I’m stuck. I’ve got a grab bag of tricks for getting unstuck. They don’t always work. Here’s one that helps sometimes, and I’m putting it here because I have a tendency to lose this whenever I need it most. It’s the script for “Arctic Radar” the tenth episode of the fourth season of The West Wing, written by Aaron Sorkin. One scene in particular. Here’s the set-up: Communications Director Toby Ziegler (Richard Schiff) is stuck. In the sort of peppy, verbose meet-cute that Sorkin excels at, Toby swaps speech drafts with prospective speechwriter Will Bailey (Joshua Malina). There’s a lot more going on than that (and you can read the whole thing here), but here’s the bit that I’m particularly interested in:
TOBYThis is incredibly good, Will. "Never shrinking from the world's..." "...a fierce belief in what we can achieve together." I used to write like this. It was ten months ago. I don't understand what's going on. I really don't. I've had slumps before. Everybody does, but this is different. I'm sorry, we don't know each other, but there aren't that many people I can talk to about it. I don't understand what's happening. There's no blood going to it. I never had to locate it before. I don't even know where to look. I'm the President's voice and I don't want it to sound like this. And there's an incredible history to second inaugurals. "Fear itself," Lincoln... I really thought I was on my way to being one of those guys. I thought I was close. Now I'm just writing for my life and you can't serve the President that way. But if I didn't write... I can't serve him at all.
WILLYeah. Can I tell you three things? You are more in need of a night in Atlantic City, than any man I've ever met. Number two is, the last thing you need to worry about is no blood going there. You've got blood going there, about thirteen ways. And some of it isn't good. Once again, I say, "Atlantic City." I'd say sit down at a table, go for dinner, see a show, take a walk on the boardwalk and smell the salt air... but if you're anything like me, nothing after "sit down at a table" is going to happen.
TOBYWhat's the third thing?
WILLYou are one of those guys. This is an inning of good relief pitching from a fresh arm.
Starting to realise that I really need a night in Atlantic City...