I think it's the fate of most any creator to never know what their work means to other people, but only to themselves.
I'm not the biggest fan of my own work. I find countless problems with it — it's too contrived here, it's too needlessly complex there, it's too removed from human behavior, etc. I have to stop myself from polishing it to death, and then I still find things wrong with it long after the fact. Whatever it is I'm aiming at, it always seems to be left of where I end up hitting. It always feels like there's too much of the story between me and whatever it is I'm trying to express. And so on.
I know on some level none of this matters, because other people will always take from your work whatever it is they see in it. Work I've been tremendously dissatisfied with has been a source of delight to some people; work I invested a great deal of care into ended up being received with indifference. But that doesn't mean I bear no responsibility; that doesn't mean I shouldn't hear out these inner dissatisfactions and try to heed what they have to tell me.
In the liner notes for Keith Jarrett's Vienna Concert is this phrase: "I have courted the fire for a very long time, and many sparks have flown in the past, but the music on this recording speaks, finally, the language of the flame itself."
That's a good summation of the direction I keep tacking in. I don't ever expect to get completely there, only to gradually lessen the distance between myself and whatever it is I keep trying to set sail for. I doubt it would ever be possible to land, and some part of me knows it isn't desirable, either; once you land, what else is there to do but set sail again anyway?
I know that my ambitions in this regard are faintly silly, especially when compared with the finished work. I see myself more as a comic figure than anything else, tripping over my own feet while trying to dance. But I'd rather try than not try.