Kage Baker always felt that you could not have too many fresh beginnings. If there was a chance to mark a new line in the earth, turn a corner, flip to a clean page – she took it. She never really abandoned the old – she never abandoned anything – but she made new starts matters of frequency and ritual.
Her most frequent ritual act was the purchase of a new sketchpad or notebook. Clean white paper, she said, was the ultimate goad. Opening a new electronic “page” on the computer was just not the same – nearly everything she wrote began its life on paper first.
One of the results of this habit was that I packed a couple dozen boxes with sketchpads and notebooks when I closed up our house. Some of them dated back to grammar school. The hoard from high school is enormous, and holds the genesis of most of her published novels. As the strata of her adulthood approach, more and more of the notes are stacks of blank typing paper, stuffed into artists’ portfolios. They aren’t typed on, you understand – they are all hand written, Kage’s pen having been irresistibly drawn to mate with the white, white paper …
Today is November the 1st. It’s also All Saints Day, and lots of good Christian people pray for the souls of their dead; especially the ones whom they feel have made it to heaven, and may be in a good position to lobby. It is also, anciently, the Celtic New Year; lots of good Neopagan people are wishing one another “Happy New Year!” and strewing fresh herbs for the winter. Kage favoured lavender and southernwood.
Kage always celebrated this, of course. We’d pack a basket and a bag, and take a frugal autumnal picnic out somewhere – then we’d bury the remains of the Feast from the night before, and have a quiet meal. Kage would draw or scribble something new in a new notepad; I’d usually start a knitting project or a new book. The ritual acknowledgement of the Borders, you see, where all power and life begins.
Today, I’ll mostly write. (Surprise! It’s what I do these days.) I’ll send these wild musings off into the aether for the kind folks who check them – my way of waving over the back fence, letting the friends and family know I am still here and working. I’ll work on Nell Gwynne, which has lately been a pain and a torment but now seems likely to yield to the final push (Linn -the-agent will be so pleased).
In honour of the New Year, though, I will also work on notes I have compiled over the last 8 months of nights unsleeping . Some are drawn from the stacks and stacks Kage left me, wherein I found - mirablile dictu! – notes for a story older than any of our nieces and nephews, one we wrote together so long ago we still had waists. It may not be as ultimately useful as a sweater or a pair of socks, but then again – it may.
It’s my New Year pledge. It’ll keep me working on eveything else, and remind me that life goes on.
Tomorrow: fantasy and reality in an epic battle! It’s election day! Get out there and vote, kids!