Never, in a million years, did I think I would enjoy criticism this much. Throughout my life, I have avoided criticism like the plague. Two strategies: 1) Don't do things you suck at, and 2) If you do, or you think you do, don't ever let anyone see. Those strategies worked for a long time...and then came everyone's recommendations of *gasp* critique groups and *double gasp* beta readers.
(This isn't a description of my beta journey, though the mental processes involved are interesting - and, I think, helpful - enough to make a later blog post, so I'll spare you. Suffice it to say, I now have an amazing beta reader.)
We've been exchanging chapters back and forth. She's noted the good, the bad, and the ugly. I winced, took it with a smile, gritted my teeth, and rewrote.
The story's better. Seriously. I stopped yesterday and went, "Wow. She was right." It's better.
Saturday, I got an email with more critiques. And something weird happened. Instead of dreading opening the file, I wanted to know what she had to say. I wanted to see how the story was going to improve because of her comments. I wanted the criticism.
Dude. It's one of the best feelings in the world. (Especially when you're looking for criticism and she comes out of nowhere and mentions that she liked the kiss scene, which you were SO worried about because you've actually never kissed anyone, and aren't you supposed to write what you know, but you didn't ask her about it for fear she'd notice it, and then she goes and points out that she liked it! Ah! I was grinning and making very idiotic noises in my house, prompting the concern and eye-rolling of my parents. But it was worth it.)
So. Go out. Find a critique partner. Let them read your book. Let them say whatever they want about it, too. And if you're afraid, like I was, let me tell you that's it's so much more than worth it. You'll start to crave criticism, because you know what it can do. :) And that, my friends, is a lovely feeling.