Let me start with a fairy tale.
When a writer creates a book, they sit down and everything flows effortlessly from their fingers into a flawless, amazing, and detailed draft. Then it magically goes and becomes a book sitting face out in book stores everywhere, and, soon, a NYT bestseller.
Okay, once you all stop laughing/choking on your beverage of choice, I want to point out some folks do think it works that way. Even some WRITERS look at published books and think, “I can never be that good! Look at the crappy draft I created!” (And yeah, I see some of you nodding out there ;)).
Most of us know that’s not the case. And while some of us definitely write cleaner first drafts than others, we all need lots of editing, beta reading, wailing and gnashing of teeth, booze, etc. to get us through to a decent copy.
But it's good it takes a number of trips through fairyland to create a good book. We need to realize our book needs layers.
A little tangent here, I have found I LOVE coloring. In coloring books. Kids’ books, those “adult meditation/stress books” whichever- I just find it very relaxing.
And one of the things I love is the effect of layering colors over each other. The depth and texture changes when different shades are used, especially when different shades are used unevenly. Maybe I'm a bit more angry when I used the red over the green, perhaps feeling whimsical as I put gold over a few spots. But those layers change the impact of the color. Instead of a purple bulkhead, I now have a rusty, beat-up, multi-colored and textured looking bulkhead.
The same is true with all the passes we do with our writing. Whether they are structured edits, catching-up on where we left off reading, or just a "oh dang, what did I say back there?" followup, each time we touch our work we add layers. Little nuances, spins that weren't there originally, not because they were bad, but because we didn't notice when we were building the bones of the thing that a little bit of gold could add highlight, or deep purple could bring forth some depth.
So go forth and be proud that your first, second, eighteenth draft doesn't look like a book on the shelf yet--you're still layering. And I can promise that the book you're admiring didn't look that way many layers ago either ;).