It’s always wonderful to reflect, and that is one skill that I am good at – reflecting on little wins which I might not have sung about at the time. It’s important to take stock of accomplishments as well as rejections. Fact is, that writing generally comes with more rejections.
In the Winter of 2020 I received one of those joyful emails that only come around once in a blue moon.
I’d been invited to apply for a BBC Writersrom call-out. I was made up to be offered the opportunity to apply to be honest, but it was a short turnaround to send a script plus all the accompanying materials to support the application which are answers to a number of questions etc. I find those question and answer things tough. I never know what to say with them. You don’t want to appear too confident but also don’t want to sound like an amateur. I overthink every single one of those call-outs.
Turns out if you contract the delta variant of Covid and are very poorly, you don’t overthink anything as your brain is as foggy as mornings in San Francisco Bay.
I was delighted to receive the email notifying me that I was being offered a place on the BBC CBBC New Voices Festival in the November of 2020.
Two whole days of back to back industry panels, workshops and the opportunity to pitch for a number of CBBC commissions. It was a fantastic festival, and I was thankful for it being online as I was still suffering from covid. In fact that first infection took 5 months to fully recover from.
I applied for a couple of commissions on kids TV shows, and a new podcast for Malory Towers to accompany the television series.
It was the Malory Towers one that I wanted more than anything. I was a huge fan of the books as I grew up. Spending Saturdays in Clayton Green library reading all about Darryl, Gwen and Mary-Lou. And audio is a medium I feel so comfortable writing for. The many episodes I’d written for ALL FM’s soap ‘Station Road‘ a number of years earlier had made their mark on me as I found visualising storytelling in sound rather than pictures something those weekly read-throughs of Station Road had ingrained in me.
So I set to work and watched series one of Malory Towers on CBBC. I took notes of all the characters, their flaws, how they spoke, their relationships and I re-visited the original books by Enid Blyton. I sent two pitches for that show and crossed my fingers over Christmas that I might get one of them.
I could not believe it when the acceptance email came back from BBC Writersroom to say that my pitch for ‘The Bomb’ had been chosen as one of the twelve. Like I said, writing is mostly being rejected unless you’re a big name like Sally Wainwright or Danny Brocklehurst (although they probably still receive the odd rejection to a pitch). The idea for The Bomb came from our opening episode of Station Road where an unexploded bomb is found in the local park. We used it as a tool to introduce characters quickly. I had this concept of Irene finding a bomb in the school grounds and I also had a strong image of Gwendoline’s brush being thrown out of a bedroom window with a lacrosse stick. All I needed now was a story.
This leads onto Spring 2021 where I found myself writing a treatment and three drafts of ‘The Bomb‘ for King Bert Productions. I enjoyed every second of the process. Audio is a dream for me. I’ve been a huge fan of radio drama since listening to it whilst doing my MA. Then I discovered podcasts in 2014 on a train heading down to London Screenwriters Festival and listened to this new show that people were starting to talk about called Serial. I was hooked. This medium of storytelling felt fresh, exciting and full of possibilities.
At the same time as writing The Bomb, I was also working full-time and in the last months of my two-year PGCE. So many deadlines and pressures around that time which is when I discovered London Writers Salon‘s Writers Hour. It was simple, turn up on zoom and write for 50 minutes alongside writers from all over the world. It was and still is a fantastic accountability partner. I turned up for their 8am and 1pm Writers Hour over two months whilst I got my draft 2 and final draft written for Malory Towers.
We were also still suffering with covid lockdowns over this period too. Thank goodness that I could lose myself at Malory Towers for a couple of hours a day. It was way more fun hanging out with Irene and Jean than it was watching Boris’ daily covid briefings.