Question: Do you know when something you've written is good? Can you tell?
As long as I've been writing, I've been in a hurry to get something to an editor. Pretty much as soon as it's done, it's off and I'm on to another project (or lately, collapsed in a chair somewhere contemplating my naval.)
This comes home to me at the end of every book when I write a note to the editor to accompany the manuscript and it invariably says something along the lines of, "Please let me know if this works. I honestly can't tell. I can fix it if it doesn't, but I just don't know."
A story is such a wandering journey. So much of it is nuance. There's a fine line between saying too much and not saying enough. Add twisting plots, mysteries within mysteries, feelings darting all over the map, secrets, half truths and all the rest and it gets pretty dense inside a book, like traveling through the lightly wooded outskirts of a forest full of deciduous trees deeper and deeper until the evergreen trees are so thick they block the light. By the end of writing a book, that's where you've been, in the heart of the forest, and even though you've found your way out again, is it possible you left those who made the journey with you stranded inside?
I used to have my daughter read the completed book before I sent it, but she's busier now and besides, my editor has to read it, then the copyeditor and then me two more times before it sees print. I trust one of us will figure out if the beast has a heart, but who knows? Critique partners can be invaluable, but at the end of the day, it's one person's opinion, right? That's true for the writer, the editor, the agent, the reader. One opinion at a time.
So, do you know? Can you tell if your book is good? How?