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Wasting Time

I turn on the television when cook. I don’t pay much attention to the broadcast, it just keeps me company while I work. Sometimes I catch snippets of what one talking-head or another says, but mostly it’s just background noise. The other night, while whipping up a stir fry, I caught a phrase that caused me to set down my spatula. The commentator said, “That guy has too much time on his hands.”
Too much time? I thought. Is there any such thing?
There’s something about that statement that’s always struck me as odd. I would argue that there is no currency more valuable than time. Consider the language we associate with time: we can save it, spend it, manage it, budget it and waste it. There are only so many hours in a day and we’ve all got a limited number of days on this planet. Shouldn’t any person with a surplus of this precious commodity be considered wildly rich?
And yet, when someone is said to have “too much time,” it’s never noted with a tone of envy or admiration. It’s almost always an accusation. It occurred to me that what’s really being said is, “That person is not spending their time the way I would.”
Before I started writing full time, I had a 9-to-5 office job. I was working on my novels at night and the subject would sometimes come up around the water cooler. A co-worker once said to me, “I never read fiction. My time is too valuable to waste on books that don’t give me something I can use.”
Passive-aggressive intent aside, I couldn’t help but follow up. I asked my peer, “But, you watch movies, right? Not just documentaries, but romantic comedies and dramas?” She confirmed that she loved to kick back with a good comedy – but that was different.
“Different how?” I pressed. “You will let yourself be led down the primrose path of cinematic fantasy in which every nuance is visually laid out for you and allow yourself to be spoon fed a storyline, but you won’t read words that accomplish the same end?” Okay, I didn’t put so fine a point on it, but that was the gist.
She countered by ticking off her recent reading list of non-fiction books. I recognized the titles as manuals on time-management, career development and sales techniques. I agreed that these were worthwhile reads - I’d read many of them myself. To be clear, this wasn’t a conversation about personal preferences, different strokes for different folks and the like. This was about one person asserting that her time was more valuable than anyone else’s and, furthermore, she knew how everyone’s hours should be spent. Reading was not a pleasure – it was an obligation.
I think this is a logical place to interject that – by her own admission - this woman had an extreme deficit in the “time” column of her life. She had no time to clean her own house – she hired out for that. She had no time to buy her own clothes – that’s what personal shoppers are for. She had no "Free Time" – even on vacation she was tethered to her laptop, Smartphone, and voicemail so that she could continue to feed the Salary Beast.
I’d walked away from that conversation feeling wounded. In proclaiming that reading fiction, especially romantic fiction, was a colossal waste of time, my co-worker had tried to diminish my value. I wrote the stuff, for Pete’s sake!
That encounter gnawed at me for months. But, given a little distance and time, I was able to gain some perspective. It dawned on me that she didn’t really believe that I was wasting time reading and writing romantic fiction. She was lashing out because she was green with envy that I have something she does not – time to read for the sheer joy of it – and that makes me very rich indeed.
I am grateful for the people who budget a little time to get lost in my books. I know every hour is valuable, and I’m glad we can spend some of them together. If you’ve not yet read my paranormal erotic romance series - Ghost Encounters - now is the perfect time. Book 1 “Soldier of Love” and Book 2 “A Triple Scoop of I Scream” are out now. Book 3 “Stage Fright” will be released May 20th.

Happy Reading, Darlings. Here’s wishing that you always have too much time on your hands!
xoxo ~Gabrielle

COMING 20 May 2013


Barbara Elsborg said...

Oh for too much time! It's how to stretch the 24 hours in a day that's my problem. I'd love more time to read. Forget the cleaning!

Molly Wishlade said...

Hey Gabrielle! I love this post! Time is just so precious. I currently work full time teaching, have two wonderful children, four bearded dragons and an amazingly understanding husband! I teach all day, get home and feed the family, throw in some washing, pack lunches for the next day... You get the idea, lol! Then once I've read my angels a story and tucked them into bed, I write. It's hard when I'm exhausted but it's working! My debut novella is coming in the summer with TEB and I'm so excited!!!
Time for reading is extra special and it comes at the end of everything else - when I curl up in bed at night or grab half an hour here and there. It's luxury time and switch off time and anyone who doesn't read is missing out!
You're on my TBR list chick!
Molly x

Gabrielle Holly said...

Congrats on your TEB debut, Molly! I wrote my first books at night while working full time... NOT with two little ones though. Kudos, darling! Keep doin' what you're doin'!
Hugs, Gabby