Monday, April 24, 2006

Timely Ten

Ten Things About Writer Concepts of Time

1. A sec: A unit of time that equals approximately twenty minutes. Example: when a writer says I need to run into the bookstore for a sec, he means I need to run into the bookstore, stand in front of my shelf, face out my title, stare at it and chew on my lip.

2. Done: If followed by the sound of a head hitting a desk or monitor, the writer's book is finished and ready to mail out to the publisher. If not, the writer needs another week to work on it. Maybe two.

3. Fast: few writers use this unrealistic term, as it applies to nothing in the publishing industry.

4. Five minutes: The most common synonym used by writers for sixty minutes.

5. Forever: The precise amount of time it takes for an editor to read a proposal, an agent to return a phone call, a GOH to finish speaking or a first novel to be published.

6. Now: An expression of incredulous outrage a writer applies to any non-emergency request made of her in the middle of her writing time, i.e. You want me to do that now?

7. One Hour: The approximate amount of time it takes for a confident writer to type the first five words that follow the phrase Chapter One. For nervous writers, depending on the level of anxiety, see definitions for one month, one year and one decade.

8. Someday: An expression describing a point in the hopefully near future when the writer's most intimate fantasies will come true; the day when the writer will be wealthy, the day the writer will land a big contract, or the day the writer's worst enemy will get his or hers while the writer watches and consumes popcorn.

9. Tomorrow: The exact time when the writer will start or finish something not related to writing, or the much hoped-for ETA of someday.

10. Yesterday: A nebulous time frame a writer assigns to any accomplished task not related to writing the work in progress, i.e. What do you mean the grass is up to your hips? I just mowed the lawn yesterday.


  1. Anonymous12:48 AM

    For me, "someday" is when I'll finish editing my tome. Oy.

    But I caught up with all my housekeeping chores this weekend. Surely, that must count for something?

  2. Just emailed this link to the publicist at FACP (Hi Nyanda!)
    It'll help the publisher understand my time scales a bit better, so that's good news. Bad news is they'll probably send me their own time scale definitions which I'll like even less. (ie next week = now, next month = now, next year = now and twice as fast this time.)

  3. PBW, you need to stop reading my mind. ;)

  4. You absolutely nailed it, S; it's scary how you know these things. Are you sure you're not the Font of All Knowledge?

  5. Anonymous7:17 AM

    I always use "next year" as in - next year I will be finished my novel. Next year I will be finished my script. Next year I will be finished with my short story collection.

    I just know that next year one of those “wills” will actually happen - Likely the one where I leave my daughter all my worldly goods . . .

    So the race is on - published or peat moss.

  6. did you interview families of writers?

    My bratlet and the DH would soooooo agree with the definitions you've given for a sec, done and five minutes.

  7. All so true. So true.

  8. Anonymous10:47 AM

    Oh good. So I'm not crazy after all. ;)

  9. I have loved a lot of your posts, PBW, but this is the fairest one of all. Someday, I hope to be as funny as you are. Maybe next year...

  10. Anonymous12:58 PM

    I'm going to print these and frame them. *grin*

    And to think I just said "done", but my head didn't thunk onthe desk...and I know there IS more work to do on it. LOL

  11. So true.

    Especially no. 7.

  12. I've been led away from the direction of the book store before. They know my 'just a sec' in real time means all afternoon. ;)

    My timing works out like "Today, I'll finish all my work writing so I can finish editing the novel." But in reality it is "Today, I won't even finish my work writing, stress about it all night, get up super early the next morning and will be behind for a week and won't even think about the novel."

    This should be the Galactic Guide to REAL Time Concepts for Writers, REALLY.

  13. So relating to #2 right now...I need to get to the head hitting the monitor part.

  14. Does "next year" equate to "when hell freezes over"?

  15. I'm in the middle of dealing with a copy edited draft, so I can relate to this.

    But for me, just a sec stretches into hours and is the usual response to, "Hey, Rob, can you dump the trash?"

  16. Love it! These are all so true. "Just a sec" and "gimme five minutes" are my favorite to say, much to the annoyance of my family. *g*

  17. Thanks so much for that laugh :D. I needed it. Sadly, with everything else going on right now, someday is when my edit will be done :p. Except that sheer gumption better darn well get me through it by the end of May :D.

    Anyway, fun list and sadly so true. The only thing I found questionable was the 1 sec to 20 minutes...maybe in a bookstore, but if it's "I'll be there in a sec" for me it translates to numerous paragraphs and hours later ;).



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