Mid last February, a local ad agency contacted me about a writing gig. Yeah to that. The agency was launching a campaign for one of its clients and needed a creative writer on board. Was I interested? I said I was. They said sawa, wait for a call later this week.
Wednesday, I receive a call from Yvette. (It’s not her real name.) Yvette tells me she’s heard some good stuff about me (I lie) and would like me to partner with them in the campaign. Commissioned work. I told her I’m listening.
She said the campaign would run for one year. I would be on board as the content writer. The campaign was dubbed ‘My Mother and I’. My jobo would be to send in two blog posts every week, 500 words long each, on stories about me and my Moms. Copy deadline was Wednesday 4PM. I would be on a salo. Yvette asked if I had any questions. I said I did.
“So you’d like to me write you any story, anything, about my Mum?”
“Yes,” she said.
“OK. Uhm… OK.” I paused to turn the proposal over in my head. “So do you want them written in the first person, the second person or the third?”
“Whichever you like.”
“Do I just have to write about me and my Mum, or I can also write on anything that touches on my Mum?”
“Write about anything you like.”
“OK. So do you want me to send you copy twice a week or can I send you both on Wednesday?”
“However you like.”
Creative license. I liked that.
“So what if the relationship with my Mum wasn’t all that loving? What if she was frosty? What if she didn’t hug me enough? What if she locked in a cupboard and called me names?”
“I’m kidding,” I said, cackling. “I have a great relationship with my Mum.”
Now, because I have been freelancing for two years and because I am no longer a rookie as far as these gigs go, I told her I can’t start jobo until we sign a contract. Yvette was graceful. She said she would send it early next week.
This was Wednesday. She sent me the contract the next Monday late afternoon, and said she would like to have the first two articles in by that Wednesday. I thought to myself, kuwa serious? I need at least a week to develop ideas before I can draft the copy then rewrite it for sending.
But that right there set the tone and tempo for the campaign – there was no time to let ideas marinate, or to massage copy to fruition. This was my Mum for Pete’s sake. I had known her all my life, she longer. All the ideas I needed about her I had already. And ready. The real question was, did I have the technical ability to write these stories as I had them in my head? Would my words match up to the person my Mum is?
The next day, Tuesday morning, I was at my desk staring at a blank Word document. I thought hard about my Mum. I even called her to hear her voice. I didn’t know it at the time but the first word that went to the page kicked off what was to be my most exciting writing gig this year. I swear.
I wrote a story about whatever came to mind that Tuesday morning. And when I was done with the first 500 words, I opened a new document and started on the next 500 words. I surprised myself. I let the copy sit then cleaned it up the following day at 3.30PM. By 4PM, they had left my desk. I had a drink and called it a day. Si you know that feeling of accomplishment when you’ve put in a decent day’s work?
I sent in copy every Wednesday (several times late. Expectedly) for four months before the contract was pulled from under my feet. No warning, no signs. Something about redefining the scope of work. This was June.
I became idle. Destructive. Moppy. I remember spending a Thursday afternoon at home lighting matches and watching them burn to their tips. Then I stood on the balcony until the street lights come on. Morbid, huh? I hadn’t realized just how much my week hinged on my Tuesday mornings. On sending the copy to these guys. I was in my best form on then; I woke early, I wore my favourite underwear and took some extra minutes to make sure I had filled in my eyebrows just right. Even my ballooning pregnancy and muffled pregnancy brain couldn’t stop this train.
July, Yvette emails and says the campaign resumes. Deadlines remain the same, jobo is as it were, campaign objectives are unchanged. I clicked my heels then got back to work, unusually thrilled. I returned to form.
You can only guess what cut another month later: An email checks in saying that the client has folded the campaign, again, and that everyone has been told to pack up their things in a carton box and go home. Again. Yvette thanked me for my service and said we’ll patana along the road someday in the future.
This time, I took the punch like a big girl, with a little more gusto and gumption.
It took me some courtesy and plenty of patience, but I got the copyrights to my work back. Starting tomorrow, I will post a couple of these pieces here. I will edit some elements of some pieces to align them to the narrative arc of the blog. You will hear about my Mum ad nauseam, sorry about that, so I’ll try my best to space them out with other regular (monthly?) posts. I am lazy. I know. But considering I’ll soon be a Mum myself, Inshallah, it’s the most we can do for each other.
So how about it?