Profile: Sarah Ayoub of Wordsmith Lane.

 

In The Scarlett Woman’s first profile, I interview Wordsmith Lane and Chasing Aphrodite creator Sarah Ayoub about blogging, brides and books.

How long have you been blogging at Wordsmith Lane and what made you decide to start a blog?

The idea came to me in June 2009, and the blog officially launched (if you will) in July 2010. I decided to start a blog because I wanted to do something when I was not writing, especially because I was no longer working full-time and I sort of wanted to chronicle my writing journey.

What has been your proudest writing-related achievement to date?

It’s hard to say. Getting published in madison was a high for me, because it is what I consider a high-brow women’s publication. I guess being asked to be a host/panellist at events held by organisations like the Walkley Foundation and The Emerging Writer’s festivals was also a massive achievement for me.

And your proudest non-writing achievement?

This is going to sound silly, but getting engaged! I tend to worry about commitment.

How are preparations going for your wedding?

They are, I must say, proceeding very well considering the timing. I am indebted to my sisters though. My advice to everyone is to send out invites via email, or at least don’t go the DIY option. It’s a pain in the butt. I really wanted to have a big Lebanese wedding, but this one seems to be going along more to my parents’ agenda than my own. Serves me right for being their first born!

How did your appointment to bridal blogger for Bride to Be come about?

I basically pitched the idea to them and they bought it. It was as simple as that, which is why I try to be encouraging to my blog readers. Anything can happen if you try.

Your name has popped up on some other blogs (namely Musings of an Inappropriate Woman) in relation to workaholism and the work/life balance. How do you balance all your commitments?

I don’t. Something always gives out, like nights in front of the TV or deadlines for my thesis. I don’t have the time management thing down pat yet, and considering the size of my family, I don’t have a lot of time to myself either. I am hoping things will settle down a little after the wedding.

What is your favourite way to unwind?

Reading. Watching movies in my PJs and eating copious amounts of food works wonders.

Because most bloggers blog about things they’re passionate about, as I know both you and I do, do you find sometimes it’s a chore to churn out articles, book reviews and the like, as previously you would do those things for pleasure? Because that’s definitely something I struggle with from time to time.

I guess my readers can tell when I do something for pleasure because I gush about it, whether it’s a book or make-up and I do think I come across as fairly honest. If it’s not something I am interested in, it doesn’t get a review. Just a mention that it’s out and what it’s supposed to be about. I definitely think I should perhaps cut down to blogging about quality though. I really need to prioritise, as the blog doesn’t really provide a return investment for me at this stage, and there are some more pressing things to worry about, like my thesis, my freelancing and definitely my novel.

What are some of your favourite blogs?

I read Girl with a Satchel religiously, and follow Rachel Hills because she makes me feel smart. Once or twice a week, I read The Blog Stylist, Sarah Wilson and Holly J Curtis’ Am I There Yet? I’ve just got onto Nicole Haddow’s blog after a reader recommended it to me and I read Megan Burke’s Literary Life (she is my intern and she blogs about the creative writing industry which is good for me, as I’d like to get into it soon). And I love the way Liv Hambrett writes at A Big Life. I think I am her biggest fan, and I doubt that she knows how talented she is. She literally makes me see the world through different coloured glasses.

What advice do you have for other bloggers?

Write, network and comment on other blogs. Shamelessly promote on Twitter. And do it for love not money, at least in the beginning. It’s a lot of hard work.

And finally, where do you see yourself, writing-wise, in the future?

My dream job would be able to live off freelancing as a full-time features writer, while working on my novels in between and maybe doing something once a week on TV or radio. That’s not necessarily where I see myself, as opposed to where I would like to see myself.

Emerging Writers Festival: Stuck in a Lift With… Rachel Hills & Gala Darling

Being a recent expat to Melbourne, I am now relishing in the fact that I can go to an after work event, weekend market or party and not have to worry about getting the last train out of Sydney Melbourne back to the country.

