I wrote a novella, which is not enjoyable to read even in a "so bad it's good" kind of way. I started a novel, and another. I submitted stories. Due to a mix of optimism and profound naivety, I submitted to places like The New Yorker and Harper's. Places where the manuscripts were probably transferred to the recycling bins so fast that they gave unpaid interns paper cuts. After a few years I realized just how ridiculous this strategy was and I broadened my horizons to include publications where a mortal being could conceivably be published. But by that time I'd gone to medical school, and then there was residency, and then there was fellowship, and my energy was fully absorbed into that enterprise. I submitted sparsely and sporadically, and entire years would go by where I didn't have the wherewithal write or submit anything at all. And besides which: who was I? Not a writer, since I had stopped writing.
I'd given up, and I don't mean to say that I was on verve of giving up, or that my resolve was wavering. My spreadsheet had only one outstanding submission still out there in the world, and it was more than a year old and probably the magazine had no intention of responding to it. At some point I annotated the submission with "presumed rejected." I closed the spreadsheet and forgot about writing, and many months went by. Then an e-mail popped up from Minna Proctor, editor of The Literary Review, apologizing for the delay and asking if that piece has still available and if I'd be interested in having them print it. This, of course, was of great interest to me.