I think possibly writing is much like these first trips. The first draft is always hesitant and jerky, good in parts but poorly put together. The second draft is where the jerky patches get smoothed out and the holes filled in. Then the third and fourth draft improve the basic story and the writing should become smoother and more "in voice."
I have observed that American writers (and likely their readers) prefer short, punchy sentences and fast moving stories. I think agents and publishers in this country prefer a something smoother, more literary in style - perhaps that's what they mean when they make comments like the writing is good but it didn't make my heart sing, it didn't blow me away....it could be that the story itself just isn't strong enough, too. There are so many imponderables to consider in writing. I may learn more at the Writing Conference in Newcastle tomorrow. People like Nicola Morgan will be there to tell us how it should be done! I for one will be all ears.