It almost happened again.
Here, in brief, is the story of my writing. Years ago, I decided professional writing was what I wanted to do. For now I'll spare you the previous things I wrote that led me to believe I had I shot. Feel free to insert here the usual "If I only had the times," and the "I can write better than that's" of many like-minded young writers.
I wrote a short story. If memory serves it was around 2500 words and took three months. And oh, it was horrid. I knew something was wrong with it, but couldn't figure out what or how to fix it. So, I submitted it for publication to Fantasy & Science Fiction.
It was promptly rejected, and rightly so. The editor even wrote a nice personal letter explaining why it was rejected. He (or she, I don't remember and the letter disappeared long ago) advised me to keep writing. Had I taken the advice this journey may not have taken so long.
I didn't know how. Writing fiction was much harder than I'd realized. Practice? Ha! That was for "lesser writers." I just couldn't think of another good idea. (Or a more original excuse.) So I quit.
Fast forward. Two other times I picked up the pen and put it down again. Fortunately, both times I realized that I'd actually have to work at the craft, but even then I believed there were shortcuts. Someone who reads as much as me should be able to write better. I still felt (to dwindling degrees, but it was there) a sense of entitlement.
Twice more when the writing (and in the later instance, life itself) grew difficult I put the pen down.
Now the present. I've been writing every day. I'm open to learning. When a deficiency becomes apparent (I loathe building the setting) I work to improve and write outside my comfort zone (my last story was built around a particular setting. To my surprise, my first reader said that the characters were better than any previous story.)
I have multiple submissions out. (Eventually I may move to indie publishing, but I tried that as a shortcut too. I don't want to indie publish because my work is so bad an editor won't but it.)
And then the last two days happened. The brick wall smacked me hard in the face. With my latest story submitted (and the first rejection letter just arrived) I wasn't sure what to write. I had three story ideas that seemed promising, but discarded them for various reasons. I started one, but it didn't seem good enough. Maybe I'd write tomorrow. But that path leads to not writing anymore.
What is that rule? "Finish what you write"?
I'm finishing it. Either it will be good practice that improves my skill but doesn't sell, or it will be good practice that improves my skill and sells. After a few hundred words the story began to intrigue me again. Usually I at least think I know what will happen, but this time I have no clue and it's constantly surprising me.
I suspect the beginning will have to be tweaked once it's finished. And I have no idea whether or not it's good. But I'm writing it. I'm finishing. And I'm repeating.
Writer's write. I think I'm truly becoming one.