Someone, I don’t remember who, once likened the writing process to the work of a sculpter.  In this view, the writer isn’t so much creating as attempting to free their vision imprisoned within.  Somewhere in that hunk of stone, or deep inside the mind of the writer, exists the perfect version of what has been imagined.  How close one gets to achieving that version is entirely dependent on the skill of said artist. In other words, there are no impossible ideas; simply a variation in the ability to execute them.  A talented sculpter, for instance, will know where to chip away and how much to remove in order to liberate that trapped masterpiece.  Similarly, a writer strives to attain that faultless script by finding innovative solutions to seemingly insurmountable problems and, most importantly, by not settling.  In other words, they don’t rely on coincidence or contrivance to fix narrative shortcomings. There is always a better way to tell that story.

In truth, no work is flawless. There is never enough time achieve that ideal.  An artist, however, owes it to their audience to try to get as close as possible.

I bring this up because, today, I had a breakthrough on a pilot idea that had me stymied for weeks.  It’s a challenging premise and there were times I wanted to give up but, instead, whenever I grew frustrated, I merely set the pilot aside for a while and redirected focus to other matters.   And then, this afternoon, finally, that hitherto elusive piece of the puzzle snapped into place and a key part of the script took form.  As I knew it would.  Eventually.  It’s just a matter of putting yourself in the proper frame of mind to tap the answer.  It’s there, in your head, somewhere.

I can’t tell you how many times, while I was working on Stargate, I’d hit an impasse on a story at the outline stage.  Rather than worry about it, I’d assure myself that, when the time came, the solution would present itself.  And it always did. Surprisingly (or maybe not that surprisingly), when all was said and done, those  latent ideas would prove the script’s most memorable moments.

And so I return to the pilot-in-progress, confident I can make it work. It’s a long way from being finished, an even longer way from being perfect, but it’s a small step in the right direction.

42 thoughts on “April 11, 2013: Sculpting the perfect script!

  1. Yep, rather than continually frustrating yourself at a roadblock of any kind (like writing, remembering or looking for something, busy yourself with something else and if you wait long enough, eventually the roadblock disappears long enough to make some headway…. and then, of course, comes another roadblock, but nevermind for now… Glad to see that the wheels are turning, juices flowing, cogs are oiled, etc. Mine aren’t.

  2. We’re expecting a snowstorm and the furnace is not working. On the bright side, it’ll be smo-o-o-o-o-th sailing once the weather warms up again in a few days and we continue our trek towards spring.

  3. @Joe:

    Interesting post…I’ve heard the “freeing the artwork” metaphor before, but I’ve never heard it applied to writing. And I can’t say that it applies to either the current work I do (engineering) or when I used to have the time, the sketching or painting I used to do (I was trying to exercise the other side of my brain). When I was 8 or so, I even thought I might be an artist.

    For me, sketching and painting was more about perception and application (at least when drawing people). My brain’s view of their personalities or moods would get in the way of my renderings. If I had a photo to work from, I often found it better to draw from it upside down, so that I wouldn’t readily read emotional cues into the drawing.

    On the engineering designs that I do now, I’ll often run into design roadblocks that leave me stymied, and just like you, I find it’s best to walk away for awhile, and come back to it later. More often than not, a solution presents itself…usually an elegant one.

    Glad to see you’re making progress pilot…I can’t wait to see it (hopefully on a big or little screen soon).

    @for the love of Beckett:

    JeffW, I never knew you were a head thwacker.

    Well when you word it that WAY, I’m not sure I want to be a head thwacker… 😀

    And if anyone is wondering why I’m being so loquacious tonight; I’m waiting in Detroit for my flight back to Chicago. The flight has already been delayed twice…any bets for a third delay? If it gets cancelled, I’ll be making a late night drive to Chicago to make sure I’ll be home for my birthday tomorrow. Fingers crossed…

  4. @Joe:

    And an early thanks!


