Thursday is always an exciting day on the Sparkle Blog because we celebrate the outstanding work of writers. Today, we are celebrating Sumayya Lee. Enjoy her interview with us.
Hello, please introduce yourself
Hi – my name is Sumayya Lee.
What do you do?
I have been a teacher for most of my life but I am also a mother and writer. I am also involved in the Writivism Literary Initiative – a pan-African initiative that works with emerging writers on the continent.
You have authored two books can you explain how the journey has been?
The dream began when I was a teenager, so in a word – long – but also a wonderful and incredible learning curve.
What do you love most about being a writer?
The freedom to daydream about the worlds and characters of my imagination and the fact that reading for pleasure is also part of the job
What would you say is the biggest challenge facing the writing industry?
That’s a question for the industry. I am the kind of writer who prefers to hide away from the business side of things and just focus on writing. But in Africa, I believe the greatest challenge is distribution
Where is the weirdest place you have ever gotten inspiration?
While down on my knees scrubbing the kitchen floor!
How rewarding has writing been for you?
Having a lifelong dream fulfilled and seeing your work in print, in stores, in libraries is all rewarding. However, two things are especially so: those who’ve said that my work was the first novel they’ve ever read and those who’ve said that my work has brought them joy and uplifted their spirits.
What’s the worst thing anyone has said about your article or book?
That my books should be burnt.
Will you ever retire from writing?
I hope not – I believe writing is one of those professions that you can keep at until the end.
What do you do in your leisure time?
Apart from reading? Taking long walks…spending time with family and friends, visiting museums and the theatre, relaxing on the beach (when the weather permits).
What advice would you give your younger self?
Don’t take rejection to heart but rather see it as encouragement to improve. Don’t plan too much – life has a way of meandering at its own pace.
Writing is a process – the first draft is crucial, but only the beginning.
Do you consider writing as work or pleasure and why?
When it’s going well – an absolute pleasure. But it is work – and it does require many many hours of work.
Any last words for upcoming writers?
Keep writing and read, read and read some more. A first draft is never perfect (even if it feels that way) and if you are fortunate enough to receive feedback on your work, accept it with humility and grace so that your story can achieve its potential.