Kage Baker put her writing before nearly everything else in her life.
Writing was what she did – eating, sleeping, traveling, collecting fancy paper holiday collections and heritage tulips, playing Monkey Island compulsively for days on end … all those things were to pass time that couldn’t be spent writing. Or to recover from too much time spent writing too intensely. Or to generate new ideas of things about which to write in the first place.
With inhuman dedication and the attention span of the Sphinx, she managed to spend about 75% of her time writing. She balanced out days when she did the laundry or cooked dinner or shot electronic pirates, with other days where she wrote for 12, 14, 16 hours at a stretch: literally, until she fell asleep at her desk, and I steered her to her bed like a lifesized rag doll.
I don’t know how she did it, although she always said it was because she had harnessed her OCD tendencies. For all I know, she was right – does anyone really know what a compensated OCD complex looks like? We all have the image of the constant hand washing, the autistic withdrawal to a private world, the helpless counting of spilled sesame seeds that dooms Greek vampires – what happens when a slightly more normal human being learns to fine-tune that helpless high focus?
Lots of things, I’d wager. And one of them was Kage.
I lack several important ingredients in my own mental makeup. My focus is not as delicate or as strong as Kage’s: I’m distractable. Kage could look into starry infinity and read the license plates on bacteria (as it were); I can find Mars, Jupiter and Venus, and if I squint I can read the small print on menus … on the other had, I don’t walk into lamp posts and absent-mindedly apologize. I can write for a 12 hour stretch, if it’s all at night: with dawn, I curl up like a stale French fry.
But I do persevere. In stubbornness, I am Kage’s match.
This week I have been writing like a madwoman, determined to turn in at least 1,600 words a day during November. It’s NaNoWriMo, and I mean to get 50,000 words down before the 1st of December. I’m at 24,425 as of last night – almost halfway there, and only a not-quite-third of the way through the month. So my plan is working, BWA-HA-ha-ha!!!
But last week rehearsals for Dickens Fair in San Francisco also began. That’s 12 hours a week on the road (it’s a thousand mile round trip commute), 24 hours a week rehearsing, building and then performing. Last weekend, there was a dear friend’s wedding, too (Happy Occasion!); this week we begin actually building the set of the Green Man Tavern.
And tonight, I go to a memorial. Old and dear and fabulous friends, mine and Kage’s, have been dropping like flies this year. Time is chipping pieces off my heart, and a talus field of love and grief is piling up around my feet.
Which is a very poetic, of course, but what it means in practical terms is that I have to go out tonight! And tomorrow I have to get up and drive North, drop another old and dear friend in her home in Livermore along the way, meet with my minions in the Cow Palace to make sure the last wall meets the first wall and the Inn will stay up, and and then sometime Sunday drive back to LA. And start over.
Talk to you then, Dear Readers. In the meantime – put your feet up, read a good book, play a good game, sleep. For me, okay? I need to concentrate on something else for a while.
Safe travels and good bedding to you, Kathleen.
I believe that we will both be in a room bursting with compensated OCD cases, we call them
“our friends”. See you there.
Steven – You are correct. It’s a common theme in our rather odd circle, isn’t it? See you later –