I too have left fiction, and then been pulled back in by it, for reasons only a little different from those you describe. For years, I put stock in only academic research & theory as a way of learning about reality. In grad school, I was disappointed by the biases and oversights of my peers and mentors often enough that I turned to fiction again.
I don’t write fiction as much as I did in the years following that revelation. Essays connect with more readers on platforms like this. But I think that’s really unfortunate. Short stories will always be my greatest artistic love. Thanks for this superbly crafted reflection.