Did you active the "On demand" mode through PowerShell ?
On-Demand Page Propagation
A setting has been added (configurable through the Object Model) to disable Automatic Page Propagation. When the setting is enabled, publishing or approving a page on the source variation site will not cause that page to be copied to any target variation sites. The "Automatic Creation" setting will be ignored for pages. "Update Variation" and "Create Variation” are the means by which a user can distribute content across the Variation hierarchy on-demand.
$site = new-object Microsoft.SharePoint.SPSite("http://yourserver/sites/abc")
$folder = $site.RootWeb.Lists["Relationships List"].RootFolder
I never encountered this with variation but to avoid the "draft issue" (I assume you're working with SP2010 as 2013 is offering much more settings regarding this) I heavily recommend to work with an additional "Source" variation. This source variation (nearly always named "source" on my installations) is used by the contributors to define the structure and the common content of each pages (eg: categorization, rollup image, custom settings, url), the rest is done on each child variations (title, content insertion) and will never be updated if they don't change the source which has no other purpose than acting as the initial content creation variation. I adapt the security on that variation so that only contributors can access it (for regular visitors / members / anonymous they will never see it, neither know its existence). It's a win win situation even more when you have a bunch of contributors that are not talking the same language and would, by default, be redirected to the child variation associated with their browser language settings if you didn't change the variationroot logic.
Anyway, If you have to do serious work with variation, be sure to read this : http://blogs.technet.com/b/stefan_gossner/archive/2011/11/14/sharepoint-variations-the-complete-guide-part-1-the-basics.aspx. All chapters are priceless.