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