My wife is a great reader, but she's tough. She reads very slowly, extremely carefully, and calls me on pretty much EVERYTHING. Every goofy expression, every line of bad dialogue, every loose sentence. It's actually kind of funny, because even now, when we're watching TV and some ridiculous plot twist comes up, I'll turn to her and say, "You would NEVER let me get away with that." (I'm thinking of you, Lost. Seriously, your time-travel logic is all over the place.)
These edits aren't fun for either of us. I'll sit there, stewing, a fake smile plastered on my face, thinking, "OK, already, I got it. I get it. Is there anything you liked?! ANYTHING?" I start to argue, and then I force myself to shut up, and then I give myself some time to decide she's almost always right, and then I start rewriting.
But here's what I tell myself: she's just the beginning. I've also got a supportive-but-tough critique group to deal with, plus editors, and (hopefully someday, for fiction), readers. At times, it seems like the whole world has been given a free pass to criticize me pretty much whenever the mood strikes. Worse yet—at least for a guy like me, who lives to argue—there's no defense allowed.
I get it when people talk about "staying true to their vision" and all that. But the truth is, I think that's usually a shallow excuse to disregard valuable input. The time to stay true to your vision is when you're developing and writing the book. Once it's done, and once you've put it out there for consideration, it's not precisely yours anymore. Everyone who reads it will take a piece. A writer disregards and disrespects his or her audience at their own peril ...