Why I write – Jody Sabral

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By Jody Sabral

One of the questions my agent asked during our first meeting was: ‘Why do you write?’ My answer was simple, ‘Because I wouldn’t know how not to.’ After that we made a deal. ♥

Of course, finding an agent isn’t that simple, but it was an honest answer to an honest question and a partnership was born. Full disclosure here, I had upwards of sixty-five rejections by agents before I found ‘the one’. It was a journey of perseverance and finally relief, a bit like writing a novel.

They say there is a book in everyone, but I’m not sure because sitting on your own in a room with only yourself to contend with for long periods of time is actually quite frightening. It can lead to procrastination of the worst kind, moments of serious self-doubt, but it can also lead to amazing breakthroughs of self-discovery through overcoming it. I write most days, when I’m not navigating the BBC foreign desk, where I work as an editor.

My stories are inspired by the human experience, mostly my own. Everything is material to a writer. We like to ruminate on life and the meaning of it. We like to get to the heart of people’s motives. We even like to think we’ve figured it all out only later to realise that we haven’t and we are right back at the beginning again. ‘The story’ is an endless source of joy and pain. A puzzle we must solve.

Having lived and worked in Istanbul for almost a cade I decided to return to the UK and retrain by doing an MA in Creative Writing at City University. That’s where the transformation began from journalist to creative writer. My external moderator marking that book which was my thesis went as far as saying, ‘If she could string a proper sentence together she might have half a chance.’ I took it as a challenge. I’d won the Debut Dagger. I couldn’t be that bad.

There are a number of reasons I think I write. Firstly, I’m fascinated by people. They excite me, inspire me, bore me, screw me over. They make me feel all kinds of emotions from the best to the worst and it is in the reflection of these experiences through writing that I hope I gain a deeper insight into the human disposition. They say writing is therapeutic. It can be. Perhaps that’s why writers think they know it all, because they are finely tuned to explore the depths of being human, of the imagination. It’s something that other animals can’t do. To seek out a truth because in that there is a moment of kindness and compassion we can hold on to in a world that can be so cruel.

Perhaps we’re just obsessed with being constantly connected to another world, our imagination. A world we have created and ultimately control. There’s a kind of peace in that. In being able to shape your own narrative. There’s also a sense of achievement in knowing you’ve climbed another mountain of words to survive another day. A friend and social psychologists believes to be happy in life we all need a mortality project of some kind. Perhaps writing is mine, but perhaps it’s just something I don’t know how not to do.

Jody Sabral is based between the South Coast and London, where she works as a Foreign Desk editor and video producer at the BBC. She is a graduate of the MA in Crime Fiction at City University, London. Jody worked as a journalist in Turkey for ten years, covering the region for various international broadcasters. She self-published her first book Changing Borders in 2012 and won the CWA Debut Dagger in 2014 for her second novel The Movement. In addition to working for the BBC, Jody also writes for the Huffington Post, Al–Monitor and Brics Post. I Never Lie is out now, published by Canelo.


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