mad in pursuit memoir notebook

DISPATCHED FROM THE intersection of yesterday and forever

Career Disillusionment, Part 4

A Revolutionary's Deal with the Devil

2006 Maddie sketch[continued from here] I'm still researching my screenplay. This generally involves picking a chapter in McKee and letting his words stir the pot of my memory and imagination.

My original premise was "what does it feel like to abandon a career and start over?" Now it's more like "what makes the quintessential corporate woman abandon a career she loved?" That may still change...

I've progressed enough to begin referring to my protagonist as "Maddie" to give myself some slight psychological distance.

Last night I picked up McKee and the book fell open to a section on RISK, something all good stories should have. So, what does Maddie want and what is she willing to risk for it? What is the worst thing that can happen to Maddie if she doesn't get her heart's desire? (McKee warns this better be big and dramatic so bear with me as I aim to make Maddie the outsized Susan.)

All her life Maddie has been a restless, brooding, intellectual malcontent -- the kind of quiet person who incites revolution. The first evidence of this may have been her leading the 8th grade movement to not write the teacher letters over the Christmas holidays because, well, the assignment was stupid. Maybe she could have been a real revolutionary -- a modern-day Bolshevik plastering walls with her manifestos, but she just wasn't crazy enough. Her peak moments of accomplishment always came when she partnered up with someone who could lend boldness and forward motion to some project.

So when Maddie gets a new Boss and he dangles a revolutionary partnership before her eyes, it is like Satan tempting Jesus. "If you will bow down and worship me, I will make you the ruler of all the nations of the earth." Maddie is no Jesus. She says, "It's a deal!!!"

What is she willing to risk? A cozy niche as a respected quality assurance expert for children's services. The appreciation of fellow leaders who, up till now, have seen her as a support, not a threat.

She feels up to the challenge. She doesn't realize yet that this reasonable-sounding risk means no turning back. Failure will not be about an error in process design. It will be about Maddie reneging on her deal to "bow down and worship me" and putting her entire career at risk.

But the other side of the coin is this. Maddie's greatest fear in life is becoming a pod person, a Stepford wife. Maybe it's the curse of the restless introvert -- a fear of slipping noiselessly into a snug little slot and never being heard from again. Invisibility. Insignificance. Ah, the sin of Pride creeps in. Maddie will launch herself at the Cause, she will partner up with the Boss to be bold and glorious. But that "bow down and worship me" crap -- he didn't really mean that, did he?


more on EXIT theme

Follow-up entries on the story:

Maddie Alive (10.24.04)

Pandora - my intent (1.25.07)

Pandora Progress - restarting the project (9.5.06)

Maddie Malone: Strategy Geek. Play becomes a graphic. (11.12.09)

maddie cartoon

Re-opening Pandora's Box - digging out the screenplay (1.25.07)