Dangerous Women

By Jo Shaw, Ben Fletcher-Watson and Abrisham Ahmadzadeh

Fifty reflections on women, power and identity

Thursday, 31 October 2019

Author Spotlight: Sujana Upadhyay

This week we hear from Sujana Upadhyay, whose Dangerous Women piece is called “A deep shade of red”. A bilingual poet, playwright and researcher, Sujana’s work mainly explores human relationships, traditional practices and our interconnectedness with nature, often drawing inspiration from her childhood in Nepal, interest in folklore and work in gender relations.

- What is your writing process/ routine?

Writing is a form of self-care for me. It keeps me sane. It is something I somehow try and find time and energy for between raising two young children and working as a project manager. Most days I try and set aside at least an hour a day to write, but that hour is often divided between chucks of 10 mins here, 20 minutes there! It can therefore be a rather frustrating and fragmented process at times. I often have one or two projects on the go, and when I do get a few moments to myself, I try and simply get words on paper. I prefer to write directly on my laptop, but often end up jotting down things on whatever I have available - phone, notebook, scraps of paper. When I have longer chunks of time to myself, over the weekend say, I then focus on pulling things together, which is followed by editing, rewriting etc.

In terms of process, most of my ideas come to me ‘fully formed’ in their initial state. I then let them sit and incubate in the back of my mind for a while before starting to unpack them through my writing. The end result seldom resembles the initial idea, but still it’s lovely to have inspiration ‘come to me’ rather than me having to go searching for them. Lots of reading, staying informed on current events and having an active imagination perhaps helps.

- What did the Dangerous Women Project mean to you?

I was first drawn in by the title of the project itself. I have at various points in my life been referred to as a dangerous woman myself, and almost in every instance, it has been a man and the connotation uncomplimentary. And yet, moments like that confirmed for me that I was on the right track! So you can imagine how eagerly I started reading through the posted entries. I was delighted to read so many stories and experiences of other women from across the world who have gone beyond the conventional expectations placed on them. It was wonderful to hear these women being recognised and celebrated. I identified with so many of the stories, and anything that induces the feeling that we are not alone is always welcome!

- Who is your favourite woman from history (apart from any woman you've written about), and why?

There are many. And almost all of them, when I think of them now, have been writers. My favourite, if I had to pick one, would be Doris Lessing. Even today, every time I need a bit of sanity, wisdom or comfort, I turn to her books, and thankfully she was a prolific writer, her work spanning multiple genres. Along with her beautiful writing that speaks to me, the way she led her life, always staying true to herself and actively pursuing her passions despite many challenges, has been hugely inspiring to me.

Who is your dangerous woman from history? Let us know at @DangerousWomen_

For now, keep talking! Keep sharing! Keep giving time to deserving women from all around the world.


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