We celebrate International Writer’s Day this week and invited FunDza writer Amanda Ngema to tell us about how she engages with the world in her role as writer.

Tell us how your relationship with FunDza came about.

My relationship with Fundza began when I met my mentor Sifiso. I told him about my love for writing and he helped me publish my first poem.

What about Chatsworth has influenced your writing/ makes you pick up your pen?

Growing up without my mother, and living with relatives, dug a deep hole in my heart and I express my emotions in writing. The place I was living in was full of crime and sad stories I witnessed every day. Some of my stories are related to my experience but some I just make up as part of the creative process.

You say writing helps you express your feelings. What do you think it is about transposing your feelings onto paper/ the screen, that helps you deal with them?

When I write about something that is bothering me, I feel like I’m facing it fearlessly rather than trying not to think about it. Writing also gives me an opportunity to pass a message and educate people.

Do you find that the discipline of editing – the crossing of “t’s” and dotting of “i’s” – helps make you forget your woes/ the intensity of your feelings? As you write about yourself, it becomes less about yourself and more about this craft, writing… ?

Not really; because if it’s my story I need to make sure it’s a good one and it sends the message clearly to the reader. When I edit it’s a way to make my story a good one.

In your story “Hustle to Hope”, your setting depicts a kitchen in a home that is poor, and in which sweet potatoes constitute the evening meal. How much do you rely on your lived experience vs fantasy when you write? How does the alchemy of melding it all together work for you?

When I was growing up my family could afford a simple living, but I didn’t get everything I wanted. Some months were better than others; but I saw that of my friends were in worse situations. I think 50% of my writing is my lived experiences and 50% is my imagination.

You write only in isiZulu. Was this a conscious decision?

When a story idea crosses my mind, it’s always in IsiZulu as IsiZulu is my home language. I love reading IsiZulu stories. That is why I decided to write in IsiZulu.

If you enjoyed this, you may like reading about the word artist Aphiwe Magida here

Tell us: Have you found that writing about things around you helps you process your emotions and work through your experiences?