Sure that first draft is exhilarating and breathtaking and full of creative leaps and jumps.
But where the true magic happens is in the revisions. And I should know. The story I'm working on now had it's beginning back when I was a freshman in high school. I still remember it. It was a crisp afternoon in October. My friend had been over for awhile and we'd been hanging out outside. When she went home I curled into the corner of the orange sofa, my clip board and paper on my lap. I think The Brady Bunch was on TV. And I wrote the first sentence.
"The limousine pulled up to the brick building."
At this point there have probably been over 30 revisions/versions of that story. A spin-off of that story was published last year: When Mike Kissed Emma.
Is my current WIP really still the same story I started so many years ago. No. At this point, of course not. The only similarities are the main character's last name and that she has wealthy parents and attends a boarding school - beyond that not the same (even the main character's first name has undergone several changes.)
Over the years I've submitted various versions of the story to agents or publishers. I've gotten close a couple of times. And each time I get a good rejection on it I rethink what I'm doing. And each "re-thinking" lands me a stronger story. So, I'm not willing to give up on this project yet.
Though when it does get published I kind of dread the question "How long did it take you to write?"
Mumblty-mumble years seems like kind of an embarrassing answer. Maybe I'll stick with how long it took to write the successful version.
But then again, maybe my trek through revision-land will be inspiring to people.
Ultimately what I've learned is to not be afraid to change things for the good of the story. And I think that's a worthwhile lesson.