Anyone graduating from medical school in 1966 had first to fulfill military service before launching a career. Fiercely opposed to the Vietnam War, I sought to avoid it through an assignment to the Public Health Service.
For 25 or 30 years I never had an assignment. These were all stories I wanted to do myself. So they were always about somebody I like, 'cause if I didn't like him, I just didn't do the story. And to have somebody else paying the bills for this tourism, to every corner of every stage, over and over again? Why, who wouldn't want a job like that?
Honestly, I think the key () has been, treat every assignment as if it’s your first one, you know? I think there is a misconception, especially that students have and I really make a point when I speak at schools to talk about the fact that you never really arrive. You are always working towards something but you never stop. I think there is this crazy idea that you get somewhere and then everything is cool.
A lot of screenwriters have a drawer of unsold scripts that they cut their teeth on. I don't have one. Everything I've written, after my first spec, I wrote on assignment. Everything I've written was work.
Writing about real stuff that really concerned me brought out my craft. If you're writing a story about, 'Is Lois Lane gonna figure out that Superman is Clark Kent?' - it's really hard to get involved in that on anything other than a craft level. And I'm not gonna put down craftsmanship; it is a noble enough thing to have made a table that you can pound on and it doesn't fall down. But occasionally, we might have an assignment that engages some other parts of ourselves, and those tend to be the good stories.