I've heard back from the freelance editor that I hired. Unfortunately, it was not as positive as I had hoped it would be. She did have some excellent suggestions that will be easy to implement and will definitely strengthen the story, which I'm very thankful for. She also liked the ending, which is nice, since I *really* worked my arse off on it.
On the not so great side, she thinks that the middle is weak; specifically the crisis point - the point that the whole book turns on. On the bright side, she said that this is common with new writers. Back to the not-so-great side, some of her commentary makes me think I just haven't gotten my story across the way I wanted to, which is depressing after so much work.
I took about five pages of notes from our discussion, but my handwriting is cartoonishly gargantuan, so it's likely only about a page or so typewritten. (This was just a read-through, not a full edit.) That's not so bad, really.
I know that hiring freelance editors is sometimes seen as controversial, and I'll likely blog more about this in the future. From my perspective I think it can be a useful tool, particularly on a first novel, and particularly since the market is so competitive. I have other readers who are really excellent, and a few other reader/victims lined up to read the third draft, but they have to be nice to me, if they expect to come sailing with me. It's nice to have someone impartial take a run at it; kind of like novel-writer couples' counseling. (Right now, my novel isn't speaking to me, but I'm hoping to open up a dialogue.)
At the end of the day, I'm betting that this is a fairly normal part of the process and I just need to sit down and work out my problems. I guess that I just feel pretty discouraged right now. Things just don't seem to be going well generally, my laptop is almost unusable since I installed a new hard drive in it, and...well. You get the picture.
I'm going to focus on my third draft for the next 2 or 3 weeks, so I'll be bumping my posting down to Thursdays only for the next while. Of course, if it comes to light that Frey is going to write a new book about....anything, really - I'll definitely whip up some Estosnark.