"I measure time
by how the body sways."
--Theodore Roethke

There is no measure--fortunately or unfortunately.  At least, there is no useful measure.  Rilke, for example, in his
Letters to a Young Poet, says something to the effect that, to a writer, ten years are nothing and one moment is everything.  We recognize and appreciate what that means in our writing.  But it is harder to recognize and appreciate that in the publication and success of our work.  Even more pragmatically, we have to eat.  So, this issue of our work catching on somewhere becomes a paramount question.

  • ADVICE. Regardless, there is no answer.  The harder you work, of course--in theory--the sooner something should reasonably happen, but not always.  We look at those around us and are flabbergasted and perhaps frustrated when someone else's manuscript gets picked up just like that, without any work on their part at all, save maybe a single contest entry.  We might be tempted to question ourselves, our purpose, and the quality of our work.  In doing that, depression follows, and following depression comes writer's block.  And so the vicious circle--a circle more like an electric saw blade with big teeth--begins, and we tear ourselves up.
  • Questioning and reappraising your work is not a bad thing, if you can find a healthy way to do it, and understand that you should be doing this anyway as a matter of course for yourself.  But questioning your creative soul, that's another thing altogether.  If this work you are doing is what you want and need to do, the only way to move is forward, even if it sometimes feels like falling.