WOMEN AND ADVERSITY
FOR THOSE WHO HAVE HIT A BARRIER IN THEIR WRITING, RULA JEBREAL OFFERS WAYS TO BREAK DOWN THOSE BARRIERS
Rula Jebreal, International Journalist, Author, Foreign Policy Analyst
I featured Rula Jebreal and her background on this blog in August 2016 (link: https://wp.me/p4szxH-yQ) after reading her semi-autobiographical novel Miral. Her multi-cultural background inspired me to write to her in June 2017, and she answered my questions the next day. I’ve kept her answers this long, wishing to have a very special time to post them, and that time has come.
Here’s what Ms. Jebreal has to say.
JAM: What was the biggest challenge you had to overcome when you decided to be a writer?
RJ: One decides to write, and then one becomes a writer.
For me, writing poses a physical and metaphysical challenge. First, there is the physical challenge of toil and solitude. I enjoy the company of intelligent human beings – and I also love reading widely. To write my own novel, I had to forego the company of both humans and books!
Second, on a spiritual level, a writer must come to terms with the importance, depth, and duty of saying something to the world that is both true and inspirational. I write out of a sense of responsibility to do something positive for the world I inherited, to carry forward the hopes of the women who came before me, and to instill them in the women who will come after. I try to convey my experiences and the realities of the Middle East to English-speaking, Western readers. I want my writing to take readers on a journey of understanding, to be a bridge and a boat where people connect around shared values of dignity, quality, tolerance, free speech, liberty and inclusiveness. So I feel an obligation to write honestly, truthfully and respectfully about the personal and the political, about the aspirations and the dreams of my nations and the multitudes of cultures and identities that live within me.
JAM: What is the biggest challenge you face now after garnering so many credits as a writer?
RJ: The biggest challenge is the expectation that every book must be as successful and impactful as the first book. My first book, Miral, launched a global debate, changed perceptions and projected hope where the situation seemed hopeless. That success created pressure as I began to write again. Sometimes, when I’m lost in the storm and can’t find a way forward, I find I must write without direction until a path emerges. It always will, and in this way I transcend the fears of failure.
There’s another challenge that comes with success: Writing and publishing a book can change the writer. One meets new people, goes to new places and finds new places within, too. How do I remain true to my own inner journey between East and West, while still writing sincerely and objectively about the issues that really matter? I have found that I can ground myself in my past, in my roots, in the places and people that collectively form my Home. They are my True North, and they guide me as I navigate the undiscovered territories that come with each new book.
TO READERS: What did Ms. Jebreal say that touches you? that inspires you to continue writing? that changes your course on the path to writing success? Post your comments below or send me an email with your thoughts at email@example.com.