Inspiration, Enablement, Empowerment – from the heart

Handling Rejection

Yesterday I received a rejection email. Just over a week ago I submitted a piece of writing that I hoped would be my ticket to LA, to joining the writing team behind what might well be the TV series of 2014 as they prepare to take their show into its second series next year. No, that’s not quite accurate; I much more than just hoped I would get the gig. In many ways, it could have been made for me. And I had the strongest feeling ever, that it was mine, that I’d get there. I did visualisation, I asked the Universe and I was getting messages that seemed to say “Be confident, believe, it’s yours!” my dreams were filled with images of Southern California, of brainstorming storylines, of sparking off with people who are creatively on my level, of networking with A-listers… and taking it all in my stride as though this was the most natural thing to be happening, as though I were born to it.

The dreams began a couple of nights before I heard of the opportunity. The first one was particularly vivid, of being flown out to LA for someone’s party… just whose party it was, or why they needed me there so badly, isn’t among the details that I remembered on waking. One thing I do remember though, is how hard I was resisting “…but I have to be in London the next night, I just can’t…” was one line. Yet next thing I know, I’m there… and stressing about getting back for whatever important engagement it was that I needed to get back for.

So when I heard about the opportunity, I just had to chase it up. I went hunting online… in particular I mounted a twitter campaign to get in the right people’s faces and which resulted in a direct message from the Director of the show herself, giving me her PA’s contact details! I got a pretty quick reply from the PA too. What was required was a short story of two to three pages, double spaced…

I’ve written a lot of things in my life, but I don’t recall a single instance of a short story being among them. I’ve considered writing short stories before… usually when I get stuck midway through Chapter 3 of my latest unfinished novel… now the unfinished novel’s a genre I excel at, though I’ve sometimes thought that if I’d started a short story instead, I’d have completed it by now. I write quite a lot of unfinished poems too… though some of my poems I have actually finished; or at least got them to a place where I can let them go. In actual fact, no writing is ever finished. If it had been a script or a synopsis they’d wanted, I’d have been much more in my element… and that would have made a lot more sense to me as a request too. But a short story? Well, I wasn’t going to get that far and not submit something

I was stumped… three pages maximum, double spaced… that’s 75 lines, around 700 words… tricky! And I had around 72 hours to get it done. I used up two thirds of that time playing around with a couple of half-ideas and getting nowhere. There was no real inspiration happening. Then with a day left, I remembered I’d made some notes a few months ago for a sitcom idea… and some elements of that were a pretty good fit for the brief. So I took a vignette from a scene outline and adapted it. You can always use your uncompleted fragments as backup when the muse is away! My first attempt resulted in two and a half pages of scene setting… no good! So I cut that back drastically and developed a little story line that ended with possibilities dangling. By the time I’d tidied everything up, it was near bedtime. So I sent the email and relaxed.

At 5:45 the next morning, I woke with a start. Something was wrong… Something was very wrong… What was wrong? I’d forgotten something. What had I forgotten and why couldn’t it wait until I’d finished sleeping? I hadn’t finished sleeping! I needed to finish sleeping so I could wake up refreshed and think about it properly… Then the awful possibility hit and I realised why it wouldn’t wait and why I couldn’t sleep any more… the submission… I couldn’t remember attaching anything to the email!!!

I shot out of bed, turned on my desktop, dashed to the loo while it booted… being vertical for the first time in the morning does something strange to my bladder… came back and checked my email. And there it was. An email from the PA, timestamped at 5:45 (I think it passed through my sleeping brain on the way to my inbox). Her email said “Thia, There is nothing attached.” Then I had the realisation… eight hours time difference… still a couple of hours before midnight in LA! I could still make the deadline! I resent, with the attachments and an apology.

And after that, it didn’t work out. There was a time not so long ago, when I’d have been devastated by this. Rejection was something that terrified me; yet failure was something I would regularly set myself up for. Not any more. This was a valuable learning experience that I’m grateful for having been given. I have made contacts that I wouldn’t otherwise have made and I’ve been reminded that I have a project waiting in the wings that I can work up and tout around. And it’s the most original sitcom idea ever! I’ve also accepted that, while I can write rather well and enjoy writing – and the challenge and the new environment and the collaboration would have been a very welcome learning experience, the point would have arrived where I’d find it difficult to be writing around someone else’s ideas and creations… and writing is never an end in itself for me… it’s a route toward performing, because that is what resonates best with me. A month or two in, I’d have been angling for a part…

Comments on: "Handling Rejection" (4)

  1. First, thank you for the tip, and for the help/encouragement. I didn’t get through and I kind of was expecting that…so while it is a rejection I am okay with it.

    Like you, I thought it was right that I should get that opportunity. I too had a bit of an issue with the word/length limits but I am happy that I got the chance to write something new and something me.


  2. You came damned close Thia. That’s super impressive. Use it as a platform for what’s next. Many people don’t get within a thousand miles of this, all their lives.

    I have learned in my life is the only thing that stops me getting what I want inside…is wanting it enough. I have done ‘impossible’ things in the past because of this.

    I had a little project in mind last year. I punted it out to a few friends, who run a support group. It involved getting a particular A List Hollywood Director involved in something. Not for a second did I think I wouldn’t be capable of it, if I decided to do it. And that doesn’t underestimate how difficult t might be, No matter how long it took. The friends didn’t want to pursue it – they messed up in my view on that. But I would have done it – somehow, eventually – no question.

    Have you thought, by the way, of not taking no for an answer on this? (I don’t mean in a stalker-y way). Just keep that contact going. Actively stay in touch. Think about what the production will need, find out who they are working with…send the studio occasional stuff…there will be the next series…people move on…other networks look to doing something similar…and so on…


    • Thank you! And yes, I take your point about ‘wanting it enough’ – though I’ve sometimes felt the reason things didn’t come to me wasn’t that I didn’t want them enough (sometimes I think I wanted them too much) but more that I either had no clue about where to begin looking for them, or was too afraid to ask the people who might have been able to show me the way, to make use of the contacts I had. I’m gradually learning to overcome both of those blocks. And yes, a few ‘impossible’ things have happened for me recently because of this!

      I’ve also found that ‘friends’ are often more ready to shoot down your dreams than they are to help build them. This is a shame, if only because I love working collaboratively. I too have ideas for projects – at least one of them involving A-listers and I’m trying to work out who I can pitch these to, because some of my ideas tend to be a little off-the-wall – this is where the ‘friends’ never seem to get it – I’ll run an idea past people and they’ll switch off or scratch their heads or look all open-mouthed and incredulous and then respond with “No… that’ll never work!”

      And thank you for the ‘staying in touch’ advice. I’ve been thinking of ways I can stay in their sights… or perhaps dancing around the periphery of their consciousness… I’ve considered fan fiction… though I do have a superb series idea of my own and as part of my research for this particular gig, I watched some video of the Director talking about how she was at the end of her rope in the industry and was getting turned down for writing jobs (sounds strangely familiar!) when she got her hands on just enough cash to make a short that had some great reviews, which made it possible for her to make this series. So perhaps emulating her would be a better way forward than working for her…

      I see your blog is marked Private btw… now I’m intrigued!


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