    Bingo! Now delayed to 10:20pm. I think I better check to see when the car rental closes…

  5. Best of luck with your script work Joe, hope it all works out for you.

    Lol, which reminds me, been wishing you luck with your script stuff for years now, whenever you post about it, odd that. I guess I’m just nice lol

  6. Happy birthday, JeffW and have a safe drive to Chicago. Hubby left Chicago with semi this afternoon, but it was more rain than snow then.

  7. I’ve always admired an artists ability to see possibilities. One thing about creating something, the hardest part for me is letting it go. I see the flaws, even if no one else notices. Do you ever have a hard time sharing a story?

    I’m glad you got over the hump. Let it flow now? Fingers crossed!

    @JeffW: Happy early birthday! Safe travels and hope the plane is on time.

  8. @ ftloB – RE: The Impossible Apostrophe. AAAARRRRGGGGHHH!!! I REALLY failed all the way round! 😛

    But then again, so did Jeff. 😀


  9. “And so I return to the pilot-in-progress, confident I can make it work. It’s a long way from being finished, an even longer way from being perfect, but it’s a small step in the right direction.”

    There you go….think positive and move along. 🙂

  10. Joe, I’m sure your pilot will turn out great whenever you get it finished. Hurry up. Television is soooo boring.

    @ JeffW – Happy birthday!! In honor of the occasion, I think you should smoke something (in your meat smoker – what did you think I meant?), and bake a homemade, fully loaded pizza, and top it off by making one of your awesome cheesecakes (with chocolate on top). I know you love to cook these things and I think you should do what you love to do on your birthday. Just call me when it’s ready. 🙂

  11. I know and understand the feeling about the writing as I have been working on my own pilot script and script drafts that I am pitching to a few places. Of course it didn’t help matters that the one person who asked I have scripts ready for a pitch session – when I was supposed to have been working on essaysr my university classes – turned out to not have any real decision-making power and didn’t read anything I wrote (the second part I had no problem with but the first part I had issue with due to my now overdue essays!!!). However, the pressure was a positive thing for me with the script but the same cannot be said for my poor essays. But hey, I did get the first 200 words of the 1000 word essay done tonight, THAT is a start!!!

    (This also lets me put a sticky scene I am working on for one of my draft scripts on the backburner…for now!!)

  12. Joey…shouldn’t you be sculpting the perfect abs? I mean, you do have a lovely young lady in your life now, so surely you don’t want to get a flabby muffin top gut. 😉


  13. @gforce, Tam Dixon, and Joan001:

    Thanks for the birthday wishes!

    I finally made it to Chicago, after more delays and then sitting on the Tarmac at Detroit for half an hour, the pilot informed us that the reason for the latest delay is that all but one of the runway lights at O’Hare went out. I immediately pictured the scene from Airplane where Johnny unplugs the runway lights and then says “Just kidding!”.

    So now we’ve landed at O’hare and the pilot informs us our gate is occupied. I have another half hour or more sitting on the Tarmac (again) waiting for the gate to open up. This is putting the total delays at around 3 hours.

    I wish I could sleep in, but I have conference calls at 8am 🙁

  14. @Jeff – Happy Birthday. Glad to hear your flight did get out.
    Just heard about the runway lights as well…and thought…oh man, Jeff is not going to be happy with an 8 hour drive.

    Good luck Joe….as we sit back and wait for the surprises you are writing.

  15. BTW, I did see Cookie Monster and Oscar the Grouch on a street corner on the Vegas Strip today. Nothing good can come of this.

  16. I’m reminded of a story Douglas Adams told on the process of writing the radio script for The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy. At the end of the first episode he’d had Ford and Arthur thrown out of the Vogon ship into the vacuum of space. He was fully expecting the show to be cancelled after the first episode so hadn’t put much thought into what to do in the second. When it came time to actually write the second episode with no cancellation in sight he couldn’t figure out how to save them. It was so improbable that two people floating in the vastness of space could be rescued. Almost infinitely improbable. And then it came to him and that’s how the Infinite Improbability Drive was invented. He turned the problem into the solution and the rest is history.