However, with the advent of Twitter, anyone wearing pyjama pants can gain access to this week’s Emerging Writers Festival from the comfort of their lounge room/bed, with events all over the city as well as today’s “Stuck in a Lift With… Gala Darling” by Rachel Hills.

Hills is using the “magical bookstore” format, and each floor corresponds to Gala’s favourite book.

However, it’s not always smooth sailing, with followers interjecting their questions and comments. For a first time Twitter user, it was a bit overwhelming!

So here, in a nutshell that I have so lovingly crunched the questions into, are Hills’ 10 questions and Gala Darling’s 10 answers.

  • “What’s the first book you ever read?”

– “HAD to have been the Spot series… I also remember loving The Very Hungry Caterpillar… I really loved all that very British stuff too, like Enid Blyton & Peter Rabbit…”

  • “Are there any other kids books that you remember or are fond of?”

– “I was mad keen on the Faraway Tree series… But I was really a voracious reader, would come home from the library every Saturday with an enormous stack of books & devour them throughout the week before going back for more. Babysitters Club, Sweet Valley High, horror stories, anything spooky or supernatural or American! I was obsessed with America & their slumber parties & junk food & always felt like I was missing out being stuck in boring old New Zealand…”

  • “What were your other fave teen/coming of age books?

– “I loved Judy Blume for talking about sex… It’s weird actually, I feel like I moved from Judy Blume to Poppy Z. Brite but SURELY that’s not right. I think Anne Rice might have been the stepping stone. & Stephen King?

  • “You do a lot of travellingwhat books do you like to take with you when you’re away from home?”

– “Depends on how long I’m away from home. The types of holidays I have don’t usually leave much time for reading! But I have moved house many times and I always take Fear & Loathing in Las Vegas & Lolita with me!… But usually when I travel I take the mags I haven’t yet caught up on (ughh I know), or what I’m reading at the time… No guilty faves really. I haven’t read a tabloid in years because they make me angry, haha! I love pretty much every fashion magazine though… You know what? I buy 99% of my books secondhand on Amazon. IT’S SO CHEAP. I can’t stand to pay full retail. Bad Gala!”

  • “Is there a book you turn to when things get emotional?”

– “I guess it depends on what the ‘emotion’ is. I love to comfort read, aka read stuff I know off by heart… Actually when I’m feeling emotional or moody I prefer to watch television. Entourage or SATC work every time… Lolita, Fear & Loathing, anything Bukowski, American Psycho, umm Lost Souls (shhhh)…”

  • “You’re a hugely successful writer. Is there a book that helped you learn your craft?”

– “I love Anne Lamott. There is something so brilliant, clear & deep in her writingit is impeccably crafted. The first time I read Bird by Bird I thought my head was going to explode, & I have read it over & over. I’m also really interested in Zen Buddhism so that helps! I also like Natalie Goldberg, but don’t read lots of books on writing.”

  • “What book has taught you the most from a NON-writing perspective?”

– “Oh, big question! I feel like every book teaches you something, whether it’s how to live wilding (Fear/Loathing!) or bet on horses (Buk.!), but I guess if I could only recommend one book for life lessons, it would be The Success Principles by Jack Canfield. It is a frigging marvel. Every time I pick it up I learn something new… It is as thick as a bible, all about manifesting & integrity & keeping your word & stuff, I can’t describe!”

  • “What books have kept you late into the night?”

– “Haha, pretty much every book I’ve ever loved. I was a secretly-reading-under-the-covers child. I remember reading the Neverending Story one day (yes, one DAY!) when I had the flu & was about 10, fantastic. So it may not have kept me through the night but it certainly compelled me.”

  • “What book do you wish you had written?”

– “Ugh, Lolita. It’s like a braingasm. Every time I read it I am shocked at just HOW fucking good it is.”

  • “What book do you return to again and again?”

– “All the books I have just mentioned, plus anything by SARK, Russell Simmons’ Do You!, Dangerous Angels by Francesca Lia Block, Fear of Flying by Erica Jong, Grapefruit by Yoko Ono, House of Leaves…

I wish someone would ask me these questions should I ever have the fearful pleasure of being stuck in an elevator. I so have the answers!