Wow. I just finished reading a 186 page novel--and it's the one that I wrote.
The best thing is that I enjoyed reading it. It's been nine months or so since I put it aside, so much of it wasn't readily familiar (though, of course, I still remembered the main plot points.) I liked seeing little bits of my life and experiences that I'd forgotten I'd put in there. You never know, when you're friends with a writer, what little details they'll latch onto and include in their next piece. :)
I did find a few big problems to fix, and TONS of small fixes. I'm wordy in first drafts, and I'm fully aware of this fact. I allow myself to be wordy so I can just get the first draft on the page, and I figure that's what editing is for. I made a lot of corrections on the paper manuscript I printed out and read to my infant son while he was nursing, and now I'm faced with the job of putting them all in the document. I think I'll have to work backwards too--otherwise the page numbers and reference points will all get messed up after just a few chapters.
My biggest fix is that I invented a new piece of technology about a third of the way into the story, and it really ought to be mentioned earlier--several times. But that's what comes from writing on the fly instead of outlining. However, despite problems like that, I think that writing on the fly worked well for me. I may try to outline my next novel, just to see which technique I like better, but I have a feeling that I will prefer to ditch the outline method.
The problem I now face is figuring out how to make time for writing again. For the last month it's been easy: read/edit the novel while nursing the baby. Now that that part's done, I'll need to figure out stretches of time where I can sit in front of a computer again--not easy since Zaxxon is attempting to give up naptime and doesn't like to respect the rules of "Quiet Time." But I'll work something out.
I wrote a novel!