Sabbatical

My husband Tom is a mathemagician and they have this antiquated - but fantastic - tradition in academia called sabbatical. Antiquated because it literally comes from the Old Testament (Leviticus 25:1-7). And fantastic because a year off from teaching and administrative responsibilities means more time for intensive research. So we're in Toronto for the Fall. And Toronto in the Fall is magical. The weather is perfect and the city's calendar is stuffed to the gills with cultural events, particularly literary ones.

A couple of weeks ago, I went to Word on the Street and, among other sessions, had a chance to hear Zoe Whittall read from her Giller short-listed novel The Best Kind of People. What a pleasure! This book is on my must-read list. And here's a piece of editorial advice she shared from her experience as a TV writer: get in and out of the scene fast. Yes! I forget this too often.

So we're in Toronto. Tom has an office on campus and I alternate between a reading room at Robart's Library and a bright and airy cafe-cum-study space called Grad Room. I've taken to saying we are on sabbatical because it feels that way. A sabbatical from St. John's and life as usual. I'm revising The Boat People, of course, but also working on a couple of other projects (stay tuned) including my first grant application to Canada Council for the Arts. And these are all things I'd be doing if I was home but the vibe here is different. I'm more productive, for one thing, and procrastination - my #1 daily battle at home - doesn't hold the same lure here. I don't know why. I had expected it to be more difficult to write here, that it would take time to settle in to a new work environment and get started. But it's been the opposite. There's something to be said for breaking free of regular routines and shaking things up.