10th Anniversary Feature: Barrie Summy

In celebration of the ten-year anniversary of, I asked some
first-time authors the following question:

As a debut author, what are the most important lessons you’ve learned about your craft, the writing life, and/or publishing, and why?

Here’s the latest reply, this one from author Barrie Summy:

I learned a very, very important lesson this past year as a debut author.

I have a problem.

It’s called time management.

There it is, folks. I’ve admitted it. It’s on your screen. And zipping around cyberspace. Miss Muklowska, my first grade teacher, might even see it.

If only there were more than twenty-four hours in a day and more than seven days a week. And more weeks in a month. And more…

Where do the seconds and minutes and hours trickle away to?

Cyberspace. I spend way, way too much time online. I love the blogsphere and research and email and marketing and classes and just meandering from link to link.

Revising. I love to revise. Over and over and over. I’m never done. I could fiddle and tweak and change this word for that forever. The thesaurus is my BFF.

Outlining. I’m a huge outliner. I keep a recipe box per book. The box has dividers for the major plot points. Whenever I have an idea for a scene or a description or a little detail, I jot it on a note card (love those colored and lined note cards!) and plop it in the box according to where it would probably fit in plot-wise. Then I painstakingly type up the contents of the box.

The Rest of My Life. Because somewhere in the midst of all this is a family—a husband and four kids and a veiled chameleon and Dorothy the Dog. Not to mention scads of sports activities and music lessons, and, oh yeah, homework, and friends, and cooking and laundry and…

Yikes! I have to write another book!

Enter the Class of 2k8.

We’re an online group of 27 debut middle-grade and young-adult writers from a variety of publishing houses who banded together for marketing purposes. We’ve ended up becoming great friends. Who share the ups and downs of life as a debut author.

And guess what? I’m the baby of the class (in terms of pub date, that is!). Which means I get to watch my classmates navigate the publishing experience before me.

And see just how much there is to juggle!

And learn how they’re managing their time.

And get a sense of what’s coming at me from down the pike.

And it all helps. Tremendously.

Not saying I don’t still have time management problem.

But now it has a name.