The Portfolio: Makanaka Mavengere-Munsaka

 

 

I was in accounting for 14 years and then I became a writer. I knew from the time I was a kid that I wanted to write books, but then life happened and I ended up in finance.

What prompted me to write was a friend of mine who, in 2010, sent me a message saying: “Makanaka, I am still waiting for the book.” It then prompted me to say: “You know what? I forgot about this dream I had to write this book.”

It also happened at a time when I didn’t know whether I was going through some postnatal stuff or what, because I had so many voices inside my head, literally. I used to write whatever it was down. So I created the characters because I knew what the story was going to be. I knew that these ladies were not connected, so I needed the glue to make them exist in the same book, on the same pages.

I also had a domestic worker who came in twice a week and she would tell me what was happening in the next house. Then it clicked to me that if I have four fictional ladies who don’t know each other and this lady — the domestic worker in real life — is telling me what is happening in their houses, she is obviously also going to tell them what is happening in the other houses.

So that is how Perfect Imperfections came about.

And the story of Maxine was kinda like my journey to say I am leaving accounting. So when she moves from this abusive relationship to go into town, it’s like me leaving accounting to venture into this unknown space of writing.

I didn’t have a degree in writing. The only thing that I had was the passion and the characters that I had already created.

So when you follow Maxine’s story and how she works with these different women and finding out all of these women’s stories, it’s kind of like a metaphor of what I went through.

Some of them were personal experiences but the book is not about me. There are certain aspects of situations that had happened to me that I just brought out. There were some stories that I heard on the train, some stories that I heard in the book club and when I was sitting with other ladies — the usual complaints that we’d have. It got to a point where, if I was driving, I would park on the side of the road to start jotting things down. I had receipts with stuff written on them. I had little books with so much stuff written in them so I could keep the information. Sometimes I’d have to go to the bathroom to record on my phone — or just write notes.

The only people who saw the dark side of me were my children, when I was taking them to school or in the night. It was either I would just start talking on my phone or just start writing.

Makanaka Mavengere-Munsaka is the author of Perfect Imperfections (Blackbird Books)

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