Writers have to accept rejection as part of the process. We need to take each rejection email, text, letter and strap it to ourselves as another bit of armour. And we need that armour to help us through the long marathon that is being a writer.
I started taking writing seriously by writing comedy (yeah I see it too!) back in 2013 with what I thought was the best sitcom ever written. I sent it in to a BBC writersroom competition for Northern Irish writers called ‘Craic Off’ in 2014. It fell as the first hurdle. I was gutted. I ranted and raved in the privacy of my own home about how they wouldn’t know a good comedy if it squirted water from a fake flower into their face.
That first rejection was one of the best things to happen to me as a writer. I recently looked at that submission which was called ‘This Family Anderson’ and they were right. It is crap. But that was a lesson I had to learn.
I now take each rejection as a learning process. As writers, if we can’t absorb and learn from criticism, we are in the wrong business.
Flash forward to 2017. Darren Gibson and I sent in our feature script ‘Bye Bye Blackbird’ to the 2017-2018 NI Screen ‘New Writers Focus’ scheme. To be honest, I’d all but forgotten that we had sent it in so when Darren sent me a message a few months later that began with ‘are you sitting down?’ I thought he was messing. I was so used to rejection that getting accepted on to the course was quite a shock.
It was the start of an incredible six month mentoring process with NI Screen who took what we already thought was a good script, completely dismantled it and then helped us make it even better. I can’t stress enough how much NI Screen and especially Ursula (Development Executive, NI Screen) have helped Darren and I as writers.
The culmination was the New Writers Focus showcase in the Crescent Arts Centre on 29th March where Darren and I, along with the other writers on the scheme (Patrick Loughran ‘Kemi’ & Teresa McGowan ‘A Bump Along The Way’) heard sections of our scripts read out by 10 of the finest NI actors working today.
Our characters in ‘Bye Bye Blackbird’ have become like family to us over the years as we have discovered more about them so to hear them brought to life was quite something.
For any new writers out there, I can’t recommend the New Writers Focus enough. The 2018-2019 scheme is now open so polish off that feature script and get it submitted!