Anzil Kulsen visits the Department of Afrikaans

Posted on September 30, 2016


Anzil Kulsen is known mainly as a writer of juvenile literature and some of her books have been prescribed for third-year students. During her recent visit to the Department of Afrikaans, she warned prospective writers as follows: 'Writing is not easy. Don't think you can simply sit down and write a story because there's nothing else you want to do. You will have to work!'

Anzil, who is a project leader at the ATKV, was born in Keimoes in the Northern Cape and lives in Upington. Her books generally deal with the experiences of young female characters from the Northern Cape. She made her debut in 2006 with the sensational short novel Zita (Lapa, 2006), of which more than 20 000 copies were sold. This was followed by 'n Hart vol sand (Lapa, 2015) and Sorrie maak nie gesond nie (Naledi, 2015). Her other published works include collections of short stories and magazine articles.

In her address she spoke, among other things, about her childhood years at Keimoes, her time at university, her writing and the experiences of writers and their publishers. During the question and answer session that followed, she answered questions asked by members of the audience as follows:

'I read everything I can get my hands on. One has to know what is happening in the market. You have to know what other authors in your genre have written. Your language usage must be good and you must have a reasonably good vocabulary. When you use spellings that differ from the normal way words are written, you have to know the correct spelling.'

'I prefer writing for young adults, rather than for teenagers. When I write short stories, I prefer to write for adults. I recently submitted a novel aimed at the adult market to a publisher.' Then, laughing, she added: 'If you all pray seriously for me, my adult novel might just be accepted for publication.'

In response to the question about whether she ever experienced writer's block, she said: 'Certainly, but then I simply let the story rest. I never force a story. I allow the characters to develop in my brain. I take time off to mix with people and quite often I find that ideas come to me in the middle of a conversation. It works!'

With regard to the recording of typical Northern Cape words and language usage, she mentioned that while writing her more recent books, she had become increasingly aware of the differences between standard Afrikaans and the regional variants. 'There are numerous words and expressions that need to be recorded. To mention but one example: in our area, we use the word “kroek” as a derogative term when referring to a residential area such as a location or township. Used in this sense the word is of course not widely understood in other areas, as it is generally used to refer to an untrustworthy person or a crook.'

Finally, she answered a question about the autobiographical nature of her work as follows:

'Some of my work, for example Zita, does contain autobiographical elements. However, generally this is not the case – and specifically not in my more recent work.'



- Author Hein Willemse

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