I had a minute to myself the other day, and skim read a couple of my failed stories, one of which I'd been quite proud of, and had sent for a critique.
I hated the way it read. Without the glowing halo of creation to gild it, it was clunky and stilted. I sounded pretentious and insincere.
I need to read through them all, and be hard and honest with myself - but not until the final one is submitted. I'm not sure that feeling discouraged would be the best way to psyche myself up to finishing that.
There will be a lot to learn.
What strikes me first and most obviously is that my voice sounds unnatural and self-conscious. It makes it hard to sink into the stories. Perhaps this is why I like writing novel length stories rather than shorts - because it gives me chance to lose myself.
The whole point of my challenge was to learn, though. So I'm going to have to study my work critically, and apply what I learn to improve myself. Wouldn't it be great if you could improve without ever having to face up to flaws? I'll have to make an effort to evaluate my stories as I would with a child at school, and make sure to notice a few positives to balance things out!