    @JeffW: Happy birthday! Glad you got home. I was imagining scenes from Planes, Trains and Automobiles rather than Airplane! but both would be equally unpleasant to happen in real life. I’m not sure if I’m around on the weekend of the 20th when you’re over here but as my diary firms up I’ll let you know.

  17. Congrats Joe! Writers block is a terrible thing, but I’m glad you managed to work through it.

    BTW…I know you’re on a roll but have you ever thought of writing a children’s book? I’m not suggesting anything in-depth (although you’re more than capable.) No, I’m thinking something for younger kids, a project that could earn a steady lucrative income…something about the dogs maybe? “Jelly’s big adventure.” comes to mind but hey…you can just ignore me!

  18. Happy Birthday @JeffW!!

    Congrats on the breakthrough Joe. I’ve been working on my writing as well. I come from a science background so my writing style tends towards report writing, although I also have a conversational style. Writing for the two fan sites I have created has been a great experience in creativity. If you’re interested check out the article I wrote for BamBam Fans on James’ recent TOIFA award for Best action in the Bollywood film Ek Tha Tiger. I was pretty proud of that article. It’s my best yet and I’m hoping to keep working on my writing.

    Ivon’s fansite is moving along slowly. I’m thinking of ideas for upcoming articles until he has news.

    That’s pretty much what I’ve been up to these past months. It’s been hectic at work as we set up a new library and move administration to new premises, while we roll out new IT equipment.

    I was reading about Jel…um J and at first I thought you could wean your friend of the pain medication but it’s pain medication and has been given for a reason. Is she in the same amount of pain as when it was first prescribed? I wish you all the very best. Your vet would know what’s best.

    Also I saw you’ll be moving to LA. That’s awesome news. Hope you get to run an awesome new SciFi show that needs lots of forest locations ‘cos I know just the place.

    I’m off to a convention on the weekend and will be meeting Julie McNiven, who awesomely packed her bags with very little notice when RyRo was unable to make it due to work commitments. Should be fun. I’m also meeting Eliza Dushku, Adam Baldwin and Alex Kingston. Wish me luck!

    Cheers, Chev

  19. A designer has achieved perfection not when there is nothing left to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.
    Adapted from:
    Antoine de Saint Exupéry

  20. Happy Birthday JeffW!

    Joe, does this mean we are now going to have to refer to you as “The Artist Formerly Known as Joseph Mallozzi”?

  21. Joe — Glad you got your writing breakthrough. Now things will be smoooooooth… Oops! That means something else here. 😀 You’ve worked through so many blocks that you know what to do with them. Walk away and leave them to their own devices. They’ll get back to you when they’re ready. Even the writer’s voice in your head says, “Don’t call us; we’ll call you.” Now if the various PTBs would give you a green light, we could actually watch one of those stories!

    Das — No beating yourself up, K? 🙂 Words are tough to wrangle, and their use (or misuse in social media) is contagious. I make the “you’re/your” boo-boo in e-mails, depending on what I’ve read recently. You are great with words. I love reading your posts. 😀

    JeffW — Whew, home safe and sound. Had to laugh at the head thwacking. 🙂 Sometimes brothers need a little adjustment when ragging on their sisters! Thought your solution was perfect, and not as dramatic as using “the board of education.” 😉 Thanks for the prayers! Will need them for a few months. Docs prescribed physical therapy for back pain. It’s going to be a journey, with, I hope and pray, excellent results at the end of it. Hey, Happy Birthday! Can we crash your party by looking at pictures later? Have a good nap and a fun time tonight!

  22. @JeffW – Happy Birthday!

    @Joe – Writing is 90% what you said, 10% not getting distracted by approving blog comments. Don’t you have work to do?

  23. @Ponytail:

    Normally I would be making my birthday meal (and enjoying it!), but a last-minute business trip (see above 😉 ), coupled with preparations for my flight to Europe on Sunday, put a bind on things.

    It usually takes a couple of days to have a cheesecake ready (lots of cooling and refrigeration time), so that was out. As for smoking, it has been unseasonably cold (37 degrees!) and my smoker would have been struggling. It still could have done it with an hour warm up time or so, but then it takes around 12 hours to do a good pulled-pork butt. Couple that with my flight delays last night and it just wasn’t going to happen. My family is taking me out to Sushi Station (kaiten-zushi) instead.

