I know the people who ask this question are trying to be nice and involved in my life, and I’m glad that they do ask for that reason. I just never feel able to produce a satisfactory answer.
I could try for literal, “I’ve written 500 words today and 5000 words since the last time I you asked.” Or I could go for dramtic, “I haven’t killed myself yet.” I could go for self-deprecating humor, “I haven’t killed myself yet, so better than the last one.” I could go for humor, “I outsourced the entire thing to China. They kicked out a great book in a few days, but now I need a translator.” Or I could go for polite, “Great! thanks for asking.”
I usually opt for polite, but any way you slice it, despite the long hours I spend on my work, I don’t feel like I’m doing much. Writing just takes a lot of perseverance and patience. According to the big pros, if nothing’s happened after a few years, stay the course, you’re not ahead of the pack, but you’re not lagging behind either. According to this survey by Jim C. Hines, 11 years is not a bad goal to shoot for.
So, I guess the moral of this story is that you should take time to have a glass of wine, relax, and enjoy life. Your big break might not even be on next year’s calendar.