Nothing Works All The Time

Kage Baker was of an indomitable character. When she had an idea, nothing stopped her. She would plan, nag, scheme and plot for as long as it took to get what she wanted accomplished. Years, sometimes.

She never forgot. She never gave up. She never compromised. Neither did she bully or throw tantrums, though, and so most other people did not  notice that she always got her own way: but she usually did. And when she could not, she quietly withdrew from the competition; if Kage couldn’t get what she really wanted, she honestly did prefer nothing. It was just very, very hard to convince her that there was no way to get what she wanted …

Despite this adamantine determination making her friends and family often insane (I have driven miles in pursuit of extinct foodstuffs and out-of-print books), this was also the power source for her prolific writing. She always started a new idea because that was just what one did – one devised plots. Then she wrote and wrote and wrote until it was done. And then she started the next.

But even she sometimes hit a wall. Her determination never failed  – hell, she was dictating plot details to me the day she died – but her strength sometimes did. Sometimes, too, circumstances would prevent her from accomplishing what she meant to do. She would wait, recoup her energies, wait for the waves to recede – and leap for that rope hanging from the stern. Then it was out swords, boots first through the stern windows in the Great Cabin, and on with the attack!

I was usually mooring the long boat.

I’ve been the Support Staff all this while, and it’s hard to gear up to a Kage-worthy level obstinancy. Today has been especially difficult. I made a long trip across town to see the haberdasher on Melrose but he was closed due to a water main breaking: his steam machine wouldn’t work. (What, doesn’t everyone have a regular haberdasher?) Three freight trucks in the last twelve hours have crashed at the same place on the Pomona Freeway, converting part of the eastern freeway system into a Circle of Hell. All the pets have the vapours and megrims, and I suspect the hairballs the elder cat is coughing up may be the younger cat. Though it’s probably a sock. There was an inexplicable bowl of mashed potatoes in the middle of the kitchen floor, and I stepped in it.

And while I wish this litany of woes were a comic invention – more of Kage’s famous wry wit, perhaps! – the sad fact is, they are all factual.

Consequently, this sad report has taken two hours and is all I have written today. But I owe the Fates and Kage’s Muse 3,000 words in two other places. So I must go drag that Muse of hers out of whatever metaphorical bar he is encamped in, pour us both some good strong coffee, and do what Kage would do. Write. Write like my life depends on it, write because it’s what I’ve decided to do and nothing else will suffice, write like nothing else matters.

Because nothing else does matter. Except the work.

About Kate

I am Kage Baker's sister. Kage was/is a well-known science fiction writer, who died on January 31, 2010. She told me to keep her work going - I'm doing that. This blog will document the process.
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7 Responses to Nothing Works All The Time

  1. Valerie says:

    Kathleen, you have your own obstinacy, as demonstrated by your turning out a beautiful, moving, or funny short essay every day for months. I’m quite convinced that you will also create wonderful fiction…

  2. Mark says:

    “There was an inexplicable bowl of mashed potatoes in the middle of the kitchen floor, and I stepped in it.”

    Why does that strike me as a *brilliant* opening line to a novel or at least story? Perverse I guess…

    • Valerie says:

      Yes, kind of like the opening line of “War in Heaven”! Only different.

    • Kate says:

      Actually, Mark, I quite like that. I must consider it. It doesn’t *have* to have a Machiavellian corgi in it, though that was the approximate cause this morning.

      • Mark says:

        Are you sure it’s a Machiavellian and not a Manichaean corgi?

        In my limited experience with corgis, none seemed obsessed with political power relationships, but all seemed to be confused on the concept of good and evil as related to personal responsibility.

      • Kate says:

        Oh, Mark, that is brilliant! Yes, he is definitely Manichean and not Machiavellian! Although he is quite concerned with status, he seems aware of his own (low) and not inclined to try and scheme or rebel. He is not the alpha dog. But his ethics are decidedly situational, at least about food and couch cushions.

  3. Kara says:

    I think Nicholas said somewhere around the end of recorded time that love is what really matters.

    The love for your sister that shines through in your updates is both heartwarming and heartbreaking.

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