Well, I did indeed start editing it (again) this week, and it turns out it actually sucks.
Yep. There is suckage. It's slow (I knew it was slow; didn't think it was this slow), kind of histrionic in places, has too many characters, too much plot, too many dead ends and internal logic that's only logical if by 'logical' you mean, 'ridiculous'. I feel like I should apologize to everyone I've ever sent it to. (wpadmirer, you are a better friend than I knew.) Obviously when my agent said a big part of the reason he took me on was my willingness to accept suggestions, he really wasn't kidding. It sure as hell wasn't the book.
Naturally this is kind of disappointing, though sadly not as much of a surprise as I would've hoped. I spent a long time--too long; way, way too long--on this fucking thing and put a lot of effort into it (though not in the right places, apparently), and I like the characters and at least some of the ideas. So to have it come to nothing is pretty sad. I suppose it shows how much I've improved as a writer since my late 20s, but I was hoping the difference wouldn't be quite this dramatic, you know?
I could salvage it by losing at least eight characters and basically rewriting everything else, but maybe it's just time to give it up as a bad job and set it aside once and for all. I have plenty of other ideas, and now I even know how to write an outline.
I haven't erased the novel, though. I'm not quite ready to do that. Maybe one day I'll be known enough as an author that it'll be publishable. Or maybe years from now I'll open the file again and have a good laugh, or cry, or just smile and finally put it in the recycle folder. Or maybe I'll print it out; we could always use more scrap.