Saturday, November 11, 2006

No More Excuses… Well, A Couple More, Actually

Has it really been a month since my last post? Oh, the shame...

I’m not sure if the expression “when it rains, it pours” was just one chronic procrastinator’s explanation as to why he suddenly went from rocking peacefully in a hammock with nothing much to do, to having his head spin with an army of unrelated, all equally urgent tasks suddenly landing in his hereto blissfully empty conscience. I feel like it poured on me, but then again, maybe I did this to myself...

Okay, excuses. Let's see if you forgive me, or if I'm utterly beyond redemption:

1) All Hell breaking loose at work. My uber-serious, responsible, upwardly-mobile DH warned me against making any kind of work-related reference in any of my posts lest I land myself on the opposite side of a defamation suit. (Not that you'd ever want to hear about my day job anyway, trust me). Suffice to say, some careers are not exactly conducive to oodles of writing time and/or the keeping of one's sanity. Then again, see musings on procrastination above.

2) Hard drive crashing. I own a Mac. I thought macs didn't crash. I never thought MY mac would crash. My friends liken me to Carrie Bradshaw because of my abilities to punctuate a sentence properly and identify the correct top to be wearing with this summer's short-shorts. I never thought I would be staring at a pair of blinking, bespectacled eyes before my beloved laptop screen went blank, taking every piece of software and pored-over Word files along with it. A la CB. And no, I did NOT go Ctl+Alt+Delete.

3) Frantic call from agent inquiring as to where the Hell (my expletive, not hers) are the chapters for my next book...

4) Politics. No I'm not American, but I've been following your elections as closely as though I were. The whole thing fascinates me, and I half-wish I could vote (I'm half glad I can't because I wouldn't wish the choice btw Democrats and Republicans on my worst enemy). Just the God issue alone makes me break out into a self-righteous seizure. Judging by this week's Newsweek and Time covers (or is it last weeks'? I live in Moo-moo-moo land, it takes a while for things like food and pertinent information to reach us), God is a hot topic outside of my head as well. Also, I had prepared a very impassioned post after watching Spike Lee's four hour long "When the Levees Broke" documentary but the DH decreed it was too strong for a blog about writing... I listened, though maybe I shouldn't have... our writing is a big part of who we are (which is why we take criticism so badly, right?). I think if you are very reluctant to talk about politics and religion in public, then that's who you are. I happen to think these are the only two topics really worth debating these days because they define the very core of our existence. Not that I value the discussion of the length of the season's hem lines any less (or, say, how far fashion has come in a mere decade than the topic of hemline length is oh-so-passe...), I just think that in today's political landscape, it's very pink-elephant-in-the-living-room-esque to willfully ignore these topics.

And that's where I've been, ladies and gentlemen. As for the lovely pics of Grand Cayman Dona and Wendy suggested I post: we're still in rainy season daa'hlinks! As I stare out the cafe windows right now, I see a large gray cloud pouring its contents over our downtown area (about three streets and a dock) and plodding its way over here.

But I’m here now, so let’s make the best of it!

I’m in that phase of writing a novel right now where you’re so in love with your characters and premise that you think you might just be the next Marian Keyes and you almost see little writing fairies a la Flora, Fauna and Merriweather whipping your laptop keys into a magical frenzy, and all you have to do is sit back and watch the happy little miracle happen.

I wonder how long that’s going to last.

I do credit some of this to a pretty long dry spell where I just sat back and let the story come to me. I don’t think this is advisable, but at least for this book, where the story in its entirety is conjured up from thin air (no handy Cuba memories to fall back on), I think the final work will be the stronger for it.

I'm feeling the vibe of this new book as much more women's fic than traditional chick lit. By that I mean the voice/tone are more subdued, serious, and I'm hoping it's because the themes are deeper, and the protag well-characterized. I'll be finding out soon enough what my editor thinks...

Before I go, I'll leave with with some movie/book recommendations (somehow, in spite of the world crashing down around me lately, I managed to squeeze in lots of reading and movie catching up time. No, I was NOT procrastinating...)


1) Water. That's the title. "Water". It's not a very recent one (2004, I think), but it's amazing. It takes place in India in 1938, right around the time Gandhi was making a name for himself, and when child marriages to yucky old perverted men were common practice (lest you think I'm being unfair to Indians, those things happened plenty in the Middle-East in the olden days, in Africa, and yes, in Europe not too too long ago. Samuel de Champlain, the explorer who "civilized" Quebec took a 12 year-old bride when he was in his fifties and brought her back gloves made of native-Americans' skin as a present from the New World... Can you say weirdo?)

