Getting critiques on chapters of the novel has been the best thing I have done in a long time. They have helped me and my son see problems in the manuscript, while often providing possible solutions to them, as well.
The first round of critiques pointed out problems, some we already knew about in a general way and others we hadn’t seen yet. Then we made changes — not doing everything we were told in the critiques but accepting the broad strokes, at least.
Then came the second round of critiques on the first chapter. I was excited when I saw that I had gotten a couple. The first one, by someone who had read the earlier version, praised the difference between the two. She liked the detail, the description. The second, by someone who had not read the chapter before, had problems with there being too much description in some places, too much unnecessary information. And, of course, much of what she objected to was what had been added after the first round of critiques.
That’s when I really came to see that I need to learn to please myself. And in this case, my son, as well. While I don’t think we made any changes we didn’t agree with the first time, I know we aren’t go to make any that we don’t agree with in the future. No matter what we do or don’t do to the story, everyone is going to like parts of it better than others. No one is going to think it is perfect. All that really matters is that we think it is the best we can make it. And to do that, we need to learn to please ourselves.