I have decided that having other people critique your writing is like working out in public in spandex pants. It takes a nice ass, bravado, or, failing those, a knack for avoiding mirrors to make it through the first time. Depending on what kind of gym you go to, spandex is probably easier--at the Y we belong to, no one is scrutinizing every bump, or offering suggestions for improvement.
I freshened up my intro to my novel and submitted it to my fiction class for our final project. And the feedback I got was helpful, and actually pretty encouraging. The parts that got the most attention were the sections that had received the least attention, and it really helped me understand why I wasn't satisfied with the end of the piece. My first draft of it, from last November, was written almost exclusively from my heroine's POV, and this rewrite included a lot more of the hero's, especially in the opening scene (it's a lot more exciting to be riding the horse during a joust than sitting bored in the stands...). But the very end retained most of my first draft, and so his voice was lost. That is probably why I wasn't happy with how it left off.
I was also quite happy to hear one of my classmates say that she was sad for the couple at the ending, because she really wanted it to work out between them. Our instructor knew that it was the intro for a longer work, but I don't know that anyone else realized that. That comment gives me hope that this is a story that someone would want to continue reading, to see if these two people can ever get together.
Also, I now have at least a draft for the concluding scene of my novel. I had a different ending written last fall, but I didn't like it. This one could use work, but I think I have at least the plotline mostly right. Ok, so I have a beginning and an ending, I guess I have a lot more work to do on the middle, huh.