Category Archives: Writing and rejection

Never, ever, ever throw anything away.


A writer I knew once, in the depths of despair after a snowstorm of rejections – like buses, they always arrive together – took every single thing she had ever written and made a bonfire in the garden and burnt it all, and swore never to write another word again.

First of all, let me make it clear, I was not this writer, as in “There’s this friend of mine …” I’m not a good liar, which is why I probably write fiction. Everyone knows you’ve made it up, so it doesn’t matter and you also get to practise the lying part. And secondly, if I ever set fire to everything I’d ever written, I’d need a far larger location than my garden.

But the thing I admired about my friend, the writer, was the certainty with which she could decide to destroy all that time and effort, all those ideas, all the emotional input and give up writing. I wished I could be that brave, that sure of never needing to get those infernal words out of my head. If you can stop writing and not miss it, then you are very lucky. I’ve taken breaks from writing and filled them with travelling, working abroad, jam making and allotments and finally children before I gave up and went back to writing, bizarrely when I had the least time of all.

Just because you’ve had something rejected many times over, doesn’t mean that there isn’t a market for it somewhere, (see Rejection and the Boomerang post). A few years ago, I wrote a short film script. It was a coming of age story and it attracted some interest but never got made. It garnered its own little pile of rejections but I’d rather have that than dust and then out of the blue, an opportunity presented itself. A friend needed a script for a group of actors. Did I have anything that would fit? I had something that was almost right – that coming of age story. Since writing the original, I’ve changed computers several times and whilst everything’s backed up on disks, it was much easier to open a filing drawer and put my hand on the script.

There’s something about hard copy that’s satisfying – the feel of paper in your hand and it’s harder to ignore or pass over in the way you can a title in a document file. You can’t delete it in a temporary angst driven aberration. Like my writer friend, you have to give it a proper funeral pyre and if you expend all your energy in blue sky thinking like me, that’s a deterrent in itself.

But when you unearth this old script, be prepared. It’ll be a bit like seeing yourself in an old photograph next to a mirror – you’ll have moved on a fair few years but it’s what’s inside your head that matters not the exterior and best of all, your story gets another chance and you, another bite at the cherry. So whatever way you store it, hang on to it – all that person power and imagination. Don’t consign it to the digital dustbin or add to global warming. Keep it safe.

“Last Tango” is now in post production at ALRA North, Wigan.

There’s a special summer offer on my Anthology, “Life, Love and Holidays” on Amazon –

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Filed under Film writing, Short films, Writing and rejection

Rewriting and the boomerang

There are some things in life that nobody tells you, which perhaps is a good thing because if they did, you wouldn’t do those things, like say, giving birth. Nobody tells you how much it’s going to hurt, even though you’ve sat through whole days of classes and birth videos you’ve watched with one eye closed, read enough pamphlets to wallpaper the Albert Hall and chosen your favourite music to deliver by. They just don’t tell you about the pain.

It’s exactly the same with writing classes and rejection. They mention it, they tell you not to take it personally but they won’t even begin to touch on how it will feel – so let’s not go there. I was lucky with my first submission, I didn’t have to wait long for it to be rejected. And it hurt but not enough to stop me from writing something else and rewriting that first submission, when I could bring myself to look at it again.

But sometimes there’s nothing wrong with the story – you’ve just sent it to the wrong market. That first short story I wrote was a boomerang, it went out and it came back, again and again and again. To be fair, I hadn’t heard of writing for the market when I wrote it. I had that first burst of inspiration and away I went, so it had everything – a love interest, a ghost, a murder, a dream sequence and a heroine who liked gardening. I quickly learnt to research short story markets and one rainy afternoon in a large branch of a national newsagents I was rewarded, I found a women’s magazine, fresh on the market, with a story about fairies in a compost heap. Could it be possible my boomerang had found its home. I sent it off and to paraphrase Jane Austen and Rolf Harris – “Reader, my boomerang didn’t come back!”

What I learnt? Don’t throw anything away, don’t despair, keep researching and writing – oh yeah, and rewriting.

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Filed under Writing and rejection