Thursday, April 28, 2011

The Plot Thickens...Or Does It?

If you would, dear readers, please indulge me while I think out loud on the keyboard for a moment.  I'm just wondering if anyone would find this a good plot for a story...


The lead character is a working wife and mother in a busy, high-stress job.  She's making good money.  She's been handed some plum assignments. She's having a pretty good time. The future looks bright.

Then the Great Recession hits. The company she works for begins a slow, agonizing crash and burn, and she rides the wreckage all the way down.  Most of her co-workers end up buried in the rubble, victims of mass layoffs.  She hangs on to her job, barely.  At the last moment, a competitor saves the company by buying it out - yay! - but shuts down the branch she works in - crap!

Through sheer determination, she and her few remaining colleagues stay together and launch a startup company of their own.  They operate in a sublet space with a crazy landlady and hand-me-down furnishings bought from their former company.  Against all odds, and due to an unlikely combination of fanatically devoted conservative leadership and Obama administration-subsidized health insurance premiums, they stay afloat.

Eventually, however, the challenges and frustrations and uncertainties of midwifing a new business take their toll. She is three-quarters down the road to a nervous breakdown and advancing, when an opportunity to join another company comes along.  With a mixture of relief and remorse, she takes it.

At first glance the new job consists of endless layers of awesome.  The company specializes in green technology (coolness factor), is working under a government grant (guaranteed funding), she will be essentially her own boss (opportunity), and the pay and benefits look good (solvency).  To top it all off, while the new office she'll be occupying is being readied, she gets to work from home for several weeks.  Sweet!

Still, there are a few nagging worries about this idyllic situation.  The fact that there is no product to sell, and the timeline for having product keeps getting stretched out, is one of them.  Also, her counterparts in other offices complain constantly about their heavy workload, but she has nothing to do.  Not little to do, but virtually nothing. That will change, her superiors assure her.  But as the months go on, it doesn't.  When the office fax line goes down, nobody notices for three weeks.  When she arrives late and leaves early, nobody cares.  The company CEO is surprised to discover the company has an office in her location.

Our protagonist happens to be an aspiring writer, and she's indifferently maintained a blog for some time.  Now, faced with eight hours of light duty each workday, and only willing to spend half of it playing online Scrabble, she begins to post regularly.  Sometimes she writes about her family, sometimes about current events or random flights of fancy.  She reports on the bizarre antics of Charlie Sheen and becomes fascinated by the story of the Bronx Zoo Snake.  And occasionally, discreetly, she writes about her job.

Her readership is miniscule, but it starts to grow.  Some of her workplace humor draws positive responses.  Then a piece about a local politician nets a big spike in readership.  Friends and family members encourage her to take her writing more seriously.  She wonders if a larger audience would have any interest in the rantings of an ordinary person who finds herself in a strange place in life.

Meanwhile, her job gets weirder.  Six months go by, and she still spends more time on her daily commute than on work-related activity.  Everyone in the company seems to know, and no one is concerned.  When she does try to accomplish something, the results are...unusual.  She refers customer complaints to the customer service center, which resolves them by asking her what she intends to do to resolve them.  She requests a job description for a new hire from a Human Resources person and is told to send him a description of the job so he can write one.  An engineer responds to a report of broken product by proving scientifically that the unit couldn't be broken.

Sometimes she thinks about the time when she worked ten-hour days and dealt constantly with the problems of a busy staff and a stable of demanding clients.  Part of her envies the career she used to have; part of her thinks she's in a spot that many would envy.  One thing is certain:  It can't last forever.  Which is good, because it's making her a little nuts. 

She starts to wonder if she could turn her experiences into a book.  Maybe recount the ups and downs of the last couple of years, with anecdotes that have to be true because they're too implausible to be fiction.  Maybe include some of her blog posts that reflect her state of mind and the state of the world around her.  Maybe try to get it published so that more than a handful of people could read her writing.

Or maybe, she thinks, she should go out and find a real job with a productive workload and a real future.  There would be much less time and energy to devote to her blog, much less a whole book.  But she could return to a "normal" life.  If that's what she wants.


...Or is it just too ridiculously far-fetched to work?


  1. Read Evil Plans by Hugh Macleod

  2. I'd rather it be podcast so I don't have to read. This is the 21st century after all.

  3. But I like the look of my words a lot better than I like the sound of my voice.

  4. I think you need to write the book. Of course, I've been waiting for your book to be written for the past 25 years, so I'm a little impatient...

    Bestest Friend

  5. This is an opportunity. Work on getting a job WRITING! In the meantime, start pulling together the book.


You're thinking it, you may as well type it. The only comments you'll regret are the ones you don't leave. Also, replies to threads make puppies grow big and strong.