[This is a re-post from elsewhere, as Blogger was unhelpful earlier.]
Got my BBC Writers' Academy rejection email yesterday, as did many others. I didn't progress from the longlist of 156 to the top 30 candidates. Bad news: there were at least 30 scripts entered that were better than mine. Good news: I can now make plans for September-December.
Curiously, I was less affected than when I last applied in 2008. Back then the Academy seemed like the be-all and end-all of my ambitions. I'd done a successful trial script for Doctors, but couldn't get a story of the day pitch banked to save my life. I didn't have an agent, didn't have many prospects. It was crushing.
Fortunately, I had the Doctors shadow scheme ahead to help quell my disappointment. That led to my first commission in 2009, and things have snowballed from there. I now have an agent, three eps of Doctors to my name and have written five eps of Nina and the Neurons, due for broadcast on CBeebies this year.
The Academy is no longer the sole focus of my ambitions. Getting in would be a brilliant turbo-boost, accelerating me from 30 minute to hour-long drama. It's a big leap, and one not easily made. The Academy would have helped with that transition, giving me direct access to the likes of Casualty and Holby City.
But the Academy is not the only way to make a great leap forwards. Writing a great, original spec script can get you noticed. If you live in Wales, Scotland or Ireland, you could target one of the drama series made locally. The BBC runs shadow schemes for all its continuing drama series, in addition to the Academy.
Don't forget radio drama, a great place to hone your craft as a writer. The BBC commissions dozens of new scribes every year for that medium. One credit there makes you a more credible prospect. And there are plenty of other schemes and competitions, like Get A Squiggle On and the Red Planet Prize.
If you pin all your hopes on a single opportunity like the Academy, it's like staking your mortgage on a longshot at the Grand National. A few people end up smiling, but most lost out. So for everyone who got their rejection emails yesterday, I know exactly how you feel. It's time to shrug, and move to the next thing.