All That Matters Is The Work

Kage Baker was not a depressed person. She was as subject to sorrow and annoyance as anyone, but there was always a good and sensible reason for it. Sometimes being depressed is a logical thing to be, because life can get awfully hard.

That sounds, now that I have written it down, like sense of the variety so common it is absurd to actually say it out loud. Of course life can be painful! Of course you can get depressed for good reasons! But after yestreday’s diatribe about Kage’s grammar school days, Dear Readers, I found myself wondering why I had gone off on such a gloomy tangent. Some of it was exploring the source code for Kage’s life as a writer, but gosh! I sure got out the special “Shades of Black” paintbox for that watercolour.

Well, I was depressed. Unlike Kage, I do get spontaneously, senselessly depressed; my body has an eccentric and unreliable approach to the uses of seratonin, which plays merry hell with my moods on occasion. And sometimes even people with clinical depression and a nice prescription find they also have a damned good reason to be depressed on top of it. It’s all very confusing. And hard to manage. And, well – depressing.

Kage’s prescription for dealing with my blacker moods (and few people in the world had to deal with them as much as she did) was to write. Her doing the writing, I mean, not me. She knew that the mere act of writing was always a panacea for her, and she felt it ought to work for me as well. This may have been the original source for the brainstorming sessions, and the long drives in search of ideas – Kage would get me in some situation where I was a part of her writing, and force me to use all my dark energies on The Plot.

“What happens next?” she would say.

“I don’t know! It’s your idea!” I would reply.

“Yeah, but speculate. Give me something to work with. Come on. Come on come on come on,” with the inexorable single-mindedness of a toddler in a toy store, until I flipped out and gave in.

“Oh, screw you!” I would scream with my customary wit. But then – “Hey, RNA is a protein. What if someone had an allergy to RNA?”*

Mind you, my ideas were rarely what Kage needed – but they did give her ideas, or maybe anti-ideas: ideas she could use to push off of, in the search for the right idea. And by the time the session was over, I was no longer depressed, either. Tired, oD’ed on coffee and fried pies (Hostess Lemon, by preference), and often lost, but not depressed.

So yestreday, being inexplicably depressed, I wasted most of the day and then drifted back to this computer. Where, by habit, I began to write … and though the topic was without much cheer, I felt better at the end. So Kage’s secret recipe still works, just as much as her secret recipes for killer lemonade and boiled puddings.

And at the very end of the day, I got some news: Subterranean Press will be bringing out a Best of Kage Baker volume this year: I just got the contract, and it looks like a splendid collection.

And the sequel to Nell Gwynne has been pronounced GOOD. I am waiting for the first edit now. This project, it appears, is a go.

I’m a lot more cheerful today. Thanks, kiddo.

*Facts Relating To The Arrest of Dr. Kalugin

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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14 Responses to All That Matters Is The Work

  1. Neassa says:

    Oh, Huzzah! Wonderful news about The Best of. But spectacular news about the new Nell Gwynne! Now, I knew your collaboration was good – but it’s even better to hear that from people who will get it into print.

  2. Kate says:

    Thank you, Neassa. You and Kimberly are the only ones who have read it so far, and you’ve both been kind about it. So nice to know it suits!

  3. widdershins says:

    Congratulations … to both of you.

  4. Tom says:

    This is excellent news, and thank you for sharing it – NOT that I’m surprised, though.

    As for that damned Black Dog with its teeth in our ankles . . . yeah.

  5. Kate says:

    I’m a little surprised. And a lot relieved. And excited. This may work!

  6. Tom says:

    “I’m a little surprised.”

    Oh, pshaw and fazz-tazz! Trust me, bubbelah. I don’t know much, but I know talent when I see it.

    However, it might be best not to run out and lease a new Audi just yet.

  7. Kate says:

    Oh no, Tom – my heart belongs to my pirate-customized PT Cruiser. It has chrome! Baby moon hubcaps! A skull and crossbones hanging from the rear view mirror, and a zombie pirate bobble head in the back window! I gonna drive this for the rest of my life. I plan on replacing the engine with fuel cells as soon as they become even slightly practical – keep the nifty chassis and use a greener engine. No nasty Audis for me!

  8. Elizabeth Machado says:

    Actually, I didn’t find either post particularly depressing… I found myself wishing I had gone to school with you both. The high school years sounded like quite a bit of fun!

    • Kate says:

      Elizabeth – they were, they were tremendous fun. I think we were probably a bit alarming to know – God knows, we upset most of the teachers – but we certainly had fun. We learned a lot, too, though most of the really good stuff was not on the curriculum. Kage and I were both part of what was sort of the anti-clique: no respectable group would have had us, but we simply didn’t care. For the first time in our lives, we formed our own group, and we were a sort of floating arts riot … my Honors class, and Kage’s Revolutionary Valkyries a year ahead of us. Was a blast, man.

  9. Chris says:

    Floating arts riot, now that’s a moniker to aspire to.

  10. Kate says:

    Chris – you know, it might be a gig that would work at Dickens … Mrs. Wittiterly and all.
    Hmmm.

  11. Medrith says:

    Best of Kage Baker! Nell Gwynne Sequel! (Jumps around like Daffy Duck going ” Woohoo woohoo!!!”)

  12. athene says:

    Of course the Nell Gwynne sequel is good… I am so *proud* of you–both of you, really, but at this moment, you in particular. It is no small thing to pick up where one voice leaves off. Brava, bravissima! And I care not one whit that you don’t like opera. It is the only language grand enough for the occasion. Semper fi.

  13. Margaret says:

    Late-blooming thanks for the very good news.

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