#SamWIP: Not Exactly An Ending I Cherish

Sam av

Normally I would give you guys a video update of my progress, but this week finds me with a heavy heart and a defeated spirit.

I have the best boss on the planet. A guy who is so inspiring and awesome that I actually based a character off of him (upcoming story…one I’ve hardly mentioned). He’s the kind of guy that makes you want to be better. Even when there are situations I think I understand, the kind I jump to immediate conclusions on and am certain I’m right, he somehow manages to find another perspective I hadn’t considered before. He’s the guy I argue with, for fun, with great respect. An opposing opinion I respect and consider.

Of all of the men in my life, I’m not ashamed to admit that he has earned his place in my life as #2, second only to my husband, who has taken the responsibility of keeping my soul intact. My boss made me strive to be better, and in his shadow, I became so much more than I was. More professional. More compassionate. More focused. More perceptive. Stronger, as a person and as an employee, as a leader.

We celebrated Boss’s Day on Monday, October 17. Wednesday, October 19 was his 8 year employment anniversary.

Wednesday, October 19, they eliminated his position.

I’ve put away more alcohol in the past week than I have purchased in the past year. I haven’t slept that well. I’ve had the hardest time just containing my tears. I’m not an emotional person, really. In fact, I both pride and curse myself for my pronounced lack of emotion. I don’t really do the whole ‘Feelings Thing.’

But every day I’ve worked since I started working in this place, he shows up around 7:20 to ask how the day is looking. I know the way his shoes sound in the hallway and the exact sound of the jingle of his keys. I knew when he was having a shit day even if no one else did. He had my back and I had his. Both of us had a feeling that his day was coming. We talked about it often. And both of us were working on contingencies if the day ever came. On good days, we’d kind of joke about it. He knew I could handle his tasks if it came to it. On bad days, we quietly discussed how to cover our butts in case someone threw him under the bus. I have oodles of data to prove how much money we’d saved the company, how much value we added. I’d point out ways someone might be trying to throw spin on a situation to paint him in a bad light so we could avoid falling into the corporate-laid traps. I’d suggest ways he could really stand out amongst his peers to impress anyone who might be looking.

Mind you, he was already an outstanding role model. Everyone who has ever had the privilege to know him would have taken a bullet for the guy.

But we knew it was coming, and we did everything we could to prepare.

And all of it was worthless in the end.

So I’m a wreck. I’m even crying as I write this. 5 days a week, I had a leader, a friend, a father figure, a therapist, a partner. He made waking up worth it, even when things were tough. And things have been looking pretty grim for a long time. Blood donation is way, way down. Expenses are, as always, going up as time goes on. All know that to keep one’s job, one must save their employer time and money. Be cheaper to keep than to lose.

We did that. We still lost.

And now I have to go in alone. I have to go around behind and erase his phone number from lists. Add his keys back to the database. Part out his office like a carcass. Go through unfinished projects we started together and divvy up paperwork to whomever is responsible for it now. Remove his name from email lists. Try to keep my voice steady while I make phone calls on his behalf. Talk to my new boss about sallying forth into the future while my heart bleeds on the table between us (he understands…decent fellow).


I was prepared to handle any situation except this one.

Everything about this is wrong.

What happens next is inconsequential. As with all things, the world continues on its axis. It doesn’t squeal to a stop for any one person, no matter how agonized they are. I have to grieve in the in-between times, even as we have to scramble to make the team as efficient, if not more (because that’s expected of us now) in missing man formation. I am expected to face the people who made the decision to remove the most important man of our seamless team, and do it with a smile on my face as if I’m not shattered inside. I can’t let them see pain or weakness. We act like it’s a blip in a script and not a film at its ragged end.

So I haven’t done a lot of writing, though I suppose this counts. There has been more feeling in all of the words I have written this past week than in any fiction I’ve written in months. I am bleeding all over this page, and if you’re reading this and you’re human, there are cracks in your heart, too. That’s okay, though. What you’re feeling is in memory of a human that deserves your acknowledgment.

It’s people like this guy that make the world somewhat tolerable. When you want to give yourself over to despair and cynicism, he makes it impossible to feel alone. Because “we’ll get through it. Somehow, we always do.”

I had just clawed my way out of a hell of anxiety. It seems like 2016 is a year of struggles. A lot of snatched-away hope. A lot of toxic interference. Not a lot of growing, just a whole lot of fighting to survive. It’s a damned shame, too. There was so much we could have done, if we’d been given half a chance to try.

To try to end this on a good note, there is a silver lining. I can hang out with my boss outside of work now. He plays D&D and writes (kind of), and we enjoy the same kind of beer. I’m hoping there’s still some bitching about politics in our future.

And I am optimistic – insofar as I can be, given the circumstances – about the different dynamic my new boss and I are creating.

Focus is pretty hard to come by. I did try to write a bit this week, but I’m in this weird in-between…can’t work on my current WIP because it’s too close to NaNo to think deeply on an existing project. But it’s not NaNo yet, so I can’t get started. We did another week of prep, talking about where we are in planning and what story elements are still lacking (potential pitfalls). All that’s left is a session of tips and tricks for how to get to 50K in November.

No promises for blog posts for the rest of the week. I’m really struggling here…trying to be strong gets to be damned near impossible after a while. I am weary of the constant tear-downs of this world. It gets harder and harder to see something positive. But even if I weren’t emotionally raw, I’ve been tasked with the enormous responsibility of being the captain of the transition train. I have to keep my team together, keep the work running smoothly without upsetting customers, evolve a new working relationship with new boss (sister calls him ‘Step-boss…’ so accurate. I’m even going to start celebrating two Boss’s Days), and pick up all of the shattered pieces of all of our hearts. Somehow.

It’s like trying to jam a puzzle piece where it doesn’t belong and insisting it does. I’m going to act like I believe it, but we all know it’s a lie.

S.K. Balk lives in the frozen wasteland of Northern Michigan. She is the author of the dystopian medical sci-fi THE BLOOD OF NERYS (also available in print).

Check out the #SamWIP category to see what I’m working on!


About oneofthedragons

Samantha K. Balk and F. R. Donaldson met on An Archive of Our Own, one of the many fanfiction sites online, when Sam asked Frankie to illustrate the fanfiction that would one day lead to Sam's first novel. They've been friends ever since! This blog was created as a way to share the oftentimes difficult journey any new author experiences on the uncomfortable quest of an introvert for attention to his or her most personal work. It is meant to remind you that authors don't just appear fully fledged like a George R. R. Martin, that all of us start out unsure and feeling inadequate. Feel free to ask us anything. Sam: sammykaye9@gmail.com Frankie: reluctant.fraggle@gmail.com

Posted on October 25, 2016, in #SamWIP and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: