Getting that Sharp Shot

I, presently, have that feeling that I really need to get back to some basics with my limited photography abilities I don't seem to be able to get that sharpness I used to get in my photos a while back, so I decided to do a bit of practice on some random things at home. Weirdly enough it was the very first photo I took that came out the best and the sharpest without any editing at all. I left that one as it was taken, just cropped it a bit. I know it can be improved with some editing but this is just an ''exercise'' so I left it to use as one of my photographs shown below. After that I used different settings and none of the photos I took could I say I was really satisfied with. My conclusion at the end of the entire thing was do not trust what you see on the camera after taking the photo cos it looks totally different on the computer screen. The other thing, which I think is far more important, is the results from editing an underexposed picture are much better than an overexposed picture.
Nearly all photos you see nowadays, especially the crystal clear amazing ones, look like that because some pretty advanced editing techniques have been used. Do I want my photos to look like that.....of course! BUT I don't think the satisfaction can be the same as taking a picture of something, someone, anything, then looking at it up on the screen and seeing the natural clarity without having to edit (or am I wrong?). This tends to be quite a controversial subject I know - the same as HDR is - since editing is so much part of modern day photography, but....................
Below are my practice shots - pretty pathetic and subject is random, whatever I had to hand at the time.

Sharpening and small adjustments

A lot of editing
A little editing
Totally unedited