Monday, January 28, 2013

Time, the Only Thing You Can’t Make Up

By Laura Spinella

We could each write a character with pristine time management skills. In fact, I’m working with a guy right now who is an incredible specimen of man and management. Levi St John is the composite of a shrewd, buttoned-up editor-in-chief I used to call boss, and the sexy geek-god I rode an Orbit bus with every day to North campus but never really knew. Levi’s outer shell, well, that’s wrapped in Tony Robbins confidence.  You know, the iron jaw motivational guru who, I suspect, but don’t know for sure, harbors some critical flaw. Levi’s flaw is his past, but his current time management skills are stellar.
Sadly, Levi has to rely on my time management skills for his next breath. And in this effort, I’m afraid I fail him miserably. If I did work for Levi (which metaphorically I suppose I do), he’d have fired me months ago. But I think that’s standard fare for authors who write books and don’t earn a living from them. My typical day gets divided into thirds. How about yours? Part one is spent running this house and the beings who reside inside. You know how that goes. I’m not whining, but I am responsible for everything from trips to the veterinarian to the dry cleaner, as well as deciding what’s for dinner 365 times a year. Yes, even the much frequented Rancho Chico is a decision, one that generally falls to me. Complicating this third is that pesky child rearing thing, which runs on no manmade timepiece. While we’re on the downside of the hill, and my crew toes-the-line for the most part, you never know when a crisis will arise. It’s guaranteed to knock the Levis of my life right off the radar until all has been averted or resolved.
            The middle portion of my day is dedicated to a multitude of other authors and their needs. For the past year, I’ve worked for AuthorBytes, a very cool web-developer. As time goes, I’m fortunate in this respect. I only have to switch from the computer in the sunroom to the computer in the study. After arriving, I tend to a cornucopia of tasks, everything from assisting in the redesign of a website to showing one of our 500 clients how to navigate the inner workings of their website. It’s an interesting gig for a girl who stumbled through blog posts when she joined GBC two years ago. Seriously, who knew I had untapped mad computers skills? Well, that’s sort of a fib. My co-workers, aka computer wizards, don’t really ask anything that requires too much computer literacy. Mostly, I was brought on board to translate. Suggest to the tech folks how authors might see things, and to guide authors through the treacherous but necessary minefield of web technology. Still, it’s a singular job with fun perks, like rubbing elbows with New York Times bestselling authors.  Although, I also enjoy chatting with our first-time, nervous-Nellie clients—I once knew somebody like that! The chance to pay-it-forward is more gratifying than I might have imagined. But hours during this third can be erratic. If something big is brewing, I must defer to AuthorBytes, just when I’m on the brink of a major plot point between Levi and Aubrey (love interest whose skill set, while intriguing, also does not include good time management). Again, he, his story, and his developing love life are sent to the back of the line.
Gratuitous Seussical photo of Grant (center)
            Finally comes the last third of my day, which is really the first third. It can begin as early as 5:30 a.m., though cutoff is noon sharp. But even here time management can take a beating. For reasons I suspect writers can relate to, it is excusable to abandon a WIP if the insurance man I’ve been trying to get a hold of for days calls at 10:00 a.m., or, God forbid, my editor emails. If Grant, my 15-year old, forgets his biology textbook, you know I’m leaving Levi mid-thought to run it up to the high school. Of course, that was a purely facetious example, as Grant would never purposely call asking for his biology textbook.  But things will go my way eventually, including a string of days, usually two or three rainy ones, where it’s nose-to-the-grindstone writing. Interruptions are avoidable and I walk the romantic linguistic walk that writers’ dream of, or at least embellish to their friends. No, time management is not my strong suit; I am a greased hourglass in that regard. I have no spunky or foolproof advice to offer. But what I will have, maybe late this fall—despite the lack of regimented writing—is a decent draft. The one where Levi St John’s story will be told and, hopefully, book number three will be well in hand.       

Laura Spinella is the author of the award winning novel, BEAUTIFUL DISASTER and the forthcoming title-pending Penguin novel, for which we may soon hold a GBC suggestion contest! Visit her at     


  1. Great post. I especially like the domestic piece--as one who meal plans for 365 dinners!

    1. Thanks, Samantha! Kind of makes you dread leap year, right?

  2. Fabulous, says the person who just left her hero hanging off a rock face to book her son's dentist appointment…

  3. LOL, tension for the reader & writer!!