I agree 100%. I’d been reading for TNG almost a year when Piller asked if I had a story I wanted to submit. When I said I did, but I’d need time off to write the script, he smiled. “Just pitch me your story.” My pitch in very condensed form: I told him about a disabled woman who wants to join Starfleet. And though she passed the written exam with a higher score than Kirk, she couldn’t pass the physical tests. Piller wanted to know what happened to her. I told him that she considers artificial implants and travels to a planet where they do them, but decides her humanity is worth more than her desire to join Starfleet. At that moment Orions raid the planet for alloys. The Enterprise arrives to protect the planet. In the end, our disabled heroine helps Picard save the day through seeing an emotional pattern that Data couldn’t detect in the Orion attack, an ability she would’ve lost with implants in her body. Piller said it sounded okay, but he wanted to know what the point of the story was. I told him it was about how being different is not a weakness but a strength. Diversity makes us stronger, I said. He informed me I was no longer a reader but a writer on TNG. Someone hooked me up with an agent. I signed a step deal to write a script for the show. The first step was a one-page treatment, where I fleshed out my pitch. I was informed my deal could end at any step, and I only got paid for the steps I finished. My treatment was soundly rejected. I was told if I rewrote it with some notes, it would be reconsidered. I learned this was common. I wrote three drafts of the treatment before I got a deal to expand it into an outline. Writing the outline was brutal. I remember when I showed Piller my first draft of the outline, he smiled, told me not to panic, and then threw it in the trash. “You’re trying too hard.” He told me to go home, pretend I was sitting around a campfire, and simply tell my story like I was talking to friends. “Then turn what you said into an outline.” It took me two more outline drafts before I got paid for the next step: writing a teleplay. To make a long story short, I eventually got the teleplay in good enough shape to reach Roddenberry. I heard back that Gene rejected it out of hand because “there are no disabled people in the 24th century.” I was crushed. But told not to worry; something like this happened all the time, that Gene was actually “starting to believe his idealistic bullshit.” And even though Piller went to bat for my script, obviously it never got made. But Piller gave me a chance. First as a story analyst and then as a writer. If not for Michael Piller, it’s doubtful I would have gone on to be a successful story doctor. And I know he did the same thing for a bunch of other folks. I truly believe ST—and this world as a whole—ended up better off with Michael Piller than it would have been without him.