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with Fungisayi Sasa
October 06, 2011
One of her short
stories was published in the anthology, Writing Free (Weaver Press,
2011) while her poems have appeared in places that include the Poetry
International Web and Spilt Milk Magazine.
did you start writing?
My dad unwittingly
led me to writing during my early childhood years. He was very firm
about studying and, as children, we weren't allowed to watch television
during the week. And he would often take us to the local library.
At first, I
didn't like these visits to the library because reading felt like
work to me. But eventually I started enjoying it and through reading,
my passion for writing grew and I started writing poems and short
stories about my family and the annoying things they would have
done to me. Instead of ranting and raving at them when they made
me angry, I would write a story about them or write an angry poem.
Writing was therapeutic.
When I was in
Zimbabwe, writing was simply a hobby, I didn't think I could go
anywhere with it. Even though I read many books, my mind didn't
grasp the concept that I could be a writer.
When the political
situation in Zimbabwe forced my family to flee to the United Kingdom,
I found loads of career opportunities that included writing. I studied
creative writing at the University of Bedfordshire and with guidance
and support from my lecturers, I sharpened my skills. I gained the
confidence to send my work out and I found that the thing with writing
and becoming published is that you have to push and persevere.
I used to spend
hours trawling websites and writing down their details, sending
work by post or e-mail - hoping that somebody would be interested.
I even used to write work specifically tailored for particular magazines
and websites. I sent my work out to so many places and received
so many rejections but I didn't let this deter me. I was motivated
because I knew that my work was of a suitable standard. If I was
asked to make changes, I would.
your experiences influenced your writing in any way?
experiences are everything when it comes to my writing.
Some of my characters
have my personal traits. They talk the way I do.
My writing flows
more easily if it comes from my own personal perspective. For example,
in the short story, "Eyes On", which was published in
Writing Free, the idea of stalking came from the fact that when
I am on Facebook, I cannot randomly go on a person's profile and
check out what they are doing because, to me, it feels like I am
would also appear that one of the wonders of modern technology and
social networking sites is they appear to have normalised stalking
to such an extent that we are not disturbed when we are followed
around. It is probably because of this 'miracle' that the main character
in "Eyes On", isn't alarmed when he realises that he
is being followed.
are the most difficult aspects?
anything is always difficult. The first sentence is always important
to me. It has to make the right impact. If it doesn't, I can't continue.
I can write
three pages but if the first sentence of the story or book isn't
quite right, I will delete it all.
I don't start
writing until the sentence sounds right in my mind. And while I
wait for that, I plot the story in my mind and concentrate on characterization.
I enjoy most come after I have finished the work because while I
am writing, I can't quite see the piece as a whole. The great thing
about finishing a piece is that I can dive back into it and start
editing and tweaking it.
are your main concerns as a writer?
Is every word
relevant and important? This is what I keep asking myself. This
is because as I write I can see a word repeated over and over again.
When I see this happening, I remember the time, in my primary school,
when my Grade 4 teacher said, "So, then and got are barred
from society." And there was this picture of a man behind
bars and that phrase was written underneath.
I usually overcome
repetitions like these by reading my work out aloud. If the writing
flows well and each word sounds right, I am happy. If not, I tweak
it a little bit.
motivating myself to write is really difficult. Some days I look
at the computer and I think, "No, not yet.." It's not
writer's block because the ideas are there, always buzzing in my
will you write about next?
Baboons . . .
I am working on a re-write of a children's book that I completed
sometime ago. I am doing this because I realised the story would
work better if it was about humans. I am not saying the baboons
evolve into humans, but that when I first wrote the story, I could
see humans in my mind but I forced the story into being one about
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