They spoke about their inspirations, writing process and about their work being categorised as ‘chick lit’.

Whats it like being a woman who writes humour These Bluru authors tell us
Features Humour Sunday, November 12, 2017 - 10:58

“Women can’t be funny” is a stereotype that women writers who write humour know all too well. Why? Because they’re met with this skepticism way too often.

So, what is it like being a woman author who writes humour? We have some answers, thanks to 'Bangalore Rani', a discussion organised by ShethePeople.tv with authors Andaleeb Wajid and Rachna Singh, moderated by Sunayana Roy.

Andaleeb is the author of 13 books including More Than Biryani and the Tamanna trilogy. She explores various themes — such as being a Muslim woman, ideas of beauty, romance and has even dabbled in sci-fi themes such as time travel. Rachna, on the other hand, is an HR professional, stand-up comic, mimicry artist and author of the hilarious Band Bajaa and Boys.

The discussion dabbled in various themes – the process of writing, the reactions and responses from readers as well as friends and family, and their inspirations behind the comedy. With anecdotes that made the humble audience of 20 people chuckle aplenty, the women provided interesting insights into the world of female comedy writers.

Weaving social issues and keeping it light

An incident which left the audience guffawing was when Rachna read out a passage from Band Bajaa and Boys. The parents of the protagonist realise they cannot have more children because of the mother’s “ladies’ problem”. The couple, then, is prescribed ridiculous solutions like chasing a running cow and feeding it a sweet to help with their conception. It also describes how the husband stops eating eggs so that his wife could get hers back.

“Not being able to conceive would be a deal breaker in many families. But the treatment here makes you laugh while also reflecting on the issue,” Sunayana pointed out.

For Andaleeb, putting humour or social issues into her stories isn’t a conscious decision. “They are all around me, so you can’t really escape. Inevitably, they become plot points in the stories. I don’t try to be funny consciously either,” she says.

Comedy is serious work

Rachna explained that there are many different forms to choose from – like satire, sarcasm and irony – and it includes a substantial amount of reading other comic authors’ works too.

Both of them agree that because they write humour, people expect it all the time.

“If I am sitting at a restaurant and the person serving tea spills it, everyone just turns around and looks at me, expecting a joke to make them laugh. But I just want my tea!” Rachna exclaims.

Andaleeb points out that because they are women writing humorous books, their content is not taken as seriously. “Many of the books I have written fall into ‘chick lit’. And people have a patronizing way of saying, ‘oh I don’t read those kinds of books.’ Why not? Don’t you like to have fun while reading?” she questions.

‘Chick lit’ is short for ‘chick literature’, a genre which is centred around a heroine and her journey. These books are often looked down upon and considered too ‘girly’.

“There is elitism when it comes to reading humour or ‘chick lit’. Many of us are closeted readers, but when we are in public, we want to be seen with the fattest book which has won the most awards,” Rachna argues.

What keeps them going

Rachna and Andaleeb said that there were plenty of times when genuine feedback from a reader has encouraged them to keep writing. “I wrote a book called Nuptial Knots on challenges and expectations of newly married couples. I came to know that a distant relative had bought 50-60 copies and gifted one to the couple at every wedding he went to. It really touched me,” Rachna said.

And contrary to popular belief that reviews on sites like Amazon and Goodreads are only for other readers, authors rely on them too! “I check my Amazon page every day to see if there is a new rating or review,” Andaleeb admitted and laughed.
 

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