I've been working on the second draft of a novel for a few months now, and I knew going into this rewrite that the last third of the manuscript was problematic. I wasn't quite sure how it needed to change, just that it did. My hope was that by cleaning up the first two-thirds, the rest of the story would come together in a new and exciting way.
While I still don't have a clear path to the end, I can say with certainty that the mess is a little less muddled. When writing something new, it's quite easy to loose track of which themes are the crucial ones and which are just curiosities that intrigued me as I went along. Second drafts are good for that. They focus you on the core elements of the story and guide it along in a concise way that makes for better reading.
As I enter this last phase, I'm feeling confident. Often my initial distaste for a first draft stems from too many tangents. Snipping them away in a clean fashion usually produces the results I'm looking for.