She may have turned a full-time author after a series of stints with some of the top MNCs like Tata Motors, Infosys, Idea, Dell, but calling her just an author won’t be fair. Rachna Singh is a writer of several books, mostly belonging to Humour genre, and her destiny. A fighter who defeated Breast Cancer to make sure her latest piece sees life.
“Band Baaja Boys is special”, she tells me. And why not. Can you imagine someone working on a project to see light while that person has darkness within, waiting for a ray of hope to survive.
In a conversation with GW, Singh shares those heartbreaking moments when she felt it’s all over, how aspiring authors should be ready for some “cruel feedback” and why she thinks humour can’t exist without sadness…
How and when did you turn an author?
I never, consciously, thought of being a writer. I started a blog on wordpress, just to record funny experiences in day to day life. My blog readers egged me on to put those in a book, and that is how my first book, ‘Dating, Diapers and Denial’ was born. I inherit my wicked humor from my father, Ajit Thakurdas, and my love for writing from my mother, Kamalini Thakurdas, who writes in poetry and prose in Hindi.
But wasn’t corporate life better?
It won’t be fair to compare. That had its charm, this has its own. Luckily, I chose a profession that I was passionate about and just loved what I did. I learnt a lot, travelled places, made some wonderful friends during my corporate years. Currently, I am completely loving my life as a writer.
Who inspires you the most?
Dave Barry is my favourite. I wrote to him after the launch of my first novel, Dating, Diapers and Denial, and told him that I am his ‘Eklavya’.
You said you wrote ‘Band Baaja Boys’ during your chemotherapy sessions for breast cancer. It’s phenomenal to say the least. What kept you going? Weren’t you afraid of not making it through? What was the thought that you stuck by?
When I was diagnosed with cancer, I mailed that manuscript (around two chapters long then) to my mentor with a tearful note – ‘please complete this if I don’t make it’. Yes, I recall how scary it was.
My oncologist was my rock – she kept assuring me that we had caught the cancer early and I would make it. In time, I returned to the manuscript and then, never looked back.
Which one of your self-authored books is most special and why?
Definitely, Band, Baaja, Boys! both for what I could accomplish and the trying times during which I could make it happen. But, I love Dating, Diapers and Denial also since it’s anecdotal and I have captured some of the best moments of my babies’ childhoods. And, of course, That Autumn in Awadh, which is my own love story.
I was present at your excerpt-reading event in Delhi. You mimic so well. Ever thought of turning up a stand-up comedian?
My legs hurt if I stand for too long. 🙂
Would you agree to the fact that humour came about from sadness in your life?
I tend to believe that there is pain behind laughter. Especially, when laughter is being generated for others. Ellen DeGeneres, Rodney Dangerfield, Sarah Silverman, Owen Wilson, David Letterman, Larry David, Jim Carrey, Conan O’Brien, Robin Williams and Woody Allen : all these funny people had deep sadness within.
I am a deeply sensitive person and yes, do harbour anxieties, fears like other people do.
Who’s your most straight-in-the-face critic?
Shinie Antony, my mentor.
We all hear of young men and women committing suicides, giving up early in life. You have fought back cancer. What would be your suggestion to them?
It would be presumptuous for me to dole out advice to anyone without having walked in their shoes. It pains me when others do it to me, so I’d never do it to others. All I’d say is, recognize symptoms of depression, seek help. Don’t try to sort it all out by yourself. Reach out to a friend who is grappling with problems – be there for him/her, without judging him/her or writing out your own prescription for cure.
And for those who want to turn authors?
Appoint your two angels: You should crave for feedback like people craving for cash in ATM queues these days! I have noticed that budding writers often, come with fragile egos. Do you have those one or two people who can tear your writing to shreds? Can you take hard-hitting, cruel feedback? I have always sought, and relished the dreadful feedback. Believe me, it’s the best way to grow to your full potential.