Hi everyone! My friend Catherine Lane has a new book out, and she dropped by to tell us all about it. Yes! How cool is that?
Falling in love w
asn’t on her to-do list
by Catherine Lane
One of the main characters in my latest lesbian romance, Heartwood, is Nikka, a sexy young lawyer who obsessively makes to-do lists. Here is a quick excerpt from early on in the book.
Two things to cross out on her to-do list. Already she could feel the spike in endorphins even before she slid her lucky metallic pen across the entries. It was why she went old school and hand-wrote her to-do list. No Todoist or Wunderlist for her.
She hunted around in her purse for the paper but couldn’t find it. In the end, she had to make a new list, and true to the rules of the to-do list manifesto, she couldn’t put down something she had already done. Damn.
I thought the to-do lists were a nice little detail (if I do say so myself)—the kind that tells the reader that Nikka is all business and could need the “loosening up” that Maggie will give her in twenty or so pages. As an added bonus, the lost to-do list ends up in her boss’s hands and is the catalyst that gets Nikka to Maggie, the chaotic chef she falls in love with. So I was pleased on many fronts.
When my editor sent back the notes on my rough draft, among all the red slashes and comments suggesting much-needed rewrites, she asked, “So, does Nikka get her tendency to make lists and mind maps from you? I found it really cute.”
My editor is the fantastic romance writer Jae—how lucky am I?—and so, it should come as no surprise that Jae, who observes life so keenly in her novels, recognized Nikka in me even though we’ve never met in person.
The answer was “Yes, I am a big to-do lister — I write the entries down in pencil and cross them off with Nikka’s metallic pen — but I draw the line at mind maps. Like your children, I guess, you always want more for your characters. :)”
Of course, I knew that I had stolen my slightly OCD propensity for to-do lists for Nikka, but it got me thinking about why I love to-do lists so much in the first place.
Like most people’s, my life is hectic, and as I change gears at light speed between working, mothering, writing, and a million other responsibilities, so much would fall through the cracks if I didn’t have to-do lists. But they also help me prioritize. I write up my to-do lists on 4”by 6” lined Post-it notes. There are only 15 lines per sheet, and because I never allow myself two Post-it notes at a time, I don’t get overwhelmed.
Full disclosure, I do allow myself different Post-it notes for work and writing. I stick the Post-it notes onto a daily planner to give myself a full week to get them done. If a task is not a priority that week, I flip ahead a week or two, write it on the Post-it note that is already there, and then happily forget about it until the week comes up. My wife thinks I’m nuts, but it works for me. And just between us, I’ve found a Post-it note or two around the house with her handwriting on it…
In the end, though, it’s much more than staying organized. As I cross off an entry, there is a rush of both satisfaction and relief to know that the task is no longer on my plate. More importantly, I always take a minute to remember that life is so much more than a to-do list. That it’s way too easy to get caught up in the daily minutiae and lose sight of what is truly significant: family and dreams. Not coincidentally, this realization also comes to Nikka at the end of Heartwood as she begins to figure out what she wants from her future.
I am proud to share my to-do lists with Nikka. She’s a lot more organized and successful than I am. And she has much nicer hair, but I guess that’s why they call it fiction.
If you want to read more about Nikka, her to-do lists, and adorably impulsive Maggie, check out my new novel Heartwood.