Even if you see 'em coming, you're not ready for the big moments
Life doesn’t cut you breaks. Life doesn’t give a shit. February 26 was my father’s birthday—the first since his passing. I took the day off to reflect, visited the bench we had planted in his honor, and bought a lunch that would have maybe come close to satisfying his legendary appetite. Then I returned home and put on Harry Potter, my computer on my lap as always. What can I say? I multitask.
Sometime in the afternoon, I received a text message from Cecilia Dominic, asking me if I had seen the email. I hadn’t, and I was perplexed. So I logged into my account, and suddenly the day wasn’t just about remembering Dad anymore.
I have never shared this here—I always wanted to keep a professional distance between what I do creatively and what I do for work. But that distance isn’t needed anymore, so here it goes. In 2012, just a few months after Aaron and I married, I was hired as a content editor by Samhain Publishing.
It was literally the job of my dreams.
The next three years were some of the best. I have had the pleasure of working with some of the most talented authors producing material today, and made really strong friendships with people I might not have connected with otherwise. Working with these authors has been one of the most rewarding things I've done professionally. I love all of them so much. I love their work. I love being a part of that process. I love the process. I love everything about this world.
My writing, though, was a casualty of my career change. No, I didn't completely stop; I did revamp Lost Wages of Sin, Sex, Sin and Scandal, Firsts and Forbidden Fruit. Most of what I've done these past three years is rewrite, though I managed to finish something new in the form of Sins of Yesterday, and another novel over the course of last year that I have yet to publish. But my authors always came first. If I had time to write, after all, I had time to work.
Last year, right after Dad got sick, I made the decision that I would start scaling back at Samhain. There were several reasons for it—having two jobs (I also work for a marketing firm) meant twice the catch-up, and I was so behind when I took off to take care of my father. The scaling back was going to be a slow process, I knew, as I was determined to wrap up the things I had already committed to, but I knew there would come a day when I wouldn’t be so loaded down and could refocus. I could not stress about work when caring for Dad, and in the free moments I had, I could apply myself to the things I enjoyed for me.
Then Dad got really sick—sicker than before. The day after New Year’s, he was gone, and I entered that horrific hell of numbness reserved for those who have lost someone suddenly. And it was sudden. He was very sick, yes, and I had resigned myself to the likelihood that he wasn’t going to get better, but no one was prepared for him to walk into the hospital on New Year’s Eve for a checkup and never come out again. We all thought he had months at least.
He didn’t. He had hours.
January 2016 was the longest month of my life.
I know now, as I came out of the fog, that a part of me had decided to leave. It took a couple weeks before I cognitively made the decision. My career as an editor felt over to me, but I was determined to hang on because I genuinely love the work and the people. Still, even after I decided to leave—quietly, and with no exit plan firmly in place—I knew I still wanted to edit, just on a lighter schedule, and with the option to say “no” if I was booked with work or deep in my own writing project. So I set up my editing website, Evil Eye Editing, with the intent to launch publicly after I was officially gone.
On February 26, my father’s birthday, I received word that the publisher was closing, I had been let go, and everything tumbled from there.
There are a thousand and one other people out there who have felt the closing much, much harder than I have, though arguably no one more than my former colleague, Mackenzie Walton, who lost her mother two days after the announcement (and on her birthday—god, I hurt so much for her). Still, even though I was prepared to make this my last year at the company, I didn’t think it’d be this soon…nor did I ever imagine it’d happen like this. And in the already altered state of my warped reality, everything has felt like a really bad Twilight Zone episode. I don’t think that has really set in yet, much like my new normal without my dad. It was so much all at the same time. I know the other editors, staff, and authors are likewise still feeling this sense of unreality, so at least in that, it’s something I can discuss with others.
But those emotions—the sadness and the shock, the periods of grief—are exhausting, and for your own health, it’s necessary to get out of that headspace. That’s what I’ve been trying to do these last three weeks. Decompress, digest, and acclimate to my new reality. It’s an odd sensation from the sidelines—I feel so much for my authors, my coworkers, for everyone involved. I hurt for them, I commiserate, and I mourn the loss of a truly fantastic company. My experience there and the opportunity to do that, to chase the thing I’d always wanted to do, changed me for the better. It was a hell of a ride, and I’m going to miss it. God, how I’m going to miss it. I knew I was going to miss it before, back when my leaving was an eventuality. I’ve realized, though, how much I’m going to miss it now. I’m going to miss every part, but especially working with my authors. They were what made my job fantastic. They were what made me want to stay and say “yes” some more, even though I knew I shouldn’t.
Yeah, I’m going to miss that a lot.
But when I think about that and find myself nearing a dark corner, I remember this: I’ve also missed writing.
This last year has taught me that you can love all the things, but you can’t do all the things, and you certainly can’t do all the things all the time, which is what I’ve been trying to do for far too long. You have to make time for you. I have the genetic makeup of a workaholic, which is good for productivity, but not always for creativity. And if there is something you love, you should do it. We don’t have a lot of time here, so we have to make the most of it.
So that, friends, is my belated 2016 resolution.
Until next time, be good to yourself, and to somebody else.