Thanks everyone, this is useful. I’m especially intrigued by Lexi’s suggestion that I could be “focusing too much on the words and not on the story.” I actually never thought about it this way, but I do believe that’s absolutely right! Perhaps this is because most of my creative work has been in poetry/songwriting. I tend to get too much into the thickness of things (a la Flaubert, Proust) and usually lose my sense of direction.
Could it be as simple as that? I’m approaching fiction from the perspective of poetry…. Perhaps it’s a matter of directing my thoughts in a different direction and thinking about action, conflict, etc., while I write, and less on words. I need to digest this a bit, but it seems promising.