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Sunday, January 02, 2022

Interview with Jenna Wimshurst, Runner Up in the Q4 2021 Creative Nonfiction Essay Contest


Jenna is a UK-based writer and performer, who uses comedy to talk about lesbian culture, travel, and her rather inconvenient mental health issues. She is currently writing a book of humorous essays and can be seen on YouTube performing sketches and generally being very silly. When she’s not writing or generally being very silly, she’s either watching tennis, reading a book or trying to teach her guinea pigs not to poo in their food bowl. Read and watch all of her shenanigans on Facebook or on her website: 

Read Jenna's essay"I Am a Doughnut Bumper" here, and then return for an interview with the author.

----------Interview by Renee Roberson

WOW: Hi Jenna, and welcome! Congratulations on placing in the contest with this poignantly honest essay. We're curious to know when you first realized you had a gift for writing? 

Jenna: I've always been a bit rubbish at speaking words, but luckily when I was in my late teens I realised that I was quite good at writing them. I started writing properly when I was at university doing a film degree, where my essays were better than my films! So, after I graduated I ditched the filming and continued to write before getting into stand up comedy and then starting to write books and blogs. 

WOW: What advice would you offer aspiring humor writers who aren’t sure if their material is funny enough? 

Jenna: Write what YOU think is funny, not what you think other people will find funny. Also, read a lot, whether it's good or bad, sometimes you learn from the bad stuff more than the good stuff! I like to keep a notebook with me, so I can write down little funny ideas and things I think of or notice as this is a great way to generate ideas and keep the comedy muscle working. Also, ask people to read your writing, it's even better if you can watch them while they read, so you can see where they laughed, smiled and fell asleep. 

WOW: Writing satire is definitely an art form. What was your initial writing and editing process for both of your books, “The Suicides’ and “How to Be a Lesbian?” 

Jenna: With my book "The Suicides," I started with an initial idea of someone who helps others commit suicide (not a normal topic for comedy!) and then I grew the story and characters out from there. With "How To Be a Lesbian," that was a lot more fun and light, it's a satirical book about how to be a stereotypical lesbian, so the writing process started with me brainstorming every lesbian stereotype I could possibly think of, finding some connections and then mocking those stereotypes. 

WOW: Your bio mentions your “rather inconvenient mental health issues.” I know a lot of us can relate to those. How has writing served as therapy when working through some of those issues? 

Jenna: Writing definitely helps with my depression and anxiety issues. When I'm having a particularly crap time with my mental health everything seems bad, but when I write down how I'm feeling I feel a little bit stronger because the thoughts are no longer just abstract monsters running around in my head-- they're now actual sentences that I can view from a different perspective. 

WOW: I laughed out loud several times during your YouTube video “Breaking Up with Kate Winslet.” Where do you get your ideas for your comedy sketches in those videos? 

Jenna: Sometimes the ideas just come when I'm out walking, or daydreaming, but a lot of the time they are just based in truth. I DO love Kate Winslet and I was inspired to do an interview sketch with her after watching some of Randy Rainbow's videos (which are amazing). Watching other people's sketches and videos inspires me a lot.

WOW: Yes, Randy Rainbow's stuff is out of this world! Thanks again for joining us today, Jenna, and Write On!

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