Thursday, March 29, 2007

Top Ten Rewarding Experiences … But First, An Announcement

I’ve been holding back this info for a while because of confidentiality issues at work, but the cat’s now out of the bag and I’ve got nothing to hold me back.


I’m taking the first blind leap since moving to the Cayman Islands in 2002, and taking a sabbatical to write my next two contracted novels.

Now that this is officially out there for everyone to see, I guess I can start believing it. OMG.

To say that this is the day I’ve been dreaming about since I first started writing is an understatement, but it’s very unnerving nonetheless… Can I stand myself enough to weather several hours a day with little to no human contact after years of being an office drone? Can I actually stick to a budget? All I can say is: I’m glad Target and H&M have finally come to Montreal as I fear those are the only places I’ll be shopping at for the next little while. Maybe I’ll learn the fine art of freelancing while I’m at it, or take a class or something to keep me sane – who knows? The sky is the limit!

On to our Top Ten du jour:

10. Looking down at a flat (ish) belly after two weeks of carb depravation and hitting the gym with some semblance of regularity.
This is probably the only thing that gets me to the gym. Health, shmealth, I dream of flat abs. Sue me.

9. Balancing my cash on the first shot.
C’mon, you knew that an accounting related moment of Zen would make it in here. Those of you who have ever attempted this will share my private, dorky joy. Most of you will simply roll your eyes at your computer screens while mouthing “loser”. It’s okay, part and parcel with being an accountant.

8. Talking myself out of a silly purchase.
Make no mistake, this hardly ever happens. But those days when I manage to make it out of the jewelry shop/Sunglasses Hut/BCBG without putting down some dough are gold.

7. Heaving a sigh of exhaustion after a very productive day.
A business teacher once revealed in class that workers spend an average of two hours out of every day doing absolutely nothing (and this was back before the Internet had invaded every desktop in the land). I’ve since found out that this depends largely on your particular job, and how much window-gazing it will allow you. Still, on those days when I manage to make every nanosecond count, it feels pretty good.

6. Learning to do something for myself, instead of asking someone else to help me.
Like figuring out Blogger, zip drives and how to use Windows Vista. Still pending: assembling IKEA furniture, and HTML.

5. Picking up a new skill (related to point 8, but not quite the same).
I’ve been lucky to have several bosses throughout my career who’ve imparted healthy criticism and good advice. Still, every once in a while, you get a doozy. Like the one who, upon learning I was taking an evening Spanish class thought apt to ask: “Why the heck would you do that?”
Why indeed, when I could be sitting on my couch, watching Seinfeld reruns and munching the night away?
Learning to Salsa, and writing a novel fall also under this category.

4. Putting faith in my subconscious and watching it pull through.
Do you ever do this? Politely ask your mind to do something – come up with the perfect opening sentence, a character flaw or a plot twist, then go off and do the dishes or whatever, and then – POOF! Right there, in the middle of your morning shower or rush hour traffic, your brain delivers. This is the very best kind of payoff you get from creative endeavors: a glimpse into the untapped power of the human brain, that wild, shady area we can’t reign in or understand… This is why creative anything is so scary – you have to give yourself license to go nuts and have faith it will all work out in the end.

3. Resisting the call of television and sitting in front of my laptop instead.
Whether I get one page done or ten, it’s always a glorious feeling to resist the urge to vegetate in front of the TV after a long day at work.

2. Hearing about the successes of fellow writers in the trenches.
To think that once upon a time we gazed upon our published sisters and brothers as though they were gods, and then, little by little, and many rejections and a few milestones later, we were among them. It’s that much sweeter when you have friends to share the journey with you.

1. Watching the look on my parents’ face when they saw the dedication of my book for the first time. More than the launch party, more than interviews and glowing reviews and contracts for other books, this was the fantasy I indulged in the most for all the years leading up the publication of Fashionably Late.


Dona Sarkar-Mishra said...

Oh my gosh! You get TO QUIT YOUR DAY JOB TO WRITE!!!!

Lucky lucky lucky girl :) Well, actually, even given the chance, I wouldn't quit the day job (I would miss my friends WAY too much) but wow, what a great opportunity to really get into the writing.

And the marketing.

And the planning for your next books,


Ahem, moving onto your list. I love the flat tummy one too...ah, well, I'll love it once I get there anyway :)

And the one about walking out of a store w/o buying anything, I get you there!

You and I my friend? Complete shopaholics. I understand, believe you me. I understand.

As for the parents reading the dedication thing...I can't wait to see my parents that exact same moment.

Great list, I agree with most things on it (except the balancing cash thing ~ nerd!)

Shannon McKelden said...

I'm so happy for you, Nadine!! That is totally awesome! I am, of course, completely and utterly prostrate with jealousy. :-) But totally happy for YOU.


Aryn Kennedy said...

Okay, time for practical advice: you need to make a schedule. Yes, allow yourself a week or two to wallow in the joy of not going to work. Sleep in late, watch TV, read, just generally chill.

Then, make a plan. Allow yourself time to work out, time to eat, time for things to pop up (shopping during the day is so much easier!), and lots of time to write. Pretend it's like going to work. Promise yourself you'll write X pages per day or X words per day, and then sit down and do it at the same time every day. You'll be amazed how quickly it becomes habit, especially when you've got a deadline breathing down your neck.

Erin said...

Nadine, that's fantastic! Congrats :D

Nadine Dajani said...

Thanks guys!

Dona - be glad you have a job you love that much. I think this is one of the greatest treasures in life. So many people hate what they do, and when you think about it, most people work 50 weeks a year, 50 hours a week. I just can't believe I totally shrugged off the marketing teacher who advised me that money means nothing if all you can do every morning is not kill yourself at the prospect of going to work. That's not say my career hasn't added anything positive to my life, and I'm not just talking money, but you've gotta know when to move on, and after five years of NAV accounting, I'm ready to move on.

Aryn, I hear you. It always seems like around 9 am every weekday, when I've had my coffee, caught up on the headlines and I'm ready to dive into work, my mind instanty starts to formulate witty sentences and come up with plot twists. I can't wait to get home so I could write (at least there's no shortage of paper around me so I'm constantly jotting things down). Then at 7 pm, finally at home and exhausted, nada. So yes, I'm very anxious to get a 8 to 11, gym/lunch, 2 to 6 writing schedule down.

Shannon, Erin, thanks for the well wishes - it wasn't the easiest decision, but somehow it feels right for right now. Like I said, luckily I live in the age of H&M, Target, and Old Navy, so I should manage to stick to a budget and still indulge in some shopping...

Anonymous said...


So behind on the post...but that's AMAZING news. I'm so proud of you! I was hoping this day would come! I knew you and your writing were special when I saw Mojitos in Manolos!

I heart you!

P.S. I'll be listening tonight!!!