I had a day-long meeting in Auckland yesterday (I know: Sunday. It’s a writer’s life…). A lot of my meetings these days are online or conference calls. It’s efficient but lacks the extras: the ‘around-the-edges’ stuff and the chance to step outside your own space. Like sharing a few laughs with the shuttle driver about Auckland’s excess of meetings and traffic and unsatisfactory weather, and discovering we'd double-booked with the Christmas Parade (it passed us by mid-agenda, but Aotea Square was still pumping at 5pm).
And this morning it was another job I could cross off the list. I’d be lost without lists. Maybe it’s a sign of an ageing brain – or maybe just of my tendency to try to pack too much in.
The current list has loads crossed off and a few extra mini-lists squeezed in down one side – which is how I know it’s time to write a fresh one. I like writing fresh lists; I like the tidy achievable feel. I also like the business of crossing things off. Shame I’m usually adding faster than I’m crossing – but everything added is a thing that can be crossed off … eventually. Maybe. Surely?
To counter ULF (unachievable list frustration) I have, over the years, honed the art of list organisation (lists within lists). I keep a long-term (read: unlikely to get crossed off any time soon) list off to the left. And a main list centre page. And then a small, lesser or domestic list out to the right. I have a sublist of approaching deadlines and, by the end of each masterlist’s useful life, I’ll have snuck in another column or two of the ‘it might be tiny but DO NOT forget this’ category of jobs.
So my list of the moment: two novels – one at final edit, one in the early, creative stages, writing two magazine features and a commissioned short story, looking at the re-release of an early title (what are the rules on tweaking??), developing a series of workshops for 2016, completing a couple of manuscript assessments, getting a handle on tweeting, writing non-fiction features based on the research for my latest novel Evie’s War, preparing for my sessions at the NZ Festival in March. The sidebar holds business management matters (a sobering reality of the creative life), urgent garden jobs (height of spring here in HB and my veg self-sufficiency project is moving into its second decade), alongside other non-work related priorities, including a reminder that sometime soon it’s Christmas and the western world shuts down for a binge of consumption. Ours tends to focus on food. Without doubt, I’ll be needing a list especially for that. Best thing about that will be that everything will get crossed off, and my new year resolution will be a bright, white page.
Oh, and there's another time when lists are wonderful things. The Listener's 50 Best Books for Children came out this week, and guess what...?