Friday, November 09, 2007


Some writing competitions require you to enter entirely under a pseudonym. So the other day Maxine Desk, who inexplicably lives at my address yet doesn't contribute a penny to the food bill, got a letter from a theatre company saying how sorry they were she'd been rejected, how they knew this was a blow.

I couldn't even remember entering the contest, I don't know what I sent, I don't know who these people are. If there's a real Maxine Desk out there waiting for news on her script, let me know. No need to hurry.

This utter blankness over a contest I've entered is unusual, yes. But I'm minded of it because the reverse has happened today: a contest I've said before would be the best TV writing competition in the world, ever, if they had only thought to beef up the prize. Really, they were so close: a guaranteed TV commission, a guaranteed TV agent, some cash and the opportunity to work with Tony Jordan plus a good stab at getting your winning script filmed. Would it have hurt them to add a bacon sandwich and an iPhone?

I haven't made the cut.

This time, though, even more than remembering who I emailed my entry to, I also know the names of the judging panel and they are all people I rate very highly: Stephen Fry, Julie Gardner, it goes on, you count them, I can't face it. So instead of a faceless producer, there's a panel of people whose writing I admire and who do not admire my writing. To be practical here, they might have loved and cherished every syllable, but I didn't make the cut and a miss is as good as a mile.

There won't be feedback on this one (Red Planet's judges must've read at least 20,000 pages of script, they'd never be able to comment usefully on my 10) which usually means you have to shrug and move on. The scale and weight of this one means that's harder to do, and it's much easier to re-examine the material and try to guess where I got it wrong. So I'll obviously be doing a bit of that.

But otherwise, you know what needs to be done next, don't you? Every sane person in this world would tell you that that thing to do is to keep writing and, if you were even halfway clever you would already have other things out there. I have other things out there.

But still, I'm tired of being a rebel. I am stopping writing now, it's all over. I've been eating my own bacon sandwich while I've talked to you and soon I'm going out to buy my own iPhone.


PS. Rackfay is pig latin, if you hadn't guessed.


Christine said...

My assumption is that Stephen Fry, Julie Gardner, et. al. haven't seen a syllable of any entry yet, and the first round of rejecting came at the hands of a stable of readers.

So if it makes you feel any better, you probably have been dealt a blow by an anonymous entity.

William Gallagher said...

That does help, yes, thank you. I'm sure you're right, too, because that'd surely be the only sensible way to handle that volume of submissions.

But I've met Julie quite often and I've interviewed Stephen Fry, I found their presence on the panel a gulp. The other day I heard Alan Alda talking about celebrity and how he sees in people who approach him, and in himself as well, a strange loss of motor control when meeting someone you admire.

And he says it is common, very common, for people to come up to him and say "You're my biggest fan".

Isn't that fascinating?