Getting fired off a script, and unexpected words of support… Here’s some different things I’ve been thinking a lot about this past month. Maybe there’s something here to interest you too?

SO I GOT FIRED OFF A SCRIPT THIS MONTH…

Yeah, so this month I was officially let go from a script. I sensed it was coming but yep, it still sucked. It was for a kids show I was heavily involved with in development and had already contributed a number of scripts to. It was the (un)lucky last script for me though as, despite the producers’ being really happy with my work up unto that point, they were not happy with one particular outline.

Sadly, they kind of didn’t tell me straight away, saying instead that they’d parked it as it wasn’t right and they were going to wait and see how some of the other scripts came together before working out what to do with it… Unfortunately, despite asking after it several times, and offering to revise it, all I got was radio silence. That is until it was time for me to send through an invoice for the other work I’d completed (funny how invoices tend to get a response out of people). Only in replying to that email did they say in passing they weren’t pursuing the script with me and I could send through my final invoice. Grand.

To say I’m disappointed with how the situation was handled would be quite the understatement; the producers’ communication skills have been lacking throughout the process and the truth is, they’re green, so I shouldn’t have been that surprised. But…

I must have delivered a real stinker! Was it really that bad? Obviously. Am I a complete and utter fraud? Ouch. But…

Why didn’t they give me the chance to revise the work? How frustrating. They knew I knew the show, and I’ve delivered for them before. I would have happily written up a new story if they’d wanted. I do actually like the show very much and am incredibly proud of the work I’ve done on it. For all their faults in dealing with me personally, I can’t argue with this producer’s ability to deliver a brilliant looking product, so I’m really looking forward to seeing the finished series. But…

Knowing you haven’t done a good job is never going to not hurt.

Getting rejected is never going to not hurt.

Anyway. There was a small part of me that was also kind of pumped. All great screenwriters have been fired at some point, right? Hahaha, uh, yeah. With Sydney still in a pandemic-induced lockdown, I couldn’t call a mate and hit the pub to drown my sorrows and laugh the whole thing off. But I could turn to Twitter…

HOW SCREENWRITING TWITTER CAME THROUGH WITH THE VIRTUAL HUGS

Without much thought, I tweeted that I’d been fired off a script, and asked people how I should celebrate. What I wanted was someone to basically just tell me that yes, it was totally fine to order a whole chocolate cake for myself and eat it in one sitting.

Instead, I got a bunch of thoughtful replies from various Aussie screenwriters commiserating and sharing compassionate words of advice. Yes, lots mentioned imbibing alcohol (these are writers after all) but I was completely thrown and genuinely touched by these brief but precious words from other screenwriters who knew exactly what it felt like to be going through this.

Thank you to Shane who said, “Celebrate like this: Think about the MANY times you’ve been told your work is awesome, while having a drink or two. And then think about how many years you’ve been paid to be a writer – which is not something you would’ve been able to sustain without bucket loads of talent.”

Thank you to Hannah who said, “What, you’ve gone this far without this happening? You’re winning. Pour a cocktail and put your feet up.”

Thank you to Ella who added, “More time for your next awesome project. Woo!”

Thank you to Stu who told me, “I’m sorry Wendy. It happens for all sorts of reasons & not always obvious ones. You’ll find yourself in six months working with the same people again. Drink wine & reassure yourself.”

Thank you to Blake who followed up with, “Okay, there is gorgeous Stu Page’s excellent and wise response. Do as he says. But, it’s okay to feel angry and bear a grudge against the situation, and those ppl, which is the Ayshford doctrine. And it is a badge of honour as everyone has been fired. Certified writer now!”

Thank you to Andy who also followed up with, “Every writer has a hit list. Just don’t share it”, which was soon followed by Kris who said, “It’s the main reason I keep writing. So that one day I might attain such vast writerly power that I shall crush all those who have wronged me. That, and the fact that I’m otherwise unemployable.”

Thank you to Samantha who told me, “I hate it so much. Try not to let it dent your confidence. Maybe write something just for you as an antidote if you have the time.”

And thank you to Marieke who said, “It hurts so much! And it passes. I hope you’ve been treated with respect and kindness from those you’ve been collaborating with. All of us have copped it, all of us buckle up and ride again. Love and solidarity. x”.

How bloody marvellous is all that? I hope if you’re ever in a similar position, you can think of these words too. They’ve helped. They’ve bolstered. And yep, always always always buckle up and ride again…

Stay safe peeps! xx

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