Kage Baker did not quite approve of blogs. There were several she followed pretty faithfully – many others she encountered for a brief look-see during her wide-ranging treasure hunts through the Aether. But she never really liked them.
I think she may have tried her hand at one, eventually, but for two things. First, the big one: she didn’t have the time. She had a system of production, which she stuck to with determination and an iron will. It didn’t include casting a thousand words a day or so to the winds, like bread for the birds. If she wanted to feed birds, she said, she would – but bread was easier come by than words, and less valuable …
The second thing, small but potent, was a brief violent wooing by someone who wanted her blog to post on his site. He cajoled, he flattered, he threatened; he told her that no writer could be taken seriously by her audience unless she also wrote a blog. He claimed she owed in to her own Dear Readers. He told her that she must not be a very good writer after all, if she could not dash off a short piece every single day on demand.
At which point, he found out what Kage could do. She could block his sorry ass, and she could talk about him and his rudesby antics at every con panel and chat room she was on that year. A few charitable people they knew in common sent her his apologies; the ones who knew her better didn’t waste their breath or electricity. Kage could forgive, but she never forgot – and when you’d used up your chances with her, they never in this life came again.
When I began considering a blog, therefore, a year or two before Kage fell ill, she discouraged me. She was soured on the idea. “If you need to write – and you can write, I know you can -” she scolded me, ” – then write something real. You don’t have to show it to me, or anyone else until you’re ready. No one really wants to look at pictures of someone’s dinner or read another joke about cats!”
Well, Kage’s usually well-developed sense of the human condition was wrong on that score – the things that people will willingly watch on the Intertubes are nothing short of horrific. Kage had to admit that when she discovered … The Corn Cam. Yes, it’s a webcam focused on a single field of corn somewhere in Idaho, from planting to eventual harvest. She watched the entire season, for years. I must admit, I still do. If you’re in need of some pastoral Zen, Dear Readers, try this:
Anyway, Kage sort of had to abandon her opinions of just what folks would be willing to watch. However, she never did feel that a blog was real work, or real writing. And shortly thereafter, she got sick, and I had no time for much of anything else for a long time.
Six months after Kage died, the idea of a blog came back to me. Neassa and Kimberly encouraged me at it – I think they might have encouraged me in anything from dried fairy collecting to belly dancing, if it meant getting me to act like I was alive again. What it turned out to be, for me, was what it never ever was for Kage: a practice slate. A warm up exercise. A bonfire in the dark, to let other wanderers know someone was here. My good luck, for once, exceeded Kage’s – it brought me my Dear Readers, you who have tacked my flapping sanity back on my skull more than once.
Maybe it wouldn’t have worked if I did post photos of my meals, or my cats, or blurry rainbows and natural phenomenon … but I have a sort of negative charisma over cameras, which has grown more pernicious as the things have interbred with phones … anyway, the only photos I can post are ones I snitch from public sites to illustrate some of the weirder things my own researches turn up. You’re very lucky in that, Dear Readers. For one thing, there’s an astonishing paucity of photos of giant bugs and unclassified bovines, so I can’t do it very often anyway.
But bloggery – yes indeed, that has turned out very well for me. I am grateful to all you Dear Readers, too, for providing an outlet and audience for the weird directions and shapes my imagination takes on the way to a plot. You’re a large part of why my first solo story will be printed in Asimov’s next March.
In between working on today’s effort, for example, I’ve been reading up on lesions in nerve tissue caused by mercury, as research for “The Teddy Bear Squad”. And answering my email. And deleting the truly entertaining spam I continuously receive on this site. People who spam bloggers clearly thing that said bloggers are isolated folks with a desperate need of entertainment: 90% of my spam is for pornography. The rest is altruists who want to help me make my blog really successful; foreign bankers with a spare 6 million or so to give away; or folks selling weird services like tattoo removal (or application). Today it was both penis enhancement and breast enlargement, which seems to indicate my correspondents have a very odd idea of my anatomy …
You know, maybe these sorts of whacky adverts are hopeful attempts of aliens to communicate with us. Maybe they’re looking for someone who shares some of their attributes; and being shallow, unrefined barbarians, we keep missing the point. Perhaps the only thing barring our entry into the Galactic League is our lack of a corps of diplomatically trained hermaphrodites …
And here’s another use for blogs, Dear Readers – the echoes you get by shouting into the waiting darkness. Because everything is out there somewhere.
Kathleen, we are honored by your presence in the Aethernet. You and the gentle author from Spitlefield are the only two I read on a daily basis because I too, don’t want food pictures, kitty jokes or to either enlarge my breasts or penis. And I don’t care how many Russian brides are waiting for my response!
“…a corps of diplomatically trained hermaphrodites …”
Really. Out loud.
Am drawing concerned looks from the dog…
Yours is the only blog I read that isn’t written by somebody I actually know in person. I started because I wanted to know more about Kage Baker, an author whose works have always stood out for me. I now read it every day because I bloody love this blog. What an entertaining and insightful writer you are. This is a medium that suits you, for sure. A great way for me to start my mornings, that’s for sure. Thank you.
Gosh, thank you, Jan. Certainly, this blog feels like a conversation to me – the sort of leaping from stone to stone, neck-and-neck with reality conversations Kage and I had. Now I’m having them with all of you … which I really, really, REALLY enjoy.
How presumptuous of the Terrible Man! Obsessed fans are the worst.
How do you like Twitter? I like it a lot. It forces me to combat my tendancy to verbosity.
Your blog is great and I’m so glad you keep doing it. Also – I’m excited to see how the Teddy Bear Squad turns out! Who says sci-fi can’t be cute and fuzzy? Its not all drooling giant reptiles!
