Onward. Upward. Backward.

Kage Baker always said one should never give up. If one falls, or fails – well, so what? Get up and start again. I don’t think she ever gave up on something she really wanted, or knew she had to do. She said she had to do her duty, because it balanced her determination to get what she wanted at any cost …

Mind you, what she really wanted was usually something like a rare book, an old film, a trip to a beach she had last seen when she was 4. It wasn’t as though she had galactic domination in mind. She simply wanted what she wanted, and nothing less would do.

We once hunted through San Francisco for an entire rainy weekend to find the street address where Daddy had lived in the 1940’s. Very exciting it was, too, since it was in the hills above Lombard, looking out down insane slopes into the Bay beyond. Have you ever seen the streets up there? Steep, narrow, and with a freaking stop sign at every intersection – a real E-ticket drive if one is driving a car with a manual transmission. And Kage hanging out the window, the rain running down her braid and turning her hair the improbable colour of garnets, pointing the way and yelling with glee …

I lack a certain essential adamantine quality Kage possessed. I get tired, I get discouraged, I get depressed. I set tasks aside. Since the first of the year, it’s been a real uphill slog to get writing done; the depths of the Bay are always at my back, a sucking void of ambition.

Sorry, Dear Readers. I keep catching colds while recuperating from depression, and then getting depressed again while I recover from the colds. And then I decided to re-read the entire Dune series. And the watch the entire Stargate canon. And I discovered the fascinating new evolutionary theories of evo-devo …

Anything rather than write, that’s what happened. Even Kage had fits like this, but when you watch someone go through this from the outside – well, what you see is the determination with which they rise above the impulse to sit on the couch and share peanut-butter pretzels with the parrot all day while you finally read the 14th volume of the Wheel of Time. I never saw what sudden escapement among the glittering wheels in her head suddenly unlocked Kage’s sense of purpose, and sent her into turbodrive.

And even if I had seen it, I don’t have it.

But I do have my own kind of stubbornness. I can walk until I get there. Where ever that turns out to be.  None of this “Excelsior” crap, I don’t have the time or energy to go charging about waving banners. Nope, for me it’s the measured pace, one foot in front of the other, and walk backwards for a while if the way gets too steep.That way, what’s in front of you becomes an interesting surprise, and you can draw strength from the familiar view behind you. Standing up and moving, that’s all that matters. So – onward.

I’m out of pretzels anyway.

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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12 Responses to Onward. Upward. Backward.

  1. johnbrownson says:

    Well, one hates to seem an enabler but, Kate, you have been dealing with a few tiny health issues and it has been (and continues to be) Winter, even though the crocuses are croaking or creaking or cracking or whatever it is they do. Is’t possible you could cut your sweet self just the teeniest bit of slack, all things considered? Hmmm? C’mon.


  2. Tom Barclay says:

    Do you like Bill Evans’ piano playing? I suggest a listen to ‘You Must Believe In Spring’ as a medicine for the melancholy. I’m off to go hear it myself. Seems there’s an outbreak of Black Dog, lately.



  3. Kate says:

    I do like that one by Evans, Tom – thanks for the reminder. And Buffalo – I have the Dulcimates’ “Green Man” running through my head ALL the time, which helps. But don’t encourage me to slack! I am much to good at it! A little breathing space, that’s all I need – then back to work. I like it, once I get off my butt and start writing.


  4. Brad Campbell says:

    Well, I FINALLY got to read ‘Nell Gwynne’s On Land and At Sea’.
    (I WOULD have read it much, much sooner, but Marc (another of your bloggees) said, “Don’t buy it because it’ll be a birthday present from me.” THEN he became involved in moving and NEGLECTED to mail it to me, until I howled.) But I digress…

    I certainly wish you wrote as fast as I read. From your recent interview I knew about the first 14 pages…Those first 14 pages were a treasure, the remaining 162 were a treat. As the book progressed, the ‘voice’ remained consistent in my ear. The wry and the sly humor were liberally woven into the fabric of the story….AND, you didn’t let any of our girls get hurt.

    So…I just wanted you to know that I, for one, consider Kage & Kate’s new book a comforting addition to my Kage Baker/Nell Gwynne collection(s).


    I’ve parsed out my reading of my Kage Baker collection. As a result, I have 2 of her books that I’ve not yet read: The House of Stag and Or Else My Lady Keeps the Key (as well as VanderMeer’s Fast Ships, Black Sails). I get to look forward to reading Kage Baker books I haven’t read yet. How lucky is that?



    • Kate says:

      Thank you, Brad! Your note made my day. I am so glad to know the voice was consistent and appropriate.

      As for not letting the girls get hurt – no, that was something Kage totally detested. Hurting your characters is an excuse for not being able to invent any drama. Kage felt it was a cheap trick, and unhealthy besides.

      Kathleen kbco.wordpress.com


  5. Miz Kizzle says:

    Watching a few back-to-back episodes of Dr. Who usually cheers me up, as does scanning the internet for weird news stories like the invasion of rabbits that are eating the wires in engines of cars parked at Denver International Airport. There are hundreds of the damn things and nothing can stop them, nothing!


    • Kate says:

      Re: the Denver airport rabbits. Authorities are actually recommending that the car wires have coyote urine rubbed on them, to keep the bunnies away. No clue as to where you get the stuff, other than the obvious. But this is apparently their idea of a sensible solution. I love it.

      Kathleen kbco.wordpress.com


      • Miz Kizzle says:

        What? You don’t have a handy container of coyote urine in your cupboard? Here in NJ we swear by the stuff for keeping whitetail deer from treating our gardens like their own personal salad bars. Coyote urine is available online from Amazon and from an awesomely named source called The Pee Mart.


      • Kate says:

        Wow. You can order coyote urine on Amazon … I learned something today. I also have more confirmation that the world is an even weirder place than I had hitherto thought it. Thank you, I needed that.

        Here in California, we do indeed have trouble with white tail deer eating gardens; especially here on the edge of Griffith Park. It’s usually been solved by my family with dogs in the yard – the Corgi identifies deer as cattle, and is more than happy to herd them; they go nuts and leave – and by encouraging male members of the household to take the occasional leak along the property lines.

        Neither of those solutions would help the long-term parkers in the Denver airport, I guess. Although the image of a neatly dressed businessman peeing on his own tired to keep away the rabbits is pretty damned funny …


  6. Alex T. says:

    Hi Kate, I’m sorry to hear about the depression and colds. I can relate to both. In fact, I can also relate to that ‘I should be writing, but am not’ feeling. In any case, what I am trying to say is that I hope you feel better soon because I’d love to read whatever your currently working on (once it comes to press). If I recall correctly, you mentioned some posts back that you were writing a story about Joseph? Is this correct, because if so I could literally dance for joy at the prospect of reading it in the upcoming months / year.


  7. I quite like looking through an article that can make men and women think.
    Also, thanks for allowing for me to comment!


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