Goodenough Mashego is a journalist, writer, artists, poet, publisher and a script writer based in Mpumalanga. In addition to Just Like Space Cookies, he has written two other poetry collections; Journey With Me and Taste of My Vomit. Goodenough’s films have been screened on Mzansi Magic’s Lokshin Bioskop. His poetry, short stories and opinion columns have featured in publications such as Timbila, Botsotso, DRUM, True Love, Something Quarterly, Laugh it Off, Sunday World, City Press, INSIG and New Coin. We asked him a few questions about writing.
Did you always want to become a writer?
I grew up around a lot of books; Black Beauty, Don Quixote, Color Purple etc. I have always been fascinated by the power of words to transform and inform. So, I knew I was destined to be a writer the moment I discovered the written word.
How did you get interested in writing poetry in particular?
I believe it started in primary school with recitations such as ‘All Things Bright and Beautiful’, ‘Die Toespraak van Gagool’ and ‘Sala Y Gomez’. It grew later when I discovered Tribute magazine which had a poetry page. I actually got published there first. Then there was a journal called Something Quarterly. Between this journal and Tribute I became a published writer. I knew I wanted to write poetry the moment I noticed I was opinionated.
What are some of the challenges you faced to get your book published?
Actually, I didn’t face any challenges since I have always been realistic about the nature of the publishing industry in this country. Half the stuff we get is vanity publishing. So I knew that a hardcore book like mine didn’t stand a chance so I never bothered. I would say the only small challenge is funding. In a country not known for quality literature post-apartheid we shouldn’t be spending our own money to make books the country will brag about if they win international awards. The taxpayer must pay for this production of knowledge.
How much of your work reflect your life?
I would say two thirds of my work reflects the first person; me. The remaining third is my interpretation of society and the world. I write to reflect. I also write to interpret. At most I write to get off, call it vomit, ejaculation or self-mutilation. It’s my way of self-exorcism. So, ja, my work is to a larger extent autobiographical.
What advice would you give aspiring writers?
To love what they are doing and never mistaken being a writer with being a celebrity. They must produce even when there’s no commissioning. I would also advise them to shy away from thinking they are the most important species in the world; the readers are. Finally, they must write, sense and nonsense. It will be worth something someday.
What’s the best thing about being a writer?
I think being blessed with a God-complex is one of them. The ability to create, stand close to and divorce yourself from your work when you want to. As a writer I can be anything I want to be without evoking the negative energy you transmit when you become something negative outside the realms of writing. I can kill, steal, rape, and be corrupt without consequence. So, that’s the beauty of writing, including influencing national discourse in a certain space.
What are you working on now?
I am currently working on a direct to DVD film called Ke Tsotsone II; it’s a sequel to my 2012 release. I am also putting together a Bantu Letters Words & Voices CD, made up of poets who grace Mpumalanga events which is due in October. Otherwise I’m busy marketing Just Like Space Cookies and a music artist from my Lepulana Musik label. I’m also blogging and writing essays.
If you were to write a book about your life what would the title be?
Tattoos On My Heart