London Calling

This morning I received a package from the BBC. My initial impressions were not good ones; the package was too heavy to be an acceptance letter. It could only be a rejection slip together with the original manuscript.

One of the things I want to do with this blog is to give the reader an idea of what it’s like to be a writer. One the principle components of a writer’s life (this one, anyway 🙂 is rejection.

Some years ago, I wrote a play based on Raymond Chandler’s hard-boiled detective, Philip Marlowe. It was produced by the student theatre at the University of Exeter. We had a wonderful cast and the rehearsals, though time-consuming, were great fun. Half way through the rehearsal process, however, it became clear that exam commitments would make it very difficult for some of the actors to perform the play so, with some reluctance, it was shelved.

This was, of course, an early lesson in the fragile art of theatre, and I don’t look back on our work with regret because I know it would have been a fun play to watch – that information alone, for a struggling playwright, is enough.

Last year, I decided to rewrite the play in a radio format. It very much conforms to the ‘old radio theatre’ coventions of footsteps at night, screams, doors banging, and the occasional gunshot – all bound up in a good character-driven story. I sent the story to the BBC, where it would be considered as a ‘calling-card’ script by a new writer.

Alas, it hasn’t worked out that way. Now I have the manuscript back (though I expressly asked the BBC to save their postage and shred it) and a nice rejection letter to boot.

Am I pessimistic? No. Like Thomas Eddison with his light bulb, I have now successfully proved that one of my scripts does not work.

Back to my laboratory…

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Ian Hocking

Writer and psychologist.

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