The List

Well I did it. I wrote a list.

Yeah sure, I hear you think. What’s the big deal? Why the big sigh and the slight grimace after that sentence Megan? It’s a LIST, not, you know, your last will and testament. It’s a piece of scrap paper on the fridge, not the Magna Carta. Why this thing scares me so much is anybody’s guess.

Well, not really. I know why lists are scary. It’s not what you put on them…it’s what you leave off. You see? Behind every List is an Unwritten List. We carry these Lists in our heads, but it’s when you put them on paper that the Unwritten List looms up, large and overwhelming, with festery talons and time-biting teeth.

Are you getting it yet? Some of you might…some of you who are still mothers of small children might…

My List is pretty straightforward. It has things like Pay Electricity Bill. Call Builder. Activate New SIM Card. Go to Bank. Wish Sonya a Happy Birthday*. None of it is rocket science. I could knock most of it over in an hour or two…and herein lies the problem.

Have you worked it out yet? Have you figured out what my Unwritten List has on it, the one that makes my Fridge List so frighteningly large? Have you worked out the real reason I don’t just write it down and add it to the other one?

It changes. All the time. It has three small pink mouths, nine eyes, one bottom that needs wiping. It needs help washing its hands, and it needs reminding to brush the hair on its three heads. And it EATS! Oh my how my List eats. And not only does it eat, it likes to have long and involved discussions on what it eats, and when, and how much.

My Unwritten List plays violin. It loves to go to the museum and the park. It swims. It eats. It sits on its little pink unwiped bottom and asks to play Minion Rush on my smartphone. And not only that–here’s the big revelation…the one that Stephen Covey forgot–the Unwritten List is the ENEMY of the List.

This is true. I kid you not. As soon as that pen is poised near the fridge to cross off one more thing, then suddenly the fridge door will fly open and milk will fly out, and a voice will scream from the other room “Muuuuummmmmeeeeee!!” This is the Unwritten List at work.

Don’t get me wrong. I adore my three-headed, one-bottom-that-still-needs-wiping Unwritten List. But I embrace my love of it more freely when there’s not a piece of paper on my fridge that’s trying to tell me what to do.

The List

The List

*Oh yes, it’s Sonnie’s birthday today! Not sure if you’ll read this today or not my friend, but HAPPY 40th BIRTHDAY!

Oh wow. I can cross that off my list now I guess!

Books, love, and loyalty

I’m reading this book, right?

No, I’m not going to tell you what it is, because then I’ll have to be all sympathetic and encouraging, and you might be tempted to go and read it yourself. Or you may have read it already and you might shoot me down in flames in the sincere believe that it’s actually the best and most beautiful book ever written and nothing can ever surpass it’s greatness. And…in my humble opinion it’s not that great. And THAT, my friend, is the interesting thing.

I’m reading this book, right? And it’s not that great. And that’s interesting primarily because I want to keep reading it. Have you ever experienced that? I don’t think it’s the same if you’re one of those people who’s got all the time in the world to read books, or one of those people who diligently reads to the end of everything simply because you don’t like things left uncompleted. I am NOT one of those people (although I wish I was sometimes). I’ve long held the belief that if a book isn’t that great, or doesn’t grab me, or doesn’t threaten to stop me from breathing unless I read it NOW, or gets bypassed by something faster and more immediate, then I’ll happily put it down. And life is busy. I have a shelf  (yes, I had to graduate to an actual SHELF) next to my bed with a large pile of books on it–   many  of them excellent, highly acclaimed, wonderfully crafted tomes–that for various reasons I haven’t finished. They’re there because I will get back to them eventually, when life is calmer and time is richer and thicker than it is now, and when there’s more than a two-minute window when I put my head on that pillow before I fall asleep.

But then there’s this book.

The thing is, the thing that baffles me most about my inability to put it down and read something better, is that nothing actually happens. Nothing’s happened so far that I care about. No great story-questions, any will-she-or-won’t-she, are hanging over my head. No life or death situations. I can walk away any time I want…if I want…if I could.

See? My trouble is that I can’t.

It’s not so much that I’ve fallen in love, it’s just that I’ve…well…I’ve got involved. It’s like the lady at the bus stop who always tells you stories about her grown up kids who you’ve never met and have no particular affiliation with, but because you catch the same bus every day, and because SHE catches the same bus every day, on the weekends you find yourself wondering how those grown-up kids are going, and whether they will decide to send their son to a school a little further away, or buy that second car.

Should I care? Can’t help it. Just do. I’m human.

It’s like friends, I think. I’ve written here before about how my cat simply moved in to our lives and expected us to love her, and we did. People do that too–the mythical lady at the bus stop, for instance. And now, apparently, books.

There are books on the shelf next to my bed that I may never finish, and that saddens me in one way. Although in another way I’m pleased. Unfinished books are the friends I keep nestled close to my heart even though I may not see them regularly; the friends I know will always be there, and I can always come back to, no matter how far I travel. I love them for who they are, for what they’ve meant to me in the past, and I love them simply because they’re mine.

