So a week or two ago, I went to adjust my publications list and noticed the month and date on the very first story of mine that appeared in print: April 2006 (The Dreamweaver's Dispute in Leading Edge). That means as of sometime this month - I can't remember exactly when the magazine came out - I have been publishing short stories for four years.
Some great landmarks have happened with that: my first book signing (with the Sails & Sorcery anthology), my first reading (from "Hour By Hour" out of the Abyss and Apex Best of), other firsts - first poem, first flash - and a sale to semi-pro GUD. I wanted to be further along the path to novel publication by now, but I can't argue that there have been some great moments.
And I've discovered that I genuinely enjoy writing short stories, flash and poetry. I've relaxed enough about market requirements to write a novella (or novelette, depending on where, exactly, you break the word count). I started writing short fiction to gain credits for novel pitches ... now I've come to love it in its own right. Not a bad result at all.