The title phrase seems to be the most common bit of literary criticism that I've been receiving lately: "The story is good, but the execution feels rushed." "The setup is unique and the characters are very original, but it feels rushed as a whole." "It looks like the author wrote this in all of thirty minutes or less."
There's a deep, dark, dirty secret to that, of course, and it's the fact that my stories have been quite rushed lately.
I work a rather tough job, to start with, and I've taken on a couple of new roles in recent months. Unfortunately, my predecessors and colleagues are almost all located in North America, which means that I've had to stay up late at night for a lot of meetings. That, coupled with a spate of real-life deadlines, has left me with precious little time to conceptualize, plot, and lay out a story. It's really been a question of spending more time at the office and less time playing with my mind. (Yes, the two of them are mutually exclusive at times.)
In addition, most of my writing has taken place here on this blog. I write my "serious" stories — the ones geared towards printed publications and worthwhile contests — on Microsoft Word 2003, usually after two or three days' worth of agony and rewritten drafts. In contrast to those, my blog stories are more "throwaway": I write them up with considerably less effort, with no obligation to follow a word limit or any setting constraints.
This is not to say that the stuff I write on this blog is of lower quality, of course. I am merely admitting that I use this blog as a perpetual "free-mind" exercise. As a result, you will see far more stories on this web site than you will see under my name in various publications... with the trade-off being that I make no guarantees with regards to their quality of execution here. You will find a diamond in the rough every now and then, but the works on this site obviously can't all be gems.
However, that means that I need to take a step back and take a critical look at the situation. I know that I've spent a lot of time recently coming up with short stories on the fly — I mean, I have ten examples from last month alone — and I think that I might need to regain some "serious" writing time. Fortunately I have some vacation leave coming up as a result of our glorious end-of-year holidays, so I might spend some portion of that trying to catch up on my old habits.
My recent "by-the-seat-of-my-pants" phase hasn't been a total loss, though. I suppose that I now know that I can wing it when the deadlines come knocking at my door. However, it's easy to fall into the trap of waiting till the last minute in order to write, and I suspect that I've been pushing that limit for a while now. It's literally time for me to sit staring at the computer screen for long hours again, knowing what it's like to agonize over the perfect phrase. And hey, I'm cool with that. Anything for me to improve, really.
And with a little luck, I'll get better reviews and see print in more venues next year. Like that's going to happen anytime soon. :)