I wil finish this book I’m reading, I know it. But I’ll always keep these characters close to my chest, whether or like it or not, because somewhere in this reading process I began to think of them as friends. And, to tell you the truth, just as long as I don’t start thinking of my friends as storybook characters then that’s quite all right by me.

Happy (tired) Monday

Sleeping child with pen

This is my boy, in a picture taken a few months ago. Yes, he fell asleep like that.

This is about how I feel right now. I’m writing a synopsis (with some serious help) for my novel, and it’s much more taxing than I ever realised. I’m Mostly done on the trip planning, but still a decent sized list of things to do. And I promised the kid I’d play Octonauts today. This is probably how Susie Finkbeiner feels too, a handful of days before her next novel is due to the editors. It’s just a busy kind of week. (Onya Suze, you can do it!)

I shouldn’t wonder why the song from The Lion King is going through my head…”there’s more to see than can ever be seen, more to do than can ever be done…” It’s just one of those weeks really.

And, heck, it’s only Monday.

Happy Monday friends! Hope your week is blessed and full. What’s on for you this week?

The packing list

I’m leaving home in 26 days. I’m leaving the country in 28 days, in a crazy, dream-come-true kind of holiday. It’s not that I’m stressed, not really. I’m breathing okay, see? In. Out. In. Out. Where was I up to?

Oh yes. I’ve got nearly all the accommodation sorted, which is a big relief. I’m slowly going through and putting all the details into a spreadsheet that we can share with family and friends, and so we’ve got a record of all our addresses/contact phone numbers/flight times/etc in one place. Sixteen cities. Two months. Sheesh! I ordered USA sim cards for our phones today, and the extra travel bed we ordered a fortnight ago should be shipped soon. I’ve started packing.

It’s okay. It is. It really is.

The shoes bother me a little bit. I am a woman, yes, but I’m not a “shoe girl”. Or, at least, I never used to be. I used to wear my Doc Marten boots with everything, and that was fine. Trouble is, I grew up, and I no longer truly believe I can get away with Docs and an evening dress at a gala dinner – even if the dress is floor-length. So I’m traveling with strappy heels, summer walking shoes, winter walking shoes (may be snowing in the Canadian Rockies), looking-nice-because-I-need-to-look-a-little-dressed-up boots and my everyday regular wear-everywhere Docs.

Swimming gear. Thermal underwear. Parka. Sunscreen. Woolly socks. Warm hat. Sun hat. Did I mention swimming gear? Vegemite. Milo. Enough underwear to survive ten days in the Canadian Rockies possibly without a washing machine. Possibly in the snow.

Remind me again why I’m driving through the Canadian Rockies with a floor-length evening gown and strappy heels?

Not that I’m stressed. Not really. Not that it bothers ME that I’ve been so busy that I haven’t done any laundry all weekend, nosireeeeee. Oh no. Clean socks are completely overrated.

I think I need to go buy a tumble drier today. I’m sorry environmentalists: I’ve tried, and I’ve failed. I wonder if I can buy a portable one that fits in my suitcase?

I wonder if I can buy one that washes and dries my Doc Martens?

So tell me friends, seasoned travelers, any great tips on what to pack, what not to pack, what to buy? I’m trying to keep it down to one suitcase, but I am allowed to take two. Thermal-lined formal-wear with detachable hood, perhaps? 

If you DID know

Yesterday I decided it was time to finally sit down and write a book proposal. For the non-writers out there, a proposal is basically a document detailing who you are, what your book is about, why someone should publish it and what you’re going to do to help it get to readers once it’s published. I don’t know if it’s industry-standard, but it is in the Christian book market.

I’ve been avoiding it.

I wrote a book because a book was on my heart to write. I’ve always wanted to write books, for as long as I can remember. I like my book. I’m proud of it. People who read it come away and say nice things about it too, and they say “wow”, and they say “that’s really good”, and I say “thank you”. But then some other people overhear these things and they say “you wrote a book? What’s it about?” and I say “ummm…stuff?” and they say “what sort of stuff?” and I say “ummm…people and stuff?”

People and stuff. That’s really good, Megan. You should be a writer, with a gift of words like that. Yeah.

There’s another answer that I sometimes give when people ask me what I write about, and that is “I don’t know”. And this isn’t strictly true either, because you don’t write 81,000 words about something you don’t know what it is or whether anyone would ever want to read it. Well, okay. Some people do. I don’t.

I had this friend once who never ever let me say “I don’t know”. She’d always counter it with “And if you DID know, what would the answer be?” and suddenly I’d find myself giving her an answer, whether it was a thought, a guess, a revelation. I did know, I just didn’t want to talk about it.

Funnily enough, I found the proposal to be the same. As soon as I sat down with all the relevant if-you-want-to-write-a-fiction-proposal-you-need-to-ask-yourself-the-following-questions questions, a good coffee and an iPad suddenly I found I did know the answers after all. I wrote three pages of answers, and a hundred more questions.

It made me think: how many more areas of life are there “I don’t knows” that I simply haven’t taken the time to figure out the answers to. Sometimes it just takes someone to ask the right question.

Hello my friend. How are you today? Are there niggling questions in your life that you stop up with “I don’t knows”? Have you ever asked yourself the question “what if you DID know?”