The Magic of Lists

It seems to me that this Christmas is largely about lists. The first list was my six year old’s Christmas list. She has recently become quite adept at reading and writing which has afforded her much greater opportunities when it comes to writing a wish list of presents for Father Christmas. Until this year she would dictate to me and we kept it fairly basic, short, to the point. Then we posted it up the chimney which as we all know is the most efficient way to reach Santa.

This year however she came upon me in the kitchen and hefted the most recent Argos catalogue onto the table, no mean feat considering it is almost her equal in weight.

‘I’m writing my list, Mummy,’ she informed me, running off to get her felt tips and some paper. ‘It’s going to be colour coded.’

‘Marvelous,’ I said. ‘Good idea.’

Never one to pass an opportunity for fifteen minutes of peace and a cup of tea I left her to it. Then about an hour later I thought I’d see how she was doing because I have never yet known her to labour so long over anything. Her list was indeed colour coded arranged in neat columns and covered two sides of A4.

‘Can I Look?’ I asked her, awe struck.

‘I’m not finished,’ she said. ‘I haven’t done Elec-tric-al goods yet.’

I scanned the list, noticing it included not only the item, but the catalogue number and the page number too. It started with a 9ct gold teddy bear diamante pendant, moved on eventually to a garden set including chairs and a table and then one washer/dryer machine, a multifunctional kitchen chopping system and finally toys.

As I read it and looked down at her face, shining with so much pleasure and pride and I realised it wasn’t the items on the list that drove her to make the list (Although she has been longing for some of the toys) but more the pleasure, freedom and power of being able to write it herself. The joy of creating words, of finding another way to communicate language had inspired her.

I tried to think back to that moment that I must of had, that almost all of us must have had when we have that first thrill and rush of realising what an incredible world the ability to read and write unlocks for us. It must have been a golden moment, even though as a dyslexic I struggled more than most to grasp those tools. And so for me those particular hard fought skills still bring me golden hours every day whether I’m reading a book or writing one and I think they are the greatest gifts that I have ever been given. My daughter felt free when she was writing her list, and I love that she felt that way.

Not sure she’ll be getting a washer/drier in her stocking though.

‘This is an excellent list,’ I told her. ‘I’m not sure that Father Christmas will be able to bring you everything, there are a lot of children in the world and he is working on a budget.’

‘That’s ok,’ she told me taking the list back with infinite care. ‘He knows what I want most is a trampoline anyway. Now I’m doing Elec-tic-al goods.’

The next list was my list, list of things to do for Christmas. Every year I wonder at the frenzy of activity building up to two or three days at most, every November I swear blind that I am not under any circumstances going to get involved in the melee, that I shall rise about it and every year on about December 15th I panic and make a list.

And then last of all there is the long list. Yesterday I discovered that I am on the longlist for the Romantic Novelists Association’s Romantic Novel of the year with my book THE BABY GROUP. I have never been on a long list before, so it goes without saying that I have also never been on a shortlist.

I am very pleased and honoured to make the long list, populated as it is with twenty-one other really great talented writers. Will I make the short list? I don’t know, I’d really like to – it would be an amazing thrill and a secret long held ambition of mine. But one thing I’ve discovered about long lists is that it is probably not the thing to get too excited at this stage. Perhaps simply better to to quietly be pleased that I’m on that list of 22 and try not to think about it any more. If by some miracle I do make the short list then watch this space where I will mostly be jumping around and shouting for joy. If not then let’s just gloss over it and act cool like we’re not even bothered.

But until we know either way keep your fingers crossed for me!

Comments 16

  1. hello rowan its me an old git from way back like the blogg i also have a six year old daughter good to see your writing career in full blossom er read some off river deep seemed to recognize the blonde div or is it my ego hope this is not intrusive dan

  2. Hi Rowan! Me again. I’m about to sign off from blogland for Christmas so thought I’d pop by to wish you and your family a very Happy Christmas and New Year. See you on the other side! :o) x

  3. DANIEL GOODWIN!!!! How are you??? Its so nice to hear from you, leave me an e-mail address or someway of contacting you – there doesn’t seem to be anyway on your blog. ARe you on facebook? myspace? anywhere? I’d love to find out how you are doing, about yoru family and daughter. I will tell which books have characters that are slightly related to you but only privately…!

  4. Hi – bit of a newbie at this!
    Not sure where to post, but just wanted to say I’ve read your “Woman walks Into A Bar” short read (or ‘quick read’ was it called?) and it was so believable -in fact I and a friend think it was written about me.
    So many of the things Sam suffered have happened to me too (though hopefully all in the past)- I know it’s personal to ask but were you writing from experience? (Sorry – but this blog thing seems to be about beign personal.)
    thanks x 1000 for writing it, for me finding it – and now I will read some of your others.
    Much love from Ally

  5. Hi Ally, thanks so much for leaving me a message here. I’m really please you enjoyed Woman Walks into a Bar – I wrote it two years ago now but it remains to this day the work I am most proud of. I haven’t been what Sam has been through but before I wrote the book I spoke to some people who have, and that helped me alot. I’m so glad you enjoyed it and I hope you do read some more of my books – let me know if you do! Take care Rowanx

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