Let me take a moment here to pat our backs, raise a drink, and generally discuss how awesome we are.
Project Small fry is now a full four months old. *A million hi-fives all around.* And yes it’s a huge deal. As writers, Sheena and I are two terrible things, lazy and arrogant. I can tell you from experience, that you cannot start out like that.
The wonderful thing is, the PSF you see and read now is actually a continuation of a tiny idea we had a year ago. One day, we were stuffing our faces with cinnabon at Pali Naka and we had one of those “where are we going conversations” that were becoming all too common. We were feeling extremely hemmed in at our jobs and life had lost its sparkle and charm. We are in our 20’s dammit! We should be doing kickass things like writing plays and going to Assam! People at coffee shops should be talking about us! The president should be inviting us to tea!
As writers we had forgotten about writing for us. At work, it was work. We started saying meh at each byline, we pitched story ideas that got shot down. We read constantly and felt envious perpetually. We were restless and bored with company. Partying and alcohol had lost its flavor. We needed a 180 degree whirl of epic amazingness.
After whining and crying and hoping that blank word documents would show us the way, we decided to do something about it.
Let’s write! For the love of writing and for the discipline we lacked. We wrote down rules.
Must write 5 articles in a week.
Articles 1, 2 and 3 must be submitted before 12pm of Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.
Articles 4 and 5 can be submitted anytime between Friday and Sunday (12am)
Minimum word count: 100 words
Fiction and non-fiction may be submitted.
No poetry. Nobody wants to read that.
All posts must be marked ‘read’ by the other member. Feedback is optional.
If any of the co-founders want to add a rule, a mutual consensus must be arrived at by discussion.
You are allowed to slack off three times in a month, no questions asked.
An extra two can be taken in case of death or displacement.
If articles 1, 2 and 3 are not submitted before deadline (a half an hour margin may be kept), the defaulter will be charged 50 Rs.
On slacking off more than three times a month, a fine of 100 Rs will be levied.
If either member backs out mid-month (due to de-motivation, extreme cynicism or any other reason) the fine levied will be 800 Rs.
We were pretty broke at this time, so having to pay money seemed like good motivation.
We started off superbly, we were eager and this little secret project of ours made us feel incredibly cool. I came up with the name Small Fry and it seemed like a great idea to call it Project small fry, like it was an important mission like Project Manhattan or Project Chicago. What? It was a big deal for us.
We wrote stories filled with angst and philosophy, about moon gazing and navel gazing, our fickle lives in this fickle city and about the illusions of passion and the hollowness of existence. Little vignettes that tried to be dark and funny. Short fiction that we would break up into series to take the pressure off. Gosh, we were cute.
For the first month, we sent in our stories way before deadline and discussed it excitedly the next day at work (we shared a desk). And by the end of it (4 months it lasted. Kind of poetic, no) we were writing it 3 minutes before deadline.
When it became a chore, we gave it up.
Six months later, we were back to our emo gtalk conversations about our lives and where we were heading.
Then randomly, one day, Sheena sent me an outline for a website. A tribute, two columns….
We both had the same guidelines in our head, don’t write for the lowest common denominator (we do that at work anyway and we were inspired by David Simon’s “Fuck the average reader” philosophy.), don’t explain all your references, if they didn’t get it, they were not our intended readers anyway. And just like that, this website began.
Every Sunday, we sit down with our laptops for about 5 hours, 3 out of which are spent talking or playing scrabble and writing.
It’s been four months since we started. We figured out wordpress, asked all our friends for opinions and masthead designs and even if four months is nothing to get nostalgic about, what the hell.
Okay now for the next bit. We are changing things up here a bit. The Dr. Deman column is now defunct. No, we haven’t run out of heroes, hero-worshipping comes naturally to us. But there will be a whole new thing to look forward to next week and you guys are going to love it. YAAAAAAY. Already, so much excite.
Picture by Nikhil Chalam