Dread and Hate: There is a moment--usually brief--before I start writing that I am filled with dread and hate for the project. I have this vague, wispy idea of what it should be, and I know I'll never achieve the ideal, and so it sort of makes me sick to my stomach to think about writing it.
Falling in Love: Somewhere along the way, usually within the first fifty pages of the manuscript, I start falling in love with it. The words sing, the characters are vivid, and the story's zinging along.
Blind Love: ...and then I start having this sort of blind love for the project. I think every words perfect. I get very self satisfied. This feeling typically lasts all the way to when I write THE END...and as I stare at the whole manuscript, I have this sort of "this-is-the-best-book-ever-written-and-I-am-a-genius" sort of attitude.
I've learned, after years of trial and error and a ton of rejections, that this is NOT the time to submit a manuscript for publication. This is the time to submit a manuscript to peers for critique.
So, then I submit the manuscript for crits. And my feelings when I get back the critiques--which have NEVER said that the manuscript is perfect and I am a genius and deserve a cupcake--my feelings are this:
Anger and Denial: My initial reaction, no matter how much I love and respect my critique readers, is that they are WRONG. Wrong, wrong, wrong. And MEAN. And they're out to get me. So I usually read a crit, then give it a day before I feel...
Determination: I think this comes from my Southrn upbringing--I get this bull-headed attitude where I want to prove the critiquers wrong, and I'll write the best frexing book there ever was no matter how hard it is, so I pull up my boot straps and get to work.
Falling in Love...Again: When I get to the point where I've started to fall back in love with the manuscript--that's when I know it's ready. I no longer have blind love for it, I can see the flaws, and I can see the bandages I used to patch it up after I broke it down, but for the most part, I love it again.
And that's when I send it out.