I've talked a lot about my critique partner, and he and I continue to work together this summer (in fact, he just sent me a poem of his this afternoon.) Though I was very nervous about it, I sent him my novel. As I believe I've said before, I really trust his opinion, as he is not only a talented writer himself, but is willing to be honest with me.
I was in a wedding this past weekend, and while I was at the hotel, he and I were chatting over Facebook. I complained to him about how much I hated the intro of my novel- it's one of the last parts I wrote, and though I've fixed it up a lot, it's still clumsy and just bad. My friend wrote, "Do you want to know what I honestly thought of it?" "Yes," I replied. "It sucked. I'm sorry, it just sucked so much that I had to be blunt about it."
And while it seems blunt, and maybe it was... I wasn't upset. In fact, I smiled because I was glad he was willing to be so honest with me. I was fine with this all night. But the next day, the day of the wedding, I started freaking out. It was like I was going through the seven stages of grief.
Shock: A combination of "wow, that was a blunt way to put it" and "I can't believe I let people see that."
Denial: "It's not really that bad. My other reader liked it, so nyeh!"
Anger: "There's a ton of important information in there! I can't put it anywhere else! What does he expect me to do?!"
Bargaining: "I'm going to take the novel back, from both him and Chloe. Then they'll forget about it and it'll all be fine."
Depression: "I am a sucky writer. I will never be published. I've peaked with this crappy intro. It's all over."
Testing: "I'll rewrite it. It's not a big deal."
Except... instead of acceptance coming next, I just went backwards. I was in a complete tizzy. I wasn't mad at my friend at all- I'm still not. I was upset with myself.
He and I met up the other day face to face. I was so upset and embarrassed about the intro that it took everything in me not to cry as he talked it over with me. He was the true friend/critique partner that he is and helped me brainstorm ways to improve it. Then, he highlighted all four pages of the intro and hit 'delete.' I thanked him profusely and still tried not to cry.
I'm better today- still embarrassed that I let that writing see the light of day, but I'm saner :p I know I was upset because I really like the story and I want to publish one day in the probably far future. I need to accept that this might be another practice novel. That thought upsets me, but I know it shouldn't. TOSOL is only my second completed novel and I know published authors write practice novels, and most likely more than one. I'm being unrealistic.
I'm not giving up on TOSOL- I still love the book and I still want to work on it and I still want to get it published one day. Maybe it is a practice novel. Maybe I'll need to work on it for a decade or two before I can do anything with it. I don't know. I guess we'll see. But while my readers work on that, I've got a few other projects to keep me going! :)