Part One: Behind the Scenes with Sally Little

Jacobs talks about writing the biography of Sally Little

David Bowie was interviewed and asked about his creative process. He said that his best works came from those moments when his toes could not feel the bottom of the pool – when he was outside his comfort zone.

When the opportunity to do the biography of Sally Little, world champion golfer, came along, that’s was exactly how I felt: I was in deep waters and yet it was strangely appealing.

Just from my initial research about this sportswoman, her meteoric rise, the many tournaments she had won and still going strong despite her age, I was already beginning to develop an analogy, an outline of what her story meant and what it could mean.

Once that happened, I knew that this was a story that I wanted to capture. Here was an image that I wanted to paint. In that moment, I realised that this story would force me to draw on all my resourcefulness in a profound way.

One of those challenges for me as an anti-apartheid political activist from the 1980s, a product of the National Party forced removals from District Six to the Cape Flats, was whether I had the ability to have enough empathy, enough skill as a writer to capture the story of someone who broke the international sports boycott that helped bring down apartheid.

But it was also about whether I would be able to see Sally as more than just a sports celebrity. Would I be able to get her to tell me about herself, the side that fans may never see, without holding back? Would I be able to get her to trust me enough to share her story with the world?

I was embarking on a journey that had a clear destination, a published book of Sally Little’s biography. I was all packed and ready. What was not clear, however, was how this journey would unfold.

But I am a huge David Bowie fan, an activist from the 80s and I love swimming in deep waters…

One Comment Add yours

  1. Fatima says:

    looking forward to next installment , Adli. thank you for sharing your process

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