Given Tolkien’s current fame, and the obvious quality of his work, I find this statement amazing, and very telling about the power of encouragement:
“I have never had much confidence in my own work, and even now when I am assured (still much to my grateful surprise) that it has value for other people, I feel diffident, reluctant as it were to expose my world of imagination to possibly contemptuous eyes and ears. But for the encouragement of C.S.L. I do not think that I should ever have completed or offered for publication The Lord of the Rings” (J.R.R. Tolkien to Clyde S. Kilby, 18 December 1965, in The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien, ed. by Humphrey Carpenter [Houghton Mifflin, 2000], 366).
I wonder what other masterpieces throughout history were never finished or published simply because the author lacked a friend to encourage him/her.