I heard back from the beta readers and it was as bad as expected. My beta readers are smart-asses, spot-on with the sarcastic bon mot. They tore through the story and were so funny about it, I laughed and I laughed. I hurt and I (genuinely) laughed at the same time; it was a very weird feeling.
Then I got home and cried but it's because I'm not used to this yet. It was my first time going through a real beta reading done by critical readers who know what they're about. I've always written, but it was in little bursts concentrated inside short periods of time. The last burst was five years ago, before I got a computer, before I could competently surf the web, and there was no one around me back then both able and interested in commenting on my stories.
Also, I think those who read what I wrote in the past did not dare tell me how bad it was. It's a mental gearing to be able to honestly say to someone's face What you did is crap, especially if they're a friend. I wouldn't be able to.
I took notes. I think I'll put the most scathing comments on the wall, to whip myself into shape every time I sit down to write.
...I recently added a subtitle to this blog, something about stumbling my way through a story... it's gonna take months (if not years!!!) before I get a satisfying story... and it really is all about stumbling!!