Gradually, I heard one comment or two from friends who'd begun reading my book. One was taking her time, making notes about things, and rumor from her sister was that she was glad it was good. Whew. Even if it wasn't, I'm grateful to the core that she was taking the time to dig into it for me. But the very breath of it being good on any level made me soar. It gave me confidence that no matter how red-lined it might be at the end of a critiquing, I had something to work with.
Another friend finally had life settle down enough to open the pages she'd printed. Though she said the beginning was the roughest and we both agreed it needed some work, she hung the moon for me when she said she couldn't put it down.
This particular friend was my staunchest supporter, the one who pushed me to keep going, asked me "why" my characters did what they did, and lovingly took my millions of texts as I processed what I was writing and she read the tiniest snippets as I went along.
I quote the beloved text of her initial response here, (for my own record keeping, of course):
"I almost cried, I giggled, I tensed, was relieved, grinned like a fool. Yea. I'd say it has a breath and then some."
And then she said,
"There were so many things I loved about it....it was incredible to see how it fit together. I had no idea. It was awesome."
Yes, I'm tooting my own horn; yes, I also know it needs work. And above all, I know these are not words from an editor. But friends, these words gave me so much to fuel my love of my craft. I had not bored her to tears. My story had not been merely tolerated. It was enjoyed.
I have several others who have not read it or not finished it. I know a couple of them are truly planning to critique it, perhaps line by line. One of those is a college professor. I may be a crumpled heap before it's over, but for now I will float along and enjoy the boost that tells me I am meant to be writing.
For whatever reason, it's in my heart.