Do You Love or Hate Your Current Novel?

I've become substantially more knowledgable about writing and the writing process over the last year, and one thing I keep reading really sounds odd to me.  Let me paraphrase:

"At some stage in almost every novel-length work, the author feels like the work product is crap."

Really?  I'm currently working on the first draft of my fourth novel, and I can honestly say, I've never had that reaction.  And I wonder if the observation is even true -- if you hate the work at some stage, then certainly you'd have a tough time ever finishing it.  Yet there are tens of thousands of novels "finished" every year (here I'm using the author's own definition of finished, which in most cases would not be a publisher's definition).

Here is my typical emotional arc in the story process.

I get an idea I'm enthusiastic about, and in my mind plot the broad strokes and think about the underlying theme.  I'm usually pretty excited with the project at this stage.  I've got a project right here right now -- bubbling in the back of my mind, and I can't wait to get after it.

I do detailed plotting and character development.  I love the plot development part, and character development is okay, but a little tedious (do I really care what a secondary character's favorite song is?).  This work takes some time, but by the end, when I'm laying out the scenes, I'm anxious to get this segment of the project done and move on to the writing.  By then I've usually got the opening of the novel in mind, and although I know of a few plot issues, I'll fix them as I go.

Then I take a thirty, sixty or ninety day break and work on something else.

Next it's the first draft -- my absolute favorite part of writing.  During this part, all kinds of ideas occur to me and are incorporated into the bigger picture.  I write witty dialog, I make a character have a tragic past, I alter the plot to include a surprise co-conspirator.  All of these little innovations keep me excited as I write.  But...

By the time I finish the first draft, sometimes I worry that it's a bit rough, and might take A LOT of editing to whip into shape.  And by the end, I usually recognize a number of problems in the body of the work -- a loose end that needs to be tied off, inadequate descriptions of places (I hate slowing down plot development to describe a setting or a person in flowery detail), maybe a motivation that just doesn't seem reasonable for the character.  If I could ever be said to have doubts about the work, it is at this stage.  So...

I take another thirty, sixty or ninety day break and work on something else.

Then comes my second favorite activity in the writing process.  I do a fast end-to-end read through of the manuscript, keep big picture notes on a yellow pad.  I try to read the work like a reader would, and note the things that just seem wrong, or lack clarity.  So far, I've always been surprised with how well the first draft ACTUALLY reads!  It's a wonderful feeling to know I didn't just invest all that time in developing crap!

Then I do a detailed edit, starting with page one, and fix as many of the grammatical, usage errors, and the like as I can find, as well as correcting those big picture items.  It usually takes me a few weeks to plow my way through the manuscript.

Then another break.

Then I repeat the editing process again.  At least once.  Sometimes more.

Now I'm ready to show the work to some readers.  I let them work their way through the document, just as if they had bought if from Amazon.  I take their advice and consider it -- but don't always make all the corrections or changes they recommend.

Usually, by this time, I consider the novel "done".  Not that there won't be any further changes to it, but I'm at least happy with it in the form in which it currently exists.

With my first novel, I hired a professional editor to then take a pass, and I hand corrected everything he found, keeping ninety percent of the recommended changes (and there were a lot of them).  That was a very valuable process, and I learned about a number of my blind spots -- everything from making my female characters sound too male, to massively overusing the word "that".  Will I need an editor on my other novels?  Yes, I'll use one if I self-publish or if my agent recommends I do so.

But during the process, I never hate or even mildly dislike the project.  In fact, the worst feeling are a bit of impatience to be finished, or a little doubt about how big an editing task I might have.

So what causes an author to hate their project?  I haven't a clue.