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…

Author: Ian Hocking

Writer and psychologist.

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