Summer/Autumn/Winter 2021

Well, if my earlier post Winter 2020/Spring 2021 was all about writing my episode of Tales from Malory Towers, then Summer 2021 was when I got to hear it for the first time. 

Hearing your words out loud for the first time is always wonderful.  

Whether that be in a rehearsal room for stage, or through my headphones on the BBC Sounds app. Both glorious, both nerve-wracking, but also bloody marvellous. Writing is such a lonely beast, but the exciting part is when the script is handed over for collaborators to do their jobs. 

I was at work when I received the email that informed me that Malory Towers was now live. I grabbed my phone and headphones and found an empty classroom so I could listen to it all on my own. I didn’t want any distractions spoiling my first listen. 

To say that I was over the moon with the production is an understatement. I was incredibly proud and still am satisfied with The Bomb. If only I could time-travel and visit Clayton Green library, where nine-year-old me used to sit and read the Malory Towers books. I would tell her that one day she’ll write her own story for Irene, Jean and Gwendoline. It would be played out on the BBC and lots of youngsters would also love that school and those girls like she did. 

Younger me would never believe it. Writing was something that only posh people could do. Not people who live on Clayton Brook estate. It should never have been like that. 

Straight from delivering my Malory Towers script, I sought what I hoped would be another writing commission. I was invited to pitch for an audio story. After months of finessing my treatment, I was given the go-ahead late in the year to go to script. Watch this space. 

In November, I took part in a 48 Hour Filmmaking challenge at 53 Two in Manchester. Six directors, six writers, many actors, a prop and a line of dialogue were the key ingredients for cooking up a short film. We met at 7pm on a Friday night, and by 7pm on Sunday night, we watched the screening of the six films made. It was a hoot. My film is called Through the Keyhole, which can be viewed here. Ours was a small team, two actresses. My personal goal was to ensure that these actresses had a fun script to perform and that I wanted to hear laughter in the screening. Covid was a tough time, and I hadn’t heard collective live laughter in years. Mission accomplished.

A huge personal upheaval for me came in June 2021 when I was diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). I wrote about it here on Medium, but this has been a big upheaval emotionally and mentally. It took a number of months to fully process the diagnosis, followed by an intense grieving period.  

Having the diagnosis has meant that I now understand why many things are difficult for me to do. From a creative point of view, one of those things is my inability to write during my lunch break. Many of my friends can do this. I would love to be able to do this, but it’s always been a struggle. Now I know why. My job has evolved, but it’s pretty much a data processing job now, and that sort of work exhausts a neurodivergent brain. So, instead of being frustrated with me, I now understand that it is nothing to do with ambition or drive. I just cannot switch tasks as easy as neurotypical brains. And that is okay. 

The same with writing projects. The amount of conversations that I have where writers are able to juggle multiple projects astounds me. I can focus on one at a time.  

I’ve berated myself for the past 14 years, constantly comparing myself with others. What a waste of energy that was. Whilst the diagnosis has been tough in a number of ways, one thing that is positive is I’m kinder to myself and stop pushing myself to exhaustion in order to keep up with everyone else.