Kage Baker would say, Slow down. She would tell me, Take is easy for a while. She would observe, If you’ve got so much extra energy, do something useful. She would admonish me to be patient, not to spend my new strength all in one place.
Of course, I never did listen, so it’s not too surprising that I haven’t been remembering her good advice recently. It certainly wouldn’t surprise her. She always felt slightly annoyed about it, and maintained that no one listened to her anyway.
That wasn’t true, of course. By the end of her life, thousands of people had listened to her and were clamouring for more. I cannot tell you, Dear Readers, how happy that made her. Kage had a soft voice, a diffident manner, a bad case of the shyness, and came from – and then went into – enormous families: she was accustomed to being outshouted. But no one can outshout the written word. She exulted in that.
But she still got overlooked in public conversations. It really narked her, too. At first, at science fiction conventions, she was overshadowed on panels – by the loud, the obnoxious, the self-involved; sometimes by the truly famous – though not those last as much, because the real pros tend to be gracious. And tired. They’re glad to share the spotlight … but the people who have self-published a cartoon guide to Ewok footprints, or a parody of Harry Potter: they plough right over a quiet person like Kage.
She learned, though. Some of it was body English – an incredulous stare, a raised eyebrow, a roll of her black eyes could pull the audience back to her end of the table. And when she had the microphone, she was a ruthless moderator. When someone strayed too far off the topic – especially into self-aggrandisement, the usual detour – she would announce, “Annnd, that’s enough of that, as Sister Julian used to say – back to the subject at hand.”
Once an over-enthusiastic fellow panelist on a talk about the rigours of research abruptly announced that the topic was boring – they would now highjack the panel and talk about Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Kage leaned over the microphone and said clearly, “Or not“, quelled the rebellion with a long stare, and promptly returned the panel to the necessity of not using historical romances as primary documentation. The audiance applauded.
It was relatively easy to talk over her in a social setting. But with the staff of Authority – or a mike – in her hand, Kage was an implacable Athena Ergane.
Since I got ambulatory once more, I tend to run about and exhaust myself; then I get glassy-eyed and sleep for 4 hours. Most of last week, I was awake all night and asleep most of the day, alternately running around madly and falling over in a coma. It’s been like that since I began to feel better. It must be like living with a large hamster.
Basically, I have somewhat over-reached myself lately. I need to listen to Kage more in my head – because for once she isn’t saying “Write, you slacker!” – she’s telling me to recover before I start racing off in all directions. And it’s not fair to Kimberly, who has nursed me so far, to be so careless of my returning vigour: it’s not that Kimberly is neglecting to rein me in, but the poor girl has a husband and a son and a job to see to. When she’s off doing something important, I get loose and do too much. And the wrong things. At the wrong time.
Which leads then leads to my running out of energy before I thought I would, and thus to my neglecting the things I really wanted to do; and could, in fact, have accomplished if I hadn’t decided that just because I can drive a little means I can run off and go shopping for garden statuary. Hence my erratic attendance to this blog. I keep waking up and discovering I’ve been asleep for half the day.
So I’m gonna listen more to Kage. I shall endeavour to cut back on the off-road adventuring for a while, and concentrate on doing my sit-down chores like a sensible person. You need lots of energy to be an idiot, I am finding. I will take Kage’s advice and use what I have to make something besides tracks in a circle.