Anyhoo, the heroine of this story is an 8 year-old girl who finds out the man she doesn't quite remember marrying died and left her a widow. This is very, very bad as strict Hindu scripture prescribes that widows either hurl themselves into the fire after their dead husbands, live out the rest of their miserable lives in penitence on the fringes of society for being the reason their poor men departed this Earth, or marry their dead husband's younger brother if he has one. Our young protagonist is sent away to an ashram (an institution where widows live secluded from the rest of the world) where she has to adapt to living on one meal a day, having her hair shorn, and begging every once in a while. It sounds like a miserable movie but it's quite uplifting in a strange way. It's also tragic, universal, beautiful and haunting. Favorite scene: after a particularly trying episode, one man asks a dedicated widow how she can keep her faith after so much suffering. Her reply: "I know we're here for a reason." His reply:"Yes. Because when you are sent here [the ashram], that's one less mouth to feed, four less saris a year, one more bed in the house. You're here as a result of an economic decision masquerading as religion."

2) Three Kings. This is another oldie, shot right after Operation Desertstorm, the first Iraqi escapade... (early 1990s) but chillingly relevant today. It follows three screwball soldiers (Clooney, Mark Wahlberg, Ice-Cube) who find a map for treasure Saddam stole from Kuwait in a POW's butt. They want to get the treasure while the army is busy pulling out of Iraq (that's the funny part of the movie) but get caught up in a popular uprising in the process (the not-so-funny part). One of the better, more balanced and honest Hollywood movies about the Middle-East conflict I've seen. And there aren't many of those around, so you really shouldn't miss this one.


Something Blue - now I've read all the Emily Giffins and I've loved them all. I think this may have been my favorite. Darcy is so much more complex and interesting to follow than mopey Rachel. At least that's my opinion...

Blame It On Paris - just started this one, but it's hilarious so far. Down-home Georgia girl drools over French waiter and manages to ask him out despite quasi-crippling self-deprecating humor and cynicism. Semi-autobiographical (big whoop, so's most chick lit. The shock value here is that this author actually owns up to it...) Bonus: love the descriptions of the city. I miss Paris...

That's it for now chickkies. Will try to post though the priority right now is to get my proposal out for the sequel to FL. But, maybe if you ask me nicely, I'll tell you how I met Orlando Bloom a few weekend ago (yes, words were spoken between us beyond "aren't you Orlando Bloom, drool drool") ...


Anonymous said...

Hi Nadine!
My name is Diana and I'm a big Bloom fan from PR. I'd like to hear about your encounter with the British actor! ;)

Reel Fanatic said...

You're definitely right that we need more and better choices in our political parties in the U.S. .. with this election, I think the best we can say is that we finally got the lesser of two evils

Seven Star Hand said...

Hello Nadine,

Now comes the truly important work of preventing the last six years from ever happening again. As long as people cling to money, religion, and politics, these seemingly never-ending cycles of evil scoundrels, war, great struggles, and repeated injustices will never end.

These scoundrels need to be taught a lesson about truth and justice that humanity will take to heart, once and for all.

Did it ever dawn on you that money, religion, and politics are the prime sources of human struggle and continuing to beat a dead horse (or donkey, or elephant) will never solve our seemingly never-ending cycles of calamities? One good lesson to take from this election is that politics is a cycle that will always produce greedy scoundrels who must later be defeated or else. Why beat your heads against the same old wall when the door has been sighted and waiting for you to open your eyes and "see the light?" Truth, Wisdom, and Justice are non-political, non-religious, and non-monetary.

Here is Wisdom !!

Nadine Dajani said...

Dear reel fanatic,

We have something like six parties in Canada and let me tell you, most of the time it STILL doesn't feel like we have a real choice!

I think the problem in the States is the control corporations have on government - whether Democratic or Republican. The lobbyists don't change when parties do - the money just goes to different people. I think that this government though, has gone down the road of corporate greed further than any in the last 50 years.

During the 2000 elections there was a big debate of this 'lesser of two evils'. Lots of people voted for Nader and were then blamed for having handed the election over to the Bush administration. I thought at that time how tragic it was that the country was so divided that such a small contingent of independant thinkers could have such disastrous consequences.

