the time for being too mean, too coarse, too much of a dickhead. In reality, however, he's doing those people a favor. If you can't sing, have no hope of being able to sing, and aren't willing to take lessons and "come back next year," then you need to be told that you suck so you can give up and do something else with your life.
So begs the question, what the fuck were those people doing trying out in the first place? Well, they were likely done a great disservice by people they thought were friends. I'm talking mothers, siblings, drinking buddies. These people likely told those American Idol rejects "No, you really can sing."
Assholes all, I say.
I'm a writer. I'm also somewhat of a musician. And while it's important to know what your potential audience is going to think of your work, I discovered a long time ago that in order to get a really accurate and honest appraisal of your work, you need to ask other writers, other musicians, producers, editors. Basically, other professionals.
Except for those unfortunate enough to have really mean parents, your mother is always going to love your work. "Oh, baby, that's so good. You should try to get this published." And therein lies the danger of familial encouragement... your mother probably doesn't know shit, and is the last person you should be asking an opinion of.
Same goes with your girlfriend. And your friends in general.
In fact, stooping so low as to ask your regular buddies for opinions of your work is probably an indication that your own subconscious thinks your "art" sucks. And if that's the case, it's time you thought about doing something else.
The only thing worse than getting an opinion from a drinking buddy or a significant other is asking a friend that is qualified, and being lied to. Seriously, if you're a writer, and your friend's writing sucks, you need to tell him or her that. Feelings can't be spared in today's art and entertainment industries. There is just too much competition. Is making someone feel better now, only for that person to realize they suck later, really worth sparing heartache? Lives are wasted that way.
My girlfriend likes my poetry, she really does... but only because she has to.