Wouldn't stop picking at it

On why I’m taking a sabbatical

Street art, Montreal, Spring 2015

I’ve been reminiscing with a nine-year-old recently.

My nine-year-old self, that is. An adorable, but weird kid, more comfortable with books than with other kids. I learned how to ride a bike late and was comically clumsy. In fact, I made so many trips to the emergency room, I can even today remember the inside of the vice principal’s car. What an awkward little bird I was, my head made top-heavy with owlish glasses that magnified my eyes. Irregular, mom-cut bangs that never lay flat. Teachers noted my intelligence, but my attention was constantly elsewhere, travelling through a series of imaginary worlds far away from the chalk-filled air of the classroom.

When I was nine, stories happened everywhere. And when a story beckoned, I always stopped to listen.

In one, I was an orphan in Saskatchewan; my brother and I adopted by a farmer after our parents died on a geological survey in the north. We were found at the camp, alive, curled up together in the snow. When I walked home through the streets of NDG, it wasn’t a sidewalk on King Edward, but a long, dusty road between wheat fields.

In another story, I was one half of twin girls, born to a Canadian mother and a Saudi prince. Sometimes I was the sister in Canada, but most days I was the Saudi sister, swanning around the dining room, dripping in jewels, my sheet/gown regally trailing behind as my mother hollered for me to peel the potatoes for dinner.

I also had a high fashion boutique and loved drawing up bills for fabulous outfits that I could only see in my mind. When friends came over, I would spend hours carefully arranging my room so that all my best toys and books were visible and available for play.

I had all the time in the world for stories. Every moment was an opportunity for telling and every idea ripe with possibilities.

Street art, Montreal, Spring 2015Stories require a little more effort as an adult. They still appear, but with the time crunch, it’s not always possible to drop what I’m doing. I have to make notes and steal pockets of time here and there to experience what these possible worlds feel like, to hear the messages they carry, to craft them into shapes that others can pick up and find awe in.

It’s taking me much longer than I thought to complete the stories that I’ve started. My stories, I don’t mind saying, are good, but eternally unfinished. Working from home helps, but it still means slow progress. Every block of creative writing time requires an equal amount of time for reading, taking a walk and contemplating the bumblebees in my back yard while having a snack. For the last 15 years, my clients have provided me with stimulating projects, as well as satisfying professional relationships, but I somehow feel as if a part of me – the creative writer – isn’t being honoured as she wants to be.

But it mostly feels like I’m not being true to the nine-year-old who loved stories more than anything else in the world. I love that little weirdo so much. I can’t let her down.

So I have decided to take a sabbatical later this year – just two months. Some details are clear, others less so. I will travel and write every day, moving away from client work for a while to focus on a novel and getting my stories published. I know that this means career suicide, financial worry and months away from the people I love, but it’s manageable compared to how my heart will feel if I don’t do this.

Dear gawd, I may even write more blog posts…

22 comments for “On why I’m taking a sabbatical

  1. May 7, 2015 at 12:16 pm

    Your courage to follow your dreams is truly inspiring. And I can totally relate to this: “Every block of creative writing time requires an equal amount of time for reading, taking a walk and contemplating the bumblebees in my back yard while having a snack.”

  2. ad
    May 7, 2015 at 12:27 pm

    Thanks Belinda – your support is very much appreciated. As always!

  3. May 7, 2015 at 4:19 pm

    Tu fais bien de le faire tant que toi et tes histoires sont vivantes !

  4. ad
    May 7, 2015 at 4:37 pm

    Merci Muriel! Je pars en 4 mois!

  5. Renée
    May 7, 2015 at 4:38 pm

    Sad. Envious. Thrilled. That is all. ☺

  6. ad
    May 7, 2015 at 4:59 pm

    I’m trying not to focus on Poor, Panicked and Freaking out 😉

  7. May 7, 2015 at 5:06 pm

    I’m doing the exact, same thing later this year! I’ll take time for drawing what’s been occupying my mind for sooooooo many years.
    Courage, ça vaut la peine de prendre du temps pour soi, et ses projets personnels, dans ce monde de fou 🙂

  8. Rishie
    May 7, 2015 at 6:58 pm

    Your stories are lucky to have you.
    A+r time soon please. Much to say.
    Peace out.

  9. Melissa Holland
    May 7, 2015 at 8:38 pm

    So happy for you, and 9 year-old you. Hold hands as you leap !

  10. ad
    May 7, 2015 at 9:23 pm

    Merci! Tes mots me soulage beaucoup!
    I think I needed to write this article to release some of the anxiety and to start enjoying my decision.
    Courage a toi aussi – I look forward to reading about your experience on your blog 🙂

  11. ad
    May 7, 2015 at 9:24 pm

    She’s already given me three hugs today – thanks Melissa Holland! xo

  12. May 8, 2015 at 8:09 am

    You will not regret this. Your clients will wait and welcome you back with open arms or you’ll find new ones. I did. The gift you are giving your nine-year-old child is enormous, precious and life-bearing. You are talented and focused and connected to the universe. You go, girl!

  13. djiff
    May 8, 2015 at 9:01 am

    You go girl!!! Follow your heart, live life! Go find that nine year old and let her tell you a new story!

  14. ad
    May 8, 2015 at 10:16 am

    Can’t. Wait.
    (answer applies to all above)

  15. ad
    May 8, 2015 at 10:17 am

    Thank you, Gina! The support means so much more coming from a writer and a woman that I respect and admire so.

  16. ad
    May 8, 2015 at 10:18 am

    Thanks JF! Un peu d’évasion, is what we all need now and again.

  17. May 8, 2015 at 10:50 am

    We have a mutual admiration society.

  18. ad
    May 8, 2015 at 11:08 am


  19. Andrea
    May 25, 2015 at 2:03 pm

    This sounds amazing. Good for you!

  20. ad
    May 25, 2015 at 2:16 pm

    Thanks A!

  21. August 10, 2015 at 9:26 am

    “I know that this means career suicide” —> not true.

  22. ad
    August 10, 2015 at 12:28 pm

    Merci Étienne 🙂

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