Hello ji from Womaning 2.0!
A masterplan held together with duct-tape and hope.
After a longer-than-intended break and khaoing many jootas from regular readers, I am back with Womaning 2.0 aka Womaning Season 2 aka Womaning Dwiteeya.
I have had quite a few suggestions on what to call this new chapter. One of my readers - who regularly sent me (increasingly un-)gentle reminders to restart writing - wants me to call it Season 2. A very sneaky artist recommended Womaning 2.0. And then there are all the other fun sequel titles to try on for size.
(Womaning Reloaded? Womaning Dobara?)
No matter what we call it, this new phase comes with a few changes. I am writing today to tell you what these changes are going to be.
As always, I have the faintest outline of a plan and it is all held together by duct tape and hope. Which also means that you - my reader - are welcome to send me your thoughts on this and help shape the future of Womaning.
But first, a minute to welcome those of you receiving this email for the very first time.
Willkómmen, new readers!
I am grateful for everyone who regularly reads Womaning, no doubt.
But I am especially grateful for the last 200(!) of you who subscribed to this newsletter while I was on break. Specifically, I am thankful that my readers keep finding Womaning relevant to their life experiences - enough to keep sharing these pieces despite zero push or promotion from my lazy quarters. I am a lucky writer, indeed, to have your unconditional support for my work.
New readers, you have probably been puzzled by this new newsletter you subscribed to, which never sent you any mails. Or maybe you have been thankful for at least one subscription that does not demand any real reading from you.
Either way, the silence ends now.
You likely subscribed because you came across an issue (or more) that resonated with your experience of how the subtle biases we carry around gender have a very real impact on all our lives - whether women or men.
I apologize that you entered the world of Womaning during a rather quiet time. But, holy moly have I got some fun stuff lined up for you now!
Or, at least, easier than ever
One feedback I often heard during Season 1 - even from Womaning’s biggest champions - was that the pieces were sometimes too long to read. Many even mentioned feeling guilty when they could not read as regularly as they’d have liked to, because of the sheer length of the pieces.
I started writing Womaning with about 2000-worders, but remember closing the season with newsletters that averaged over 4500 words. And that is not an easy meal to digest!
Trust me, the epics I wrote were not easy to write either! For each piece, I would have to interview a number of women and men. Then I would transcribe and review each interview. I would put them together and weave the piece around them - with all the Bollywood references and GIFs that we all came to love so much. I would filter out some of the stories that did not fit the point of the piece precisely - which did not earn me any popularity points either. And then, I would write the long epics with research pieces thrown in because I felt compelled to do justice to the important issues they tackled.
Basically, I tried to make every piece bullet-proof.
For what it’s worth, I stand by that choice.
That said, I also see how consuming this volume and depth of work can start to feel like a chore - while I toil to churn them out week-after-week, month-after-month.
So, this is me checking out of the weekly epic-writing Hotel California of my own device.
The new Womaning formats
In the new phase of Womaning, I will continue to publish every week. But it will not be the old long-form pieces every week anymore. Here are some of the new formats I am going to experiment with:
1. Womaning Shorts
All through this break, the world kept revolving on its old gendered axis and I had Womaning experiences every day. I felt sad that I was not able to share them with Womaning readers - because they did not fit the format we have followed so far.
Well, no more.
I am going to put such short stories - mine and yours - down in a digest every once in a while and publish it as the newsletter of the week.
Life does not happen in thematic weekly cycles. So why should Womaning?
A sample for Madame and Monsieur:
I don’t think any seasoned reader of this newsletter has any doubt that I watch far too many movies. I also happen to read an above-average proportion of books by women.
By force of habit, I consume all this pop culture through the Womaning lens.
Such reviews - which I have been writing on my blog so far - will shift here from now on:
Every once in a while, I will get together with some friends (and readers/subscribers!) to have a chat about some Womaning subjects - for your consumption as a podcast.
I have shared such videos in the past, but most of you wrote to me that watching a 50min Zoom call was probably too much of an ask - especially after a workday of endless Zoom calls.
Harsh, but fair. 😏
Factoring in this feedback, I am going to move such chats to the audio platform now. Here’s hoping that listening to 50 (or even 20)mins of friendly banter will make for a good background listen to your next commute or walk.
A take on the gendered angle of trending news stories.
Totally hypothetical example: a former Ms Universe who is a 40-something adult woman has every right to love whoever she wants to.
(We might think she could do better, but we are not her mother.)
Why, then, is this billionaire working mother labeled a “gold digger” by the court of popular opinion for the grievous sin of choosing her own partner?
More importantly, would that be the case if the genders were reversed?
5. Club W
After I publish a piece, readers often reach out to me on WhatsApp or DMs, sharing stories about the topic of the week. Sometimes, these stories are even more powerful than the stories I did feature in the piece. I always found it such a pity to not be able to share these with Womaning readers - even when the originator of the story had no objection to sharing it.
So from time to time, the issue of the week will be some such messages and stories (with names redacted, of course) which share with you a glimpse of the heart-warming, and eye-opening messages I get from some of you. Such issues would end with a Discussion Thread where we could have a conversation together in the comments section and hopefully grow together as a community.
I have collaborated with fellow writers in the past on pieces that lie at the cross-section of their work and Womaning. I am going to try to do more of this.
Actually, I have already started doing more of this. Check out this interview I recently did with Valorie Clark, a brilliant writer, about facing rejection as an artist, and a woman:
The old format still stays
My hope with these new changes is that they will not only make it more sustainable for me to write as regularly as I wrote through Season 1, but they will also make it easier for you to keep reading.
Of course, our old friend - the long-form newsletter - will not only stick around but remain the soul of Womaning. I have some great new themes lined up to explore in the coming editions.
As always, I look forward to earning the privilege of a place in your heart and your inbox.
A word of thanks
I owe a debt of gratitude to my friend and creative peer-slash-mentor, Nishant Jain, for helping me chisel Womaning 2.0.
Nishant writes the incredible newsletter, The Sneaky Art Post.
Nishant is a brilliant artist - one whose art is as deliberate and thoughtful as mine is accidental and chaotic. I reached out to him to help me flesh out this new chapter of Womaning - and in true Indian-Engineering-student fashion, both of us got around to having this conversation around midnight yesterday. Nothing like the whooshing sound of a deadline flying by, as they say.
Nishant’s endless generosity with his ideas is only the icing on the spectacular cake that is his talent. Follow Sneaky Artist and let some of his light shine on you.
And watch this space for a W-Collab with the Sneaky Artist! 🎨