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MULA, Part Two

March 3, 2010

Notable News from a Year Ago, February March 3, 2009: I’m preparing to take my MULA (mandatory unpaid leave of absence).

Anyone familiar with the English language will see the paradoxical nature, mostly phonetic, of calling a week where you don’t earn any money MULA, so I won’t even go there.  I will, however, as I write this preparing for the MULA that my company mandated last week, and that I have scheduled to take next week, say that it is what it is and I have to make adjustments to make it work.  If your goal is to survive, I’ve learned, if you want to make it, that’s all you can do.

I don’t expect it to affect me much.  The money I will be forfeiting was earmarked mostly for trading and investing activities.  This week, in fact, the Dow closed below 7000, the first time I believe since 1997 if my sources are correct.  If one had the money and was so inclined to take the risk, now might be an exceedingly favorable opportunity to buy.  As for the money I’m losing I guess I’ll have to find another way to recoup it.  Overall, however, I doubt for various budgeting reasons that I’ll miss it.

As for the job, I’m working on various things so that when I return I won’t find my nuts in a vice.  We have a new product line starting April 1st in Suzhou, China that I’m working on.  Interesting, but not surprising, that the “business” would mandate me and my counterparts to take a week of unpaid leave yet kept the same start date in China.  It’s another example to me of unrealistic and downright foolish business expectations, but what can I say?  I’m just a peon here.  What do I know about business efficiency?

Also, it’s interesting to note that China could’ve been on my travel itinerary for the end of this month too if I hadn’t switched with another employee.  My argument to him (well, not really an argument as much as my opinion) was that when the product configuration and order entry processes are automated later this year, all of which I’m driving, then my presence in China would be necessitated.  He agreed because the argument was “logical,” as he called it, and it was to some degree.  But the truth is I didn’t want to go to China this month in any capacity.  I’ve got a week of free time coming up.  I didn’t want to mess up the momentum I am building for my drive to have a novel completed for the NY Pitch Conference by traveling to Asia Pacific.

And as for the writing, I’ve completely scrapped the underlying driver behind The Doppel Effect.  It was a brutally unproductive Saturday and Sunday.  I couldn’t get the pieces to fit in my head.  I banged said head against the wall, which was also inside of my head.  If you’re confused by the analogy then now you now how I felt this weekend.  It just wasn’t working the way I had it laid out.  Great concepts for sure, but the lines of thought holding it all together didn’t mesh properly, was more complicated than I wanted and needed it to be.  I wasn’t writing the novel anymore; I was pushing it out, and straining mightily.  I wasn’t getting anywhere.  And if I wanted to have a more fleshed out plot and story before my MULA week, then I was going to have to go in a different direction.

So I did.  I chopped up The Doppel Effect and threw it away.  Now the book is called The Twin Paradox[And is still called this even though it’s currently sitting on the shelf, waiting its turn.] Some of the underlying themes are the same, and some of the initial scenes are transferable, but the why and the how — at least the way I’m looking at it now — is so much less convoluted.

I get the impression, in fact, that this idea is more natural than the contrived thing I was coming up with before.  I can see the simplicity difference even in the titles, which convey the same message but with the second — with The Twin Paradox — it’s easier to grasp.  It was difficult walking away from the idea that I had devoted so much time to, walking away from the inciting action that even brought the story to my mind to begin with, but what I can say about the writing process is that sometimes this is the way it has to be.  Sometimes, the spark is only a spark, and not a story, and you have to throw it away.  And this was one of those times.  I knew, even after 20K words, that something was wrong and was wise enough to scrap the whole thing before I invested another 20K or more words into the project.  There’s still plenty of work to do on The Twin Paradox, of course, but the beginning, middle, and end are clearer to me, and the connections easier.  Next week, on MULA, I start to write. And since my word goal next week might stretch into the 30K range, there’s a good possibility that next week I won’t have an entry [which, incidentally, I won’t, more on that later], but I have to wait to see what the future brings.

Don’t we all?


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