Wednesday, December 19, 2007

"I wouldn't even piss on this"

It was one of Mohammed's favourite things to say when creatives showed him work that was below par. That, and 'BOLLOCKS'.

I remember the day I joined Enterprise Nexus. I was 21, had spent a year in advertising and had never heard of the man. My CD at the time couldn't believe it. 'You haven't heard of Mohammed Khan? Have you had your head in the sand all these years?' he asked incredulously.

But in a way, not knowing anything about him made my life easier. I wasn't scared of Mohammed, I never got nervous about showing work to him and I didn't tremble in my seat whenever he walked by. I hadn't heard the stories about how he reduced senior, award winning art directors to tears or how he once tore a layout and scattered the shreds of paper from the second floor landing to the level below. I still don't know what truth there is to these stories, perhaps no one other than Mohammed does.

I learned a lot about MK in the two years I spent at Enterprise. That to receive praise from him was like nothing else. (He once blew kisses at me over a layout and called me a genius. Bliss) That to have him sigh in disappointment over your work was much worse than to have him yell at you. That he could be avuncular, flirtatious, witty and scornful all in the span of half and hour. That you could spend all week painstakingly writing headlines for a campaign but he could whip his pen out and write 4 headlines in 5 minutes that you could spend a lifetime trying to craft and not come close to. That writers must use proper pens and write on beautiful paper. That poor grammar and typos showed that one didn't care about their work and there was nothing worse than that.

They weren't all good moments. I have to admit there were times when I hated him. When it was 3am on a Saturday and I was at work writing lines while I imagined him tucked in bed sleeping soundly. When he made me rewrite an entire campaign only to decide afterwards that he liked the original one better. When he made me write down a recipe that his cook dictated over the phone for one of his friends . I really did hate him that time.

While I still do the occasional bit of freelance I have moved on from advertising. But Mohammed's rules of writing still stay with me today. I write all my first drafts long hand with a proper pen on nice paper. One can and must edit, edit, edit and edit some more. One can always do better and must strive to. And most of all, that one must enjoy writing.

Enjoy retirement Mohammed.

(Errors noted, and corrected.)

6 comments:

??! said...

That poor grammer and typos were showed that one didn't care about their work and there was nothing worse than that
See, now that's an open invitation to the God of Irony, and it never passes up....grammar. Heheh.

The ramblings of a shoe fiend said...

Now that I thought I'd corrected the first time round. Obviously not. :)

Mohammed said...

Why would you put up with Mohammed if he made you rewrite and decide he liked the original one better?
Servility?
Maybe Mohammed would'nt have put up with anyone doing that? which is what made him Mohammed?

Anonymous said...

1.(He once blew kisses at me over a layout and called me a genius. Bliss) (period missing)
2. That he could be avuncular, flirtatious, witty and scornful all in the span of half and hour.
3. That you could spend all week painstakingly writing headlines for a campaign, (insert comma) but he could whip …
4. 3am (3 a.m. – AP style)
5. dictated over the phone for one of his friends . (remove extra space before period)
6. write all my first drafts long hand (longhand – one word)

Sorry, shoefie, it’s part of my job. Don’t hate me as much as you hate MK.

--Terri

Anonymous said...

No. 2 should be "half an hour"

--Terri

lekhni said...

mohammed: I guess at 21 one seeks someone one can look up to. Someone who is greater than ordinary mortals.

A few years later, cynicism sets in. If shoefi had first met mohammed when she was say, 25, she would have thought he had no excuse for his atrocious behavior.

Shoefi: your post reminded me of my own first boss. At age 21 (or 22) I once gave him a piece of my mind because he'd asked me to do something unreasonable. The whole floor went quiet. Years later, he told a colleague that I was the best person that he ever worked with! To this day, he remains in touch..(and sometimes humorously reminds me of other unforgivable things I have said to him)