Interview with Gouri Dange – Author, Editor, Columnist, Counselor
Gouri Dange’s stand-up act about the perils of being published is a witty, tongue-in-cheek view of the writer’s world. She talks to Gyaan Adab about the absurdities she has encountered.
What prompted this stand-up act?
I haven’t written about my experience and the absurdities I’ve encountered as part of the publishing process. I realized it happens to every other writer but not many writers talk about it. Instead about bitching about it, I decided to make fun of my own vulnerabilities. The idea “is to turn neurotic misery into common grief” (to paraphrase Freud).
Agents, publishers, editors, illustrators, fellow-writers, marketing and accounting execs, the press, reviewers, bookstores, celeb-guests and readers. Is there any one in the publishing world you haven’t spoken about?
The only people I haven’t burned are book editors. It’s the most literate and decent job in the publishing world. I’ve never had a problem with them as a writer. Even as an editor, I’ve always had a good relationship with all the writers.
Should writers beware?
It’s not about being cynical of being a writer. It’s about laughing at the absurdities of publishing which is a different game altogether.
It’s a publishers market. Writers set so much importance on their books being published that publishers don’t want to put their weight behind every book. It’s about ‘damned if I do, damned if I don’t’.
Being a well-known writer, have you ever considered self-censorship in your performance?
No, it really doesn’t matter. Someone asked me, “Aren’t you afraid you’ll get blacklisted?” I said,” I don’t think the publishers are bothered.” They’re that self absorbed.
Before my book was published at Harper Collins, they knew about my act. After the initial honeymoon period, they were exactly the same as the others. I just look at it as more stuff I can add to my stand up.
Does the publishing process get easier after a while?
You encounter the same people in every publishing house. I call them the ‘Three Idiots of Marketing’. It doesn’t get easier but I’ve accepted the absurdities and it’s become therapeutic performing about my experiences. So now every time I perform my stand up act I have to get myself annoyed. I’m funnier when I’m irritated.
Are you a big fan of stand-up comedy?
Stand-up comedy when it’s self-targeted can be dark but really humorous. I enjoy watching Louie, Seinfeld, ‘Who’s Line is it anyway?’ and the new crop of young comedians in India.