by Rana Asfour
Meet Esther Jacoby, author of ‘New Life Cottage’ who has a marvellous theory. She believes that we are born with a daily number of words that need to be offloaded one way or the other, else we get ill. Some of us, she explains, choose to deplete their reserve through everyday speech. Others, like Jacoby herself who professes to a great passion for words and a large word count, have no other recourse but to turn to writing as their outlet of choice.
Jacoby is an author with many talents. A holder of a degree in maths, she has also received formal training in ballroom and Latin dancing as well as dabbling in a bit of belly dancing on the side too. For a time she worked as a care assistant for physically disabled adults and trained with the British Judo Squad Team. This is also a woman who looks to her herd of hippos (albeit plastic ones) as her lucky charm. Above all else, Jacoby identifies herself as a writer and author first and foremost recognizing the magic and power of storytelling from a very early age.
‘I grew up in Germany. And although my mum was a teacher I was a late developer when it came to writing and especially reading. In my class I was the last to read and was eight by the time I finally did. When I was thirteen, I had to take the bus each day to and from school because we lived out of town. Many nasty people would take the same commute and so to avoid any trouble I would read. One day, a girl on the bus asked me to read to her from my book so I did. Soon, I was reading to the whole bus. Everyone became engrossed in the stories including the bus driver. I discovered that not only did I have a voice that carried but that books had power and I too wanted to be a part of that’.
Jacoby moved to Abu Dhabi in 2015 as a freelance Oil and Gas Safety workshop expert. With over twenty years of experience that has taken her to many interesting places around the world such as Houston, London, Angola, and Qatar to name a few, it comes as no surprise when she mentions the indelible effect her experiences on the job have had on her writing.
‘A big part of my work involves writing a lot of reports with very tight deadlines with which to write them in. This has helped in training me to put on paper exactly what it is I want to say taking every effort to choose the right words in order to get it right from the very first try. But this technical approach to writing also means that when I come to edit my work, I am a timid re-writer, because I feel I have said what I want to say in the best possible way from the first go'.
'Thanks to the cyclical nature of my work,' she adds, 'I have free time in between jobs to write. Since moving to Abu Dhabi, I have completed and self-published my debut novel ‘New Life Cottage’ which I have wanted to do since I was seventeen years old. Within a week or so after that, I started on the second one ‘Boy in the Wardrobe’. Since then I have also written two other books ‘The Wait’ which is a love story based partly on real events and centres around a guy I was planning to marry and then dumped on the day I completed the book and ‘Slave’ which revolves around events in my husband’s life. However, the titles are working titles as the books, although completed, are yet unpublished because I’ve decided to try traditional publishing. I am looking for an agent who can make that possible’.
I enjoy a good murder mystery and have read most of Agatha Christie's work. I also enjoy Ian Rankin who I met twice in Houston. My favourite book of all time is 'The Loves and Journeys of Revolving Jones' by Leslie Thomas. I've read it five times' - Esther Jacoby on reading choices
About a year ago Jacoby joined the Abu Dhabi Writers’ Workshop in a bid to meet people who enjoyed the written word as much as she did and to share her work with serious people who were there to hone their craft.
‘Writing is hard work and you need to put in the time and dedication. Regardless of anything I am an author so for me, the workshop is like a busman’s holiday. I can go and get info as well as meet people with a similar interest. I also like the fact that there is no pressure at the workshop to write if I don’t want to.
I particularly enjoy the writing prompts we receive because they give me ideas to work on. In fact my fifth book ‘Why My Father Left My Mother’ which is a work in progress, sprung from one of the weekly prompts. The workshop is also a place to receive and to offer honest feedback on your work. It has been brilliant to watch less seasoned writers gain confidence and improve their writing each week’.
As many writers will agree, writing in the end is a very solitary process if writers are to make sense of the ideas and the images floating around in their head. Many draw inspiration from what goes on around them.
‘I get my ideas from life and love to ‘people watch’ all the time much like Charles Dickens. However, when I am about to sit down and write, I make sure to stay away from all distractions. Even my husband has to leave because he tends to interrupt my work. The first sentence may be slow but I have pictures in my head and know where the scene is going. Then I vomit the words on to the page and I’m on my way’.
The pure effort of writing is hard enough and many authors will agree that nothing makes it on to the page with ease never mind the nuances of setting targets, sticking to word quotas, and chiselling at a piece of work for long laborious hours in what can feel like self-imposed solitary confinement. All this can stop anyone from getting started.
‘My advice,’ says Jacoby ‘is to start. Don’t listen to anyone who tells you that you are wasting your time. Just write!’
To purchase 'New Life Cottage', click HERE. To listen to Esther read excerpts from all her books, you can visit her YouTube channel (ej.worldofwords) HERE
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