What would the political landscape be like if the majority of American voters were as informed, intellectually curious, critical thinkers and able to focus more on the part of the Constitution which ensured the seperation of church and state, over the part which protected their right to bear arms... maybe they wouldn't always find themselves choosing between two evils... In the spirit of optimism though, good luck, and hopefully these new people in office will actually fulfill the mandate they promised to...

Nadine Dajani said...

Hi there Diana! Thanks for visiting! Okay, next post will be all about Orlando Bloom - promise!

Nadine Dajani said...

Seven star... I love meeting people with passion! The world needs more of that (although passion without critical thinking can be pretty dangerous...)

Have you read Ishmael by Daniel Quinn? It presents a very interesting theory as to why people can't seem to escape this never-ending cycle of greed/money/religion-that-hurts-not-helps. I won't spoil the book for you, but I'll paraphrase my favorite part, which is a retelling of the story that inspired the biblical myth of creation. (I have to warn you, I LOVE this getting-to-the-psychological-socio-economic-roots-of-religion stuff)

Here it is, the Genesis Creation Myth, as told by semi-nomadic Semites. Ahem.

One day, the gods were sitting around, going about their godly business, deciding if it would rain or shine, if the lion would get the gazelle or if the gazelle would manage to run away, when they started to argue.

One of the gods wanted to flood the river banks so the swamps would be replenished and the swamp creatures would thrive, and that would be Good for the swamp creatures. Another god got up and said that if the river banks flooded, the crops would die, and that would be Evil for the crops. (I'm paraphrasing here...)

And so they went about arguing, and then they realized that there was no such thing as 'good' or 'evil' for what was good for someone would inevitably be bad for someone else, and so it was for all the species on Earth. And because these gods had eaten of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, then they would always know the consequences of their actions, and so would have to decide to give each creature their day for 'good' and their turn for 'evil', understanding that there was no way for doing just good for everyone on Earth.

Then, along came man. He was the most favored of the gods' creatures, so much so that they debated around the idea of letting man eat of the tree of knowledge of good and evil so man could take his place as the leader of the creatures (since the gods liked man so much and thought he was so smart).

But then one god got up and argued that knowledge was nothing without wisdom. And until man had existed long enough on Earth to acquire wisdom, he would use this knowledge the gods had to make it so that everything was good for him all the time. And so none of the creatures would ever get their day of good, and man would consume the whole of the Earth before he had a chance to mature and gain the wisdom to understand that sometimes it would be his turn for evil just as it was for all the other creatures.

And when they heard this the gods freaked out and decreed that man should never eat of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, for then he shall surely die.

This is the story, according to Daniel Quinn, that the Semite tribes told to explain the gifts and punishments of their existance, and which the Hebrews took and adapted. Except in the biblical version, Adam isn't supposed to eat of this tree because God told him so. Instead of the story explaining to us how we fit in the grand scheme of things, it becomes a story about disobedience, one that tells us that man is intrinsically flawed, and that much of our problems are because we don't listen to God.

I thought it was brilliant. It certainly highlights in a simple, lovely way, how our consumerism, waste and utter disrespect for the Earth will be the end of our species. Some people might call that Judgement Day, I call it the predictable outcome of greed.

You should check out for a lot of intelligent debate.

Dona Sarkar-Mishra said...

Whew...I have so much to say! First of all, I am WITH YOU on our crazy elections. Goddamn.

Second, I am so excited to start reading Something Blue...I loved Darcy too (wayyy more than self-hating Rachel who never spoke up for herself). How did you like Baby Proof?

Third, I watched WATER too and loved it. Oh god, the ending. I have to say though, John Abraham totally impressed me. In Hindi movies, he's kind of a "dumb jock" but I loved him in this movie. Great stuff.

Um...I think that's it. But I miss you and can't wait to see you at next year's conference!

Nadine Dajani said...

I CAN'T WAIT TO SEE YOU TOO!!! I really hope I can make the conference next year... and this time I will PARTY.

Baby Proof was great. I blogged about it a little while ago... definately more of a women's fic read than chick lit. It's not terribly plot-driven (I wouldn't say Something Borrowed was either... exciting stuff happened in chapter one and then in the last few chapters. What was in between was mostly character angst, and eventually, growth). I'd sat Baby Proof is even more like that, with the added bonus that it addresses a very 'now' issue, which is attitues towards motherhood.

I never knew who John Abraham was before Water, but he was so HOT. In the dvd's added features they interviewed him in a regular jeans and t-shirt, and his hotness factor in the interview was nowhere near that of Water. Maybe I'm just a sucker for period pieces, period.

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