She, who fell in love with Words – Lizole.
August is known more commonly as Women’s month here in South Africa. I continue my search for fine South African lady talents and heroines, and this time I came across a talented author from The Eastern Cape in KwaTshatshu by the name of Lizole Jalajala.
Some of this author and book reviewer’s most notable work is that of her review of Michelle Obama’s book Becoming.
And also ‘Dear Bestie Bae’ which is a brilliant book, that is however yet to be published. In this interview I had with her, she shares with us how she, as a young girl ended up getting so far so early especially in Creative Writing. And I know we will all relate to her hopes, dreams, and ambitions.
Let’s dive in and get to know more about her.
You are most welcome on Exhortations With Shazzy, hahaha. How does that make you feel?
I am happy to be here with you Lebogang. It is thrilling and exciting.
You are a woman of many hats, and I am sure people relate/know you differently depending on the spaces you occupy. Briefly describe yourself.
Woman of many hats!! I like that. Well, I am turning 19 today, the 18th to be exact. I am what you call an open-minded curious girl that is yet to take up space in the world. Hahaha — at this point, that is how I can describe myself. I am a girl child with dreams and aspirations who believes that her superpower is storytelling, healing, and inspiring others.
What was an early experience where you learned that language had power?
Now that is a brilliant question. It has to be back in the Grade 2 classroom, where my teacher would give us an exercise to describe things from a magazine cut-out. So she (my teacher) had a box filled with magazines that she kept in a cupboard at the back of the class. She would ask us to cut out a picture from a magazine and write down what we saw. We had to be creative in our descriptions. We would do this in both English and IsiXhosa ( home language). From then on, a writing seed was planted in me. It was through those activities that I fell in love with words and language.
Does writing energize or exhaust you?
Whoa, a bit of both. It gives me energy when the story in my head keeps flowing and just typing away on my keyboard and getting lost in the creation of a new world. However, exhausting when I cannot seem to find the right words, to describe the image in my head. So yes it is a bit of both, but the results are always fulfilling even with the highs and lows.
Tell us about your journey in writing the story ‘I am in love with a sangoma’.
It is a story I plainly wrote on Facebook, and surprisingly, it got so much attention from the reading community and was loved by many. It has not been published yet, but hopefully, in the coming years, I will publish it.
She who fell in love
What is the first book that made you cry?
Oh my goodness, let me try and think back.
Keeper’s Daughter by Kim Edward is the first of many books that made me cry. I was 13 if not 14 when I first read it. I remember it well because I had borrowed it from my cousin, and she had gone through the most with it as well.
What are some of the traps for aspiring writers?
- I assume traps as in some dangers, right?
I had been lucky to have gone through a few of those myself as a young writer. And in getting my name out there.
Firstly: It would be mixing yourself with the wrong people in the field. There are some writers you would somewhat not associate yourself with because of hypocrisy and fakeness.
Secondly: Being vocal about what you do not like in someone else’s book as a writer yourself. Some of our Authors really cannot deal with criticism, they take that as you being hateful or you being against them where it is not the case.
What is the best way to market your books? Firstly build a community, by writing on Facebook first or visionary writings or Wattpad. So that when you officially publish the book, you at least have a community of people that you know will support you. Utilize fast-growing digital marketing. Social media marketing is crucial, as you can grow a following and showcase your work. Treat your book as your business, not just a book full of stories. Networking, attending book launches, workshops whenever you can, and always marketing yourself. I think that is what I can say so far, but I am learning as well. I am not an expert yet.
Is the pie big for anyone who would want to take writing as a profession?
There is a void for African authors. So yes, the pie is humongous and needs everyone with this gift and or skill to take a bite. The ones who have eaten so far, haven’t even made a dent.
I recently enjoyed how you reviewed Becoming by Michelle Obama, what lessons have you learned from the book?
