And The Audience Responds!

Kage Baker, though she was terminally shy, loved her audience. She really did. She wrote for nearly 30 years with an incredibly tiny one – often just me – but she was aware she needed it. As much as writing satisfied her just on its own, in a virtue-is-its-own-reward sort of way, she needed to share it with another set of eyes and see if it worked.

Kage though that virtue-reward thing was largely crap, anyway …

Until the great Gardner Dozois published Kage’s first short story, “Noble Mold”, her largest audience to date had been a dozen school girls. Her friends in high school all wrote, and they passed around their (really scary bad) manuscripts among themselves. They were mostly Mary Sue works, of course – it’s not weird when you’re  15; only when you’ve passed 30. Even Kage started out writing Mary Sues, but she didn’t stay there. It wasn’t long before one of her writing buddies observed that no one else was writing anymore; they were just reading Kage’s stories. And a splendid time was had by all.

For years after that, I was the only audience, and a happy one I was, too. Kage wrote every single day. Vast treasure! Cubic tons of paper! A rainbow of inks! Entire universes scrolled out from her pen; there are more worlds, Horatio, packed into my storage unit than are dreamed of in your philosophies …

Kage would always hand me the latest day’s adventure’s (on the off chance I didn’t merely grab them off her desk and run off cackling) and say, “Feed my ego.” It didn’t mean she only wanted praise; it meant she really wanted a reaction, even if it was a monochromatic Wow! or Blechhh! She wanted to know how – and if – the progress of the story hung together, moved the reader, invited speculation. My attempts to oblige (and occasionally my refusal, too) led to all sorts of fructifying dialogues. Also to much pizza, ice cream, burgers and miles driving in search of the right electromagnetic corner of the California coast. Kage was very dependent on ambiance.

Yestreday I asked my Dear Readers to check my efforts at a story, and tell me if they were any good or not. And if they were sufficiently Kage-like or not. Many of you answered, all full of the most invigorating enthusiasm – even a couple who wrote and told me, “I never let anyone see my work in progress, but if it works for you – go for it!” Now, that is encouragement; urging me to follow my own path. Remarks have been coming in all morning – and though I did not use Kage’s old code-phrase to me, you have all been sending nice bites to my ego regardless.

Which was really, really sweet of you. No one had to do that, and everyone did. You are such nice Dear Readers!

There have been many very intelligent and useful critiques, too. This is the stage when one wants to do the face-plant of despair about leaving off some character’s limb; not when the book has come out and a gleeful fan wants you to put your signature over the error. The general consensus is that “Marswife” is worth pursuing. And so I will. Linn-the-agent even concurs.

I’m well-supplied with pluots and coffee and Welsh cheese. Back to Mars!

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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3 Responses to And The Audience Responds!

  1. widdershins says:

    Oops … looks like I missed yesterday’s boat, but if it’s got another sailing today, count me in. Otherwise I shall wait with bated breath for the published version.


    • MaggiRos says:

      Me too! I was working on something of my own, though, which probably would have kept me from being any use to you. You know, though, what a sucker I am for writing in public. I’m glad to know you opted to give it a try… and that it worked so well!

      Next time, though, I’m your girl.


  2. Tom says:

    Mars Needs (female protagonist) Wimmin!!


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