Today, we are excited to feature an amazing writer and author from South Africa! She always knew that her writing would make a difference in the world and now, she is doing just that. Enjoy her interview with us.
Hello, please introduce yourself
My name is Portia Keletliwe. I am a mother, author, and a businesswoman.
What do you do?
I provide publishing services; interview authors and entrepreneurs and provide a sales platform through Portia Kel. My commitment to the success of artists is reflected in the work that is done by Africans gala evening, an event I support through my skills and time. As the chairperson of the Southern African Region of the Phenomenal African Woman (PAW) Foundation, I have been tasked with ensuring that we achieve the PAW strategic intent. We Inspire, Celebrate and Empower African women through PAW.
Why did you choose to write or what led you to writing?
While I was in high school, I used writing as an outlet to deal with challenging life experiences. I would write to share my secrets with myself and communicate inwardly in the form of writing a report of life events or wishes for the future. I spent most of my spare time alone, thinking and that became my training on analytical thinking. There was a deep conviction in me that I would write to make a difference in this world. A year before my high school life, I attended an “upgrading program” and we used to visit the library every Friday to sit and read during school hours. This experience shaped the way I would do things for the rest of my life. In high school, I had a very strict English teacher and none of us were good enough for him because he had high standards.
Something about my high school life made me fall in love with books. I did not read the 40 books that we were required to read per year, neither did I finish my prescribed English books, but I fell in love with literature without even being aware. There was a constant seriousness of an effort to give us information and knowledge (that was my high school life)!
While I was working for the bank in the Learning and Development department, one of the training interventions that I attended inspired me to think about what I had wanted to do for a long time and just go and ensure that I do it. In 2009, I was full of energy and determination; I wrote a book that I have never published. I did not publish the book because it received a lot of criticism (not feedback) from those close to me at work and at home. Later in that year, I wrote a book titled “Dreams” and this was after my first job application to join the Design and Development team within the Learning and Development department was not successful. I was a facilitator at that time. My desire to become an author had become unstoppable. The only reason I wanted to join a department that writes training material while I was working for the bank was so that I could get ready for the world. I could imagine people wanting to know who this author is and what she knows about writing. I wanted a department that would become my training ground.
Can you tell us your most rewarding moment as a writer?
When I receive feedback about the impact that my book had on someone’s life, I celebrate as though nothing else is important in life!
Have you ever been rejected as a writer and how did you handle it?
Someone attempted to challenge my message and I chose to remain composed. Everyone will react to information based on their knowledge and experiences; most importantly, if the message is not for you, you will not understand it for its intended purpose.It goes without saying that in the five years that I spent writing training material, I always received feedback. I was responsible for the content and had to take appropriate actions to improve what I had put together.
Will you ever retire from writing?
Retire from writing? Impossible! I keep falling in love with my vocation daily.
If you could change one thing about yourself what would it be?
I have learnt that there is either enjoyment or a tough lesson in our experiences. Very often our experiences are linked to the way we do things. I keep learning from the good and bad and I cannot think of one thing I would want to change about myself. The art of writing keeps showing me that there is a purpose for many things.
What do you do in your leisure time?
I spend as much time as I can with my family, study the Bible and I always make time to listen to some Gospel music. I love watching movies. Some of the things I do while on duty seem like leisure, for example, talking and attending a variety of events.
What would you pick;
Continental Food or African Delicacy? African Delicacy
R&B or Hip/hop? R&B
Fiction or poetry? Poetry
Fashion or music? Music
Do you consider writing as work or pleasure and why?
Writing is work when I get paid for what I have published and it’s pleasure when I keep writing daily and sharing the information knowing that no one is going to pay me for it.
Your best article or story so far?
20 Beautiful Women Africa Edition, chapter 10 titled “The pain is gone now”. I wrote that chapter as a writer and not a person who was in the process of something (like healing); I wrote that chapter as a reporter with the intention to share some South African History and Politics through the eyes of a 10-year-old up until this 10-year-old became an adult.
Any last words for upcoming writers?
There are many things to write about and you have to be specific about what your objective is and what is of importance to you.