Every time,such a contest comes along,there is one thing which is constant :Chaos.
Therefore it is imperative one finds an opportunity in the middle of chaos.It is imperative to keep calm - as that is, the second most tested fact.Finally, the third most tested fact is consistency.
Our group was a diverse mix of energy,ideas,writing styles and stretched time lines...just like anyone else.So what was it that we did differently? For starters , our central thought,essence was to make our story believable.Real.
After all, unlike reality,writing fiction has to make sense.
Little did we know- how this would go on to become the most challenging bit in this whole exercise.
The challenges began even before the first word was written.Who would lead? After a few "you first" I'll support you" rounds the gauntlet settled on one of the team mates.The challenge was to get the rest to follow.
Few realise at the beginning,how is it going to be in the end.So it was important for the chosen lead to draw up a rules of engagement,framework and distribute responsibilities.
That was the easy part. The tough one was to make sure every one responded.
The title "Missing" was quite apt, as it turned out! Each character found himself or herself while searching for someone else. They found out what was missing in their lives.
Then comes the research. We had to logically connect the characters and the story in a particular location.It had to be real ,simple and believable. The research on every new element we introduced in the story...even if it meant a simple description of a characters haircut.It needed to be authentic.
The research on the law,med school, medical cases,and some of the other aspects was well lined up.Each member came up with their research and findings and put it across for the group to debate.We agreed,disagreed and sometimes, agreed to disagree.But we never stopped to keep moving.
As the cliche goes, man proposes, Blogger disposes.
Once the contest was underway, the team realized, everyone had a different writing style.It began to dawn upon the team that a well written storyline / framework is not enough. It needed a lot of self discipline. The same points could be interpretted in multiple ways, the story should be this way or that way..but certainly not in the way it was being written.
This is the most difficult aspect for a SPOC. Does he debate, indulge, argue or just let go ?There was very little time to convince,coax and let alone debate.The lead had to change gears.He had to be tough. "Get on with it" being the mantra.Just as the cycle began to roll, some of the spokes came off. A couple of mates had to leave. There were travels and plans which needed attention, and some just couldn't continue.
It was the time for innovation and agility.Instead of getting someone new, the idea was to increase length per post and progress the story a bit further than originally planned.The story was now beginning to take shape when Blog Adda, decided to add a little twist to the tale.
Personal commitments,office work, quarter end pressure, college, modelling assignments and teaching commitments just added more spice to the mix.This was the most difficult phase.Maintain pace and connectivity and quality was tough.
As if all this was not spicy enough,Durga Puja/Dusshera holidays had to pitch in right in the middle.
Just like a coracle floating on the edge of a waterfall, we came close to a submission.Only a little tiny rock was visible in front of us : editing. As we looked closer,It was not a tiny rock, it was a boulder!
As the clock ticked close to midnight,the team realised there were typos and inconsistent narratives and part overlaps.It needed merciless,ruthless editing. Ego's were hurt,perceptions were triggered,and hell broke loose. Nights were stretched into mornings,spell checks, and presentation of manuscript was critical.
We decided to add a bit of poetry to increase the effect...yet to write a simple few lines took so much thought and preparation.
After the coracle landed, we waited patiently post submission.Tempers calmed down, communications were easier.Some smiles across whatsapp.
The results were announced. We were leading. We did this in round 1, round 2 and as a group we are confident of making the cut in round 3 !
The realistic way to look at this is, a group of people,who left their ego's behind,their debating skills controlled,just their passion to write took the team across the finishing line.
As much as writing is about need for approval,we believe we did a fantastic job under the circumstances, I am just going to say,we are in to win it , unapologetically ,yet in humility.
All for ten....ten for all !
Team : Tete-A-Ten.
PS : below is a small example of how we stuck to discipline with our rules of engagement...our first email to the group.
- Coordination : ten random people communicating with each other in an ad-hoc fashion results in total chaos.
- Egos : we all have em. It surfaces mostly when your so brilliant write up, is ruthlessly edited by fellow mates.Personal attacks a.k.a bitching.
- Timelines : there will be travels,meetings,classes,
relatives,parties,emergencies and everything else to not let you write.
- Interest : it starts with a bang and ends with a whimper.
- Consensus : at almost all times, there will not be a consensus.
- Plan B : there is never a back up plan.
- Birds Eye : There is almost no one who sees the story connectivity from a birds eye view.
- Follow up : Mostly, one person, usually the captain or the fellow "enthu cutlet" is chasing people.
- Trolls : Side talks,take it easy talks,its just a game talks, often derail momentum.
- Winning : if the team wins, then those who dropped out earlier find time to bask in glory.
- Coordination : The Team captain's decision should be final. No questions asked.You live and die by your captains words. All successful teams in any sporting activity revolves around the captain.The more democratically you run- the more confusion it creates and consumes time.Therefore a captain has to be chosen carefully and if appointed then every single member has to be in agreement.
- Egos : no personal attacks will be tolerated. None of us are descendants of Vikram Seth or related to Chetan Bhagat. We will back the team mate who is not writing upto standard.We win as a team and we lose as a team.If you care so much, then help the mate write better instead of criticizing him or her.Find time.
- Timelines : Posting your entry up first on the BA site will ensure more eyeballs of the judges.Nail it in the first time - no one remembers who was the second dog to the moon.Even the president of United states finds time to play golf.So you too can find time to write ahead of the deadline.Its known as the cult of the done manifesto.Do it now.
- Interest: Honestly, no one forced you to do this.You have an option to opt out - but you didn't. So don't let your team down mid way.Show some character.Be there till the end.
- Consensus : related to point #2. Its ok to go ahead with a write up - rather than delaying or missing the deadline.Remember, just like, others too will make mistakes.The most disorganised team never wins, no matter how talented they are.Its the finishing line that matters.
- PlanB: Shit happens. So each owner to have a back up plan. If you cant deliver, get your husband,wife, boyfriend,girlfriend,sister,
brother...whoever to write for you.Don't expect your team mates to jump in because you had an important meeting.Trust me- we all will have moments of madness - but we ve got to hang in there and cross the finish line....together.
- Birds eye : People often go in a tangent while writing a story. Remember, keep it simple.Have a outline,framework and fill in the blanks and your story will shape up just fine. Sometimes when a third person singular reads your story he/she might have a different take.Accept feedback and move on.or make changes as required.
- Follow up : Really no one should follow up. You wanted to do this.That's is why you are here.Where is the need to follow up? you have sophisticated devices and technology to have ample reminders to finish a task on time.So do it.Team should have a 0 reminder policy.
- Trolls : In a group chat, refrain from non relevant conversations - the chain of thought, importance is lost.
- Wining: If we manage to win - then you will know that all of above were adhered to the T. If we lose, let us not blame or criticize a member - fair enough we tried.Move on.