Twinkle Khanna on what inspires her to write, dealing with writer’s block, and more

The actor says she has finally started thinking of herself as a professional writer.

Harper's Bazaar India

"There is always a lot of pressure to be Mrs Funny Bones. But I am nearly 50 and I am not going to accept any constraints put by the world. I refuse to be put in a box, I have a few more years to be put in a box anyway, and buried underground. So maybe at this point, I don’t need to do that,” says Twinkle Khanna, revealing her funny bone, as we start a conversation about her latest book of short stories called Welcome to Paradise.

Twinkle says that while her themes have not changed dramatically since she has always looked at women’s lives, “this sort of displacement that women have from the world and from the way the world is constructed” (The Legend of Lakshmi Prasad had a similar theme), what has changed is that there is no forced humour. “They do have some dark humour. They have a tongue-in-cheek twist to them. But there is nothing that does not serve the story,” she says. Explaining how she has pared the prose she adds, “Metaphors and similes come easily to me. So, I generally like to put them all in. But here, I have a whole deleted folder of such metaphors that I have chucked aside.”

One of the directives of creative writing is to ‘show and not tell’. Twinkle believes in it wholeheartedly. “I am not interested in telling the reader anything. I’m interested in showing them things and then it’s for them to make those inferences,” she says. Even though she deals with themes like euthanasia, loneliness, infidelity, inter-generational relationships, she doesn’t come across as preachy. “When I sit down to write I don’t think of a theme because then my stories will become preachy,” she emphasises.

Twinkle says she wishes writing was a “racetrack but it is not, it is a labyrinth and you go round and round”. One of the stories, 'Jelly Sweets', she says, she started writing around eight years ago. “Where do I say a story begins? It sits in my head and it brews and brews. And then sometimes there are images that I can’t let go off and it is these images that turn into a story,” she says. For 'Jelly Sweets', she says, she remembers these images from her childhood of green and red jelly being set on trays. “I must have been nine. For 40 years that image has stayed with me and has now turned into a story.

Twinkle has been writing for over 10 years now and says she has finally started thinking of herself as a professional writer, “Which means I don’t have the luxury of thinking and waiting for a muse to turn up.” She says she loves deadlines as they ensure there is no scope for being lazy. “A deadline is like bringing a wrecking ball to a writer’s block. I can’t just say I will have soy chips and watch Netflix, which is what I love to do,” she smiles.


Referring to another story in the book, 'Welcome To Paradise' (also the name of the book), Twinkle says that she feels the relationship between grandparents and grandchildren is much smoother than the one you have with your parents, “because the generational gap is so wide that, you can put your hands wide open without smacking the other one in the face”. Twinkle says the only time she faced writer’s block was during the pandemic when she wasn’t going out and meeting people. It was also the time when she finally accepted herself as a writer as she realised that the only way she processed things was when she wrote them down.

In her mid-40’s Twinkle decided to go back to university and study. How different was it? “We really underestimate the amount of agility that experience brings. While my fellow students were younger and therefore had much more stamina and could party the whole night and write the whole day, I had all this life experience. The fact that I have done so many different things, met so many different people, etc., adds a flavour to the writing. So, while in some professions such as sports, age is a disadvantage, in a writer’s world, age actually adds a lot more to your entire repository,” she signs off. 

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