Kage Baker was a firm proponent of the old saw: “If you want to be a writer, write.”

When first informed of this adage, her response was outrage. “If I could freaking write, ” she fumed, “I would be freaking writing!”  She eventually parsed it, though, down to its lowest denominator meaning: sit your butt down and press keys. Sharpen your favourite #2 pencil (“sooo aptly named,” as Kage said.). Get out your magic pen – every writer has one; I certainly do – and make squiggles on paper.

Ever watch the opening of the Daily Show? John Stewart is making furious, spurious notes on old blue script pages to give an appearance of deep busy-ness. Do that, and eventually some of the nonsense you write will turn into words …

Stay away from computer games. Kage permitted herself to play Free Cell until she won a game, as she started her writing each day; but you must put that limit on it! In my own depressed and blocked state this last week, I have turned to solitaire Mah Jong. So far, I have played 367 games of a specialty layout called The Archer- not different games, I just keep calling up different deal-outs on the same layout. And I have yet to win one.

I need to change my process, my game or my Mah Jong layout. At this point, I am seeing tiny painted tiles like dancing petit fours in my dreams at night …

Friends and family members are sending me cautious inquiries. You know: Don’t set your hair on fire or anything, but, um, are you ever gonna write again?  My sister Kimberly is getting a lot less subtle about it, but she’s got worries of of her own – her husband, my brother-in-law, just had a pacemaker implanted, and Kimberly has more important things to do than slap me upside the head as she zooms past my desk and yells WRITE! at me.

Last night I dreamed of Kage, who scowled at me and told me to get back to work. In the context of the dream, she was telling me to build an Inn – evidently my unconscious’ default setting for symbolizing random creative work. So I sat down and started pounding on these keys.

To amuse you all in the meantime, here are some interesting things I’ve collected to riff on in the last few days:


Proof of the Operatives’ fondness for the stuff, and probably the seminal research that led to theobromine being used initially to boost the Operatives’ intellects. I am quite sure this is how they end up so sensitive to it, as well as why their designers couldn’t eliminate the addiction.


This one is incredibly cool – we might get to watch a comet hit Mars! It may even deliver a few shiat-tons of water – comets are full of water, usually – and we can see how an air strike works to enrich the atmosphere. We might want to use the technique some day (thank you , Larry Niven!). Although I hope Fate does not drop a big rock on one of our Rovers, or split the poor planet like a cantaloupe.


This one is the stuff of nightmares, straight out of H.P. Lovecraft and Lord Dunsany. Apparently Florida is a rocky spongecake below the surface dirt, and this poor bugger got sucked into the Netherworld.


And a barbecue was declared along the Gaza Strip! Fish fry for all! Apparently manta rays are edible, being neither treff nor haram, and this mass migration gone wrong is regarded by all and sundry as a gift from God. Nice to see good news about something landing unexpectedly in Gaza.

There! I’ve done something kind of productive. Less Mah Jong and more of the H=John Stewart model of writing, and things will improve. Don’t stop yelling at me, though, Dear Readers – I need it.

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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6 Responses to Potpourri

  1. Tom B. says:

    I envision Joseph on one side of you, and Lewis on the other, each giving their particular kind of encouragement. Kind of like those old Devil VS Angel cartoons, huh? And then one of the Little Stupid Guys is found weeping under the settee (very distressing to the corgi), asking you to pleasepleasepleasepleaseplease take the new Magic Pen he has made for you, so that he can go back to his laBORatory to work in peace.

    If he made any spares, please tell him I could use one right now!


  2. Jan Foley says:

    Well, if you get REALLY stuck, I’ve know another great online version of Mah Jongg…


  3. Allison says:

    Jon didn’t have his pen tonight on the Daily Show. He blamed it on the sequester, but I’d like to believe it was scorcered and is flying through the air to you. One should have lots of magic pens in many different colors.


  4. ~ Becky says:

    Oh, I can just hear Kimberly yelling, “WRITE!” But wasn’t there some exploitative with that? 🙂


  5. Miz Kizzle says:

    The sinkhole swallowed the wrong guy named Bush, IMHO.


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