The rise of female writing has led us to many fascinating stories that we can all relate to. But do women tell stories differently? Early Indian novelists Ashwiny Iyer Tiwari and Anindita Ghose reflect on this. Does a woman write or tell stories only as a woman or do she speak from other social positions? How does a gender perspective in writing make the storytelling richer and deeper? All of these conversations were alive at ShePeople Women Writer’s Fest, which is the world’s largest gathering of Indian and international writers discussing the power of writing and stories.
SheThePeople founder Shaili Chopra was in conversation with early novelists Ashwiny Iyer Tiwari and Anindita Ghose who revealed their journeys as writers.
Why Anindita Ghose chose to write
Anindita Ghose debuted as a writer with The Illuminated. She thanks author Arundhati Roy for inspiring her to write a book. “I’ve always wanted to write. I want to thank one woman writer in particular for making me believe that as an Indian I could write a book that hopefully could travel the world. I was 13 when The god of little things was out. ”She added that she was a voracious reader because being a younger sister, she would read anything her older brother read.
The god of little things was the first book by an Indian woman that she read. Since Roy was someone Ghose could relate to, she found her inspiring. Ghose began her career as a journalist and writer. Her journey as a novelist began in 2015 when she started writing her book.
Ashwiny Iyer Tiwari talks about her writing experience
Renowned filmmaker Ashwiny Iyer Tiwari, well known for films like Nil Battey Sannata, Bareilly Ki Barfi, Panga etc. made her debut as a novelist with Map love. For her, Reader’s Digest was the place where she could read writings from all over the world. “To me, Reader’s Digest was where I got to read a lot of writing from all over the world here, ”she said.
Coming from a family of teachers, she could not easily make art or writing a profession. She therefore turned to the field of commercial art which would pay her well. But she always wanted to put her words on paper. She believes that whether or not others like our work, it is ultimately our journey that we express through our writing.
Divide between personal life and characters
When asked if their books reflect their personal experiences, Ghose made an important observation. “Someone gets the impression that men write from a pure imagination but women tap into their own lives,” she said. While writing, she said however, she found inspiration in the people around her. “I think everything comes from the life around me and yet nothing comes from the life around me. It is very difficult to draw that line.
When designing her characters and their journeys, says Iyer Tiwari, she felt that writing was fictional and sometimes it was through real life experiences. In his view, character development takes a journey in the mind and on paper. It also depends on how the writers want to design the whole trip. She develops her characters keeping in mind what readers expect of them. She also applies this same theory to her films.
The mother-daughter relationship in the illuminated
Ghose pointed out that female characters in novels written by men are always described as “good” or “bad”. They are very framed and not superimposed. Now that more and more women are becoming writers, the mother-daughter relationship is called to be explored. It is the primary relationship that a woman shares with another woman. Her idea was to show women finding their identity from the point of view of two women. The mother and daughter in her book helped her show two different points of view of generational change or privilege. As more and more women turn to writing, the mother-daughter relationship can now be explored in all its ambiguity and grayness.
Was reading important in the life of Ashwiny Iyer Tiwari?
the Nil Battey Sannatta The director believes in reading all kinds of books because the stories come from everywhere. It is important to understand the writing process in all of its forms. Reading has therefore been an important aspect of its growth. However, in the past few years, she hasn’t read a lot of books because she didn’t want to be influenced by other novelists when writing her book.
The secret of the ‘moon’ in the illuminated
Anindita Ghose’s novel was originally supposed to be called The moons of their lives. Even the cover of the book shows the moon in its various stages. Speaking of its meaning, Ghose said she used the “moon trope” throughout the book. The women in the book are named after the moon and the chapters are the phases of the moon. Men, on the other hand, bear the name of the sun.
The idea was how we think of the moon reflecting sunlight. But can the moon find its own light if the sun slips away? When Rabi dies, how do his wife and daughter navigate life? The author explores this and other aspects of women’s lives in the novel.
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