    I may still do an artichoke and mushroom on pesto pizza for myself tomorrow (when I’m all by myself due to everyone else having other things to do)…that should only take about half an hour (not counting dough rising time).


    Thanks for the birthday wishes!

    I’m not sure what caused the O’hare power outage, but it seemed the travel fairies were against me. After the gate-delay and during the taxi to the gate, I made the comment to the woman next to me that the only thing that would “complete” our travel experience was to have the jet-way bridge break. She looked at me in shock; the idea had never occurred to her. Fortunately, all went smoothly from there and I finally made it home around 1:15am.

    I did find this on the power outage, but still no explanation:

    @Line Noise:

    Thanks for the birthday wishes. And I’m glad I made it home too. It wasn’t the worst travel experience I’ve ever had (not by a long-shot), so I wasn’t too upset, just a little aggravated.

    On the coffee, just let me know (via my blog is probably easiest). I’ll be meeting some friends for Sunday, but Saturday is fairly open. If I remember right, you’re around Bath? As for venues, (if you’re able to meet up) maybe Jacobs Coffee House or the Pump Room? I’ll be on expenses, so my treat.

  24. That was an absolutely wonderful comparison, sculpter and writer. I do see the similarities. I also admire your self confidence that you will eventually find the elusive idea or solution. The subconscious mind will continue to work the issue while the conscious mind focuses elswhere. Marvelous how the human mind does this!


  25. Dear Joe,
    I agree with your metaphore.(I write a lot in my work not script but kind of !). And it is time for you to see the woks of one af the most talented canadian sculptor Hélène Labrie in White Rock !
    Have a nice day

  26. @ivonbartokfans(Chev), JimFromJersey, and DP:

    Thanks for the birthday wishes!

    So far it’s been filled with conference calls, package deliveries, and a run to the FedEx office, but tonight should be much better!

    @for the love of Beckett:

    My kids do tend to spar a lot…must be the Gaelic ancestry (Irish from me and Scottish from their mother). In the heat of the moment, my son has more difficulty in stopping short of “the line” than my daughter. That’s where the thwack was useful. It didn’t really hurt him, but it brought him enough out of the “heat of battle” to avoid having to discipline him further. Being a wordless form of discipline, it also kept me from being drawn into the middle of their verbal battles.

    Keep us posted on your back pain and I’ll keep praying for you. That kind of pain can be very debilitating, so it’s a serious thing.

    And thanks for the birthday wishes!

    On “crashing the party”, I don’t know if I’ll post anything…we’re just going to Sushi Station, but maybe I will anyway. Not a lot of my family down south has been to a Kaiten Zushi place, so it might be fun for them.

    @Tam Dixon:

    Thanks for the birthday wishes!

    That pizza looks interesting; let us know how it turns out. I’ve never blended my cheese with the “sauce” before, so I’m curious about what that will come out like.

    I’ll be having real Napolese pizza on Tuesday night (my friends in Naples always take me to one of their favorite pizzerias in the city), so I may post my own pizza pictures next weekend (depending on internet access).

    This one is still my favorite:

  27. @JeffW: Oh my..your napal pizza looks so good. My arugula ricotta pizza turned out great! I used Giada’s pizza dough recipe and it was a winner. I made three different pizzas and the crust was the star.
    Loveless has a cookbook for sale now:

  28. Happy Birthday @JeffW, hope you have a wonderful one~~ 😎
    Joe, you are the consumate artist, you have a tremendous ability to make the words be magical on the page and tell a story that captures the interest of so many, and I envy that, me I am just a reader of the magic, so continue to make it happen, and thanks..looking forward to watching new shows with your name in the credits…

  29. Don’t you just love those moments? Whether it be writing or solving some other problem of life, if you put it aside instead of obsessing about it, a solution is revealed to you in some way (sometimes a quiet knock and sometimes a hard shovel on your head).

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