Late 2006, the inner nag in me was at her loudest….saying things like, “u gonna be like this all ur life?” “show some guts woman, move from the comfort zone”…..you know, shit like that.
2007 brought the drive, and a friend cum benefactor provided the means. So I went back to school. Copywriting school, to be exact. I thought I would learn something without trying too hard….(I mentally slap myself still, at this presumption).
First, shedding of all pre-conceived notions, prejudices, ego, self preservation. The last was the hardest. After all, self-protectiveness is an instinct that keeps us alive. But I surrendered that too. Not that I had a choice.
We learnt. We experienced. We shared. We cried. We laughed…at each other and ourselves. We put our pride on the line. We were often cut down to bits. There was a point when I thought Copywriters in Progress was a misnomer. Often it seemed like Mass Slaughter in Progress….with pride, spirit, face strewn all over the classroom, usually on the floor or splat! on the wall. You don’t believe me? Go to the innocuous-looking 95% Trainings armed with Luminol. The flourescent effect you see would be our collective blood.
There was a lot of pain. Lots of hard work facilitating creation. Sometimes the thought of going to class will be accompanied by a sudden plunge in the happiness index. There were times I even welcomed certain engagements that meant missing class. (They were unavoidable alright, but the fact is that I welcomed them with secret glee, I must confess).
There were however, a great many days when class meant enlightenment, an enthralling exercise in discovery and a fun-filled evening. The guys; Faisal, Farid Aaron and Ijam, provided most of the laughter fodder.
The late bloomer in me took forever to arrive at generating ideas. Regular humiliation of bland (read boring!) ideas drove me to almost quit. I wasn’t equipped to handle the repeated rejection, the lukewarm response to the ad ideas, the thrashing I get whenever I take to the floor. Add to that, stage fright.
Anyway, I persevered for two reasons. Firstly, I owe it to my friend and benefactor. Secondly, I needed the satisfaction of showing a spirit-killer person in my life that I’m capable of finishing what I started.
The last two months has brought out the best and the unexpected in all of us. I had an epiphanic moment when I reclaimed control of my spirit. From then on, there was no looking back. Writing good stuff wasn’t any easier, but it was possible because the clouds lifted from my personal horizon. And the satisfaction of evoking a reaction in my tough classmates was…well, priceless.
I choose this moment to salute my fellows. Ellie, Hex, Victoria, Aaron, Ijam, Farid and Faisal…it has been a wonderful ride and I thank you all for the tremendous support and invaluable feedback.
To Shahnaz…thanks for the brutal honesty. To Peter, thanks for the thought-inducing provocation. To Raz, thanks for the core idea. To Janet, thanks for the love, understanding, inspiration and the wings you gave us to fly.
Tomorrow, our work will be judged in class for the final time. Whatever the outcome, I am a winner already in my mind. So are all of you, my fellow inaugural batch of battle-scarred copy hacks! Let’s take to the skies.