I have done it. I have completed the first draft of the ms. My CP has to tear apart the last chapter, I'll work on it plus the previous one over the next two days, and then Monday, right on schedule, I'll start the edits.
I am so relieved to at least know that I have reached the end, even though there is work to be done. It has been a hard week. Monday it seemed as though all I wrote was complete crap, the self-doubt demons had a party in my head and I was sure that I was just wasting everyone's time by subjecting them to this horrible attempt at storytelling. Convinced I would never get beyond mediocre to a story that stands out. (I'm still not convinced otherwise, but at least I'm not panicking about it now!)
Then, out of the blue, someone from e-harlequin offered to look at my ms and give me an overall impression. About an hour after that, I got an e-mail from an author in the line, asking if I'd like a second set of eyes to take a look - she'd spotted my first chapter in the Romance Junkies contest and liked the look of it a lot. I took her up on her offer and am very pleased with the results. I fixed the chapter where I'd gone wrong, feeling much better about it and my ability to actually revise something completely based on someone else's suggestions while still keeping true to the story I wanted to tell. Confidence somewhat restored. It's always a precarious thing, isn't it!
Which brings me to the subject of critiques. I have had some that raved and some that made me cry. LOL And by no means do I think anyone should enter into a critique relationship where the person looking at your work does nothing but tear it down and make it malicious. But harsh critiques are necessary...even, dare I say, GOOD.
Critique partners are there to make your work better, and as my regular CP said on Monday, sometimes it's "Time for tough love". What you will learn from having someone critique your work is up to you and how willing you are to open yourself up to it. You may learn that you need to grow a thicker skin, like I did at first. You may learn where your greatest strengths and weaknesses are, how to play to one and work on the other. And like I did Monday, sometimes you learn where taking constructive criticism ends and your own confidence and instincts take over. The chapter I revised is very much a blend of the two. The end result is that you will be a better writer...and in probably much less time than it would take you if you took the journey alone.