Oh, I love that woman. I have learned quite a lot of lessons. The process of becoming and how growth keeps propelling us to keep learning. The power of storytelling, and how you can inspire people with your story. The art behind owning it, and embracing even the grimy parts in it. Through the book, I learned how important education is, how vital reading and striving for knowledge can play a role in someone’s life, especially a girl child. And one of the greatest lessons is how you never let your background define your future and look down on the power you have as an individual.
There are so many lessons to cover in one answer, I could write an essay about the lessons in there. Hahaha.
Name one author you would spend all your savings to meet. And why.
They are so many. It is a crime to choose one, but I would spend money to meet Michelle Obama. She is everything a woman can be. I do not think this question of why even needs an answer because the name of the person sums up the reasons hey.
What other authors are you friends with, and how do they help you become a better writer?
Quite a handful hey, I cannot mention them because I do not want to be getting texts of ‘Oh you did not mention me’ hahaha. I have quite a handful, and one thing they all have in common is just motivating me to keep going. Reminding me that in writing, you never stop growing and perfecting your craft at each story you write.
If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?
Well, I’m still my younger self hey … so it would be to keep going because I know my 30-year-old self will greatly be pleased when looking back.
Do you view writing as a kind of spiritual practice?
- Not necessarily, but when you look at it in a sense of creative writing, it is some kind of practice because all you do is tap into a particular dimension and create all these crazy stories that leave people in awe. So I would say it is some spiritual healing practice but not at the same time.
Would you confidently say you have found your purpose on earth? If yes, what is it, and how have you discovered it?
That is a tricky one because I am yet to discover more of myself. Before I can answer let me first grow and firstly discover other things that lie beyond writing. Who knows maybe, my purpose is to lead and be SA’s next Gen Z president, lol. But hey, I truly cannot confidently say I have found my purpose because I am still growing and discovering things about myself.
Should you be a millionaire, what would you do?
Oh, there is a lot that I want to do. One would be to invest in the building of schools, that offer quality education. And they are accessible to children that live in rural areas. Everything that I am yet to enforce will most definitely be aimed at rural development in more ways than the other, and empowering girls to never be afraid to dream.
What lessons have you learned during the pandemic?
That family is crucial. I realized that spending time with people you love is very important especially seeing how short life is. And also to never take for granted the time you have with people.
How do you keep your mental health intact in these trying times, despite writing of course?
My family keeps me sane, my brothers are my best friends, and we do all kinds of happy stuff together. So that has been helpful. Being surrounded by my tribe, and just being grateful to be living with my loved ones. The people that I know care for me as much as I do for them.
I recommend therapy any time, any day.Lizole
What is your take on women supporting other women?
Ma’am! I am all about that. When women come together and support each other, mountains are moved. I am a believer in the energy of women. The power they hold, and how we all just come through for each other at literally everything. I am all in for women.
I am with you on that one. Do you occasionally spend time in the kitchen? What’s your favorite dish?
Being the firstborn followed by three siblings, I spend most of my time in the kitchen. I have relatively several meals that I love. Samp and beans with Chicken are my number one followed by spaghetti Bolognese with cheddar cheese, and I most definitely love some dumplings with mutton stew.
Your dream vacation and why?
Oh, I would love to visit Greece. It is beautiful, inviting, and mesmerizing.
Any hidden talent – what is that one that we would not know about you, just by looking at you?
Well, writing was the hidden talent okay … so I really cannot think of any besides that.
In a relationship or ready to mingle? Hahaha
Aha, this was fun. So yes, I am single as a pringle.
Lastly, where to from here?
To growth! Traveling the world. To secure the degree and being educated. Using education to change a portion of what I can in the world. To discovering more of me, to grow and becoming.
Thank you for your time candy sister. You are an extraordinary person and thank you verily for joining us. Keep the creative writing juices flowing. I’m looking forward to reading more of your books. Good luck with your Bookstagram to be launched soon. And Happy Happy Birthday in advance. Yepppyyy.
Born and bred in King William’s Town in a small village called KwaTshatshu in the Eastern Cape, South Africa. She currently resides Grahamstown. She is a second-year student at Rhodes University doing a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology.
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