SARAH’S TOP WRITING TIP: Read! Reading is how you learn how to write. You’ll pick up where others get it right and wrong, you’ll feel inspired to create your own work, and you just feel like your path to work isn’t very ‘worky’.
Sarah Ayoub is an author and freelance journalist based in Sydney, Australia. Following the debut of her first YA novel, Hate Is Such a Strong Word, she has taught journalism at the University of Notre Dame and spoken at numerous industry events with the Emerging Writers’ Festival, NSW Writers’ Centre, The Walkley Foundation, Vibewire and more.
To learn more about Sarah, visit her website: www.sarahayoub.com
- Why do you write?
I write because I can’t help it. Writing is a compulsion – it’s my way of making sense of my thoughts, my feelings and my opinion. Writing is how I make sense of the world. It was never something I set out to do. I’d always wanted to be a journalist (since I was 10 – inspired by Lois Lane) but at school I hated creative writing. These days I think it’s because there were so many rules. Becoming an author was a whole other matter: a character waltzed into my head one day – all whiney and emotional – and I felt like I had to share her story. After that, I was hooked. Writing fiction is a free-flow of ideas that indulge my sense of wonder and wanderlust.
- What would you be doing if you weren’t a writer?
I love talking about travelling and holidays, so maybe a travel agent! Or a historian. Or I would love a job where I can indulge my love of all things French or the icons of style – like PR for a French brand. Chanel definitely comes to mind – I know so much about her.
- What was your toughest obstacle to becoming published?
Thankfully, I didn’t have any real obstacles. I know I’m incredibly lucky for this so I really do try to take the time to answer the questions of emerging writers, to make their journey easier too. I picked up an agent straight away and that made getting a publisher fairly easy. In fact, I probably jeopardised my writing career (as I still do) by my lack of discipline and constant procrastination.
- What’s the best aspect of your writing life?
Creating new people to love, and new stories to get engrossed in. Passing time doing something creative that indulges your imagination. Working your brain into over drive, and those light bulb moments that make you stop what you’re doing to write something down. Even as an author I sometimes get excited writing a particular scene. I suppose it’s that but also the excitement of seeing others appreciate what you have poured your heart and soul into.
- —the worst?
For me, it’s my complete lack of discipline. I have so many ideas I can’t wait to turn into novels, but I just self-sabotage by wasting time online, or cleaning my closet (over and over again) or picking at my bad skin. And the bad reviews of course – from people that don’t offer any constructive criticism but just say things like ‘bad writing’.
- What would you do differently if you were starting out now as a writer?
Join a writer’s group. I’ve noticed that authors who join them have a support network I don’t really have. No one reads my books before they go to print – unless they’re my agent or publisher. I’ve noticed writer’s groups talk through plot points, getting stuck, stale ideas etc and I think that’s lovely. A long time ago, I joined Gabrielle Tozer’s writing group, and it was so fun. But that was because we never really spoke about writing or did any work. We just went to the pub and needless to say, Gabby disbanded the group after a while and voila – after that, we all got some work done!
- What do you wish you’d been told before you set out to become an author?
I wish I learnt more about foreign rights and selling books overseas. I’m so scared of putting myself out there sometimes that I didn’t pursue this part of writing with my first book. I am going to try it out with The Yearbook Committee and see how I go, but I still plan on asking my author friends who have been published overseas to share their insights.
- What’s the best advice you were ever given?
I have a tendency to stress about things, and things that are out of my control. Being told not to sweat, or that it’ll be ok, is always a good thing to hear. Things usually work themselves out.
by Sarah Ayoub
Five teenagers. Five lives. One final year.
The school captain: Ryan has it all … or at least he did, until an accident snatched his dreams away. How will he rebuild his life and what does the future hold for him now?
The newcomer: Charlie’s just moved interstate and she’s determined not to fit in. She’s just biding her time until Year 12 is over and she can head back to her real life and her real friends …
The loner: At school, nobody really notices Matty. But at home, Matty is everything. He’s been singlehandedly holding things together since his mum’s breakdown, and he’s never felt so alone.
The popular girl: Well, the popular girl’s best friend … cool by association. Tammi’s always bowed to peer pressure, but when the expectations become too much to handle, will she finally stand up for herself?
The politician’s daughter: Gillian’s dad is one of the most recognisable people in the state and she’s learning the hard way that life in the spotlight comes at a very heavy price.
Five unlikely teammates thrust together against their will. Can they find a way to make their final year a memorable one or will their differences tear their world apart?