I recently had to put together a portfolio of my work so that I could apply to graduate schools. This involved re-listening to recordings and re-editing scores from the past four to five years. If you've ever unearthed an old essay and decided to read it, you may understand the feeling of simultaneous novelty and nausea this type of self-reflection can induce.
But despite the "I can't believe I was stupid enough to ..." and the "this could have been so much better if ..." I found that listening to and reading my music was rather rewarding. I am now sufficiently removed from the pain-and-suffering part of most of these pieces, to the extent that I can actually listen to them. No need to recall how horrific a struggle that passage of counterpoint was, no need to dwell on the voicing of that chord — I can judge this music as music now.
I've found, happily, that I enjoy my own music.
This is important for two reasons that I can immediately see, and these are the the primary things I'm interested in sharing with the world:
First, if I enjoy my music now, I am doing some things right when I compose. I set out to write combinations of notes and rhythms and timbres that I like, and if I do like the music that is produced, I am at least catering to my own taste. Which is a good thing, I think.
Second, and maybe most significantly, listening to and reading my music allows me to remember the best part of composition (in my mind) — the tiny victories of discovery. This is the special thing that only a creator gets when experiencing work he or she created. And it's the reminder of those tiny sparks of special self-assurance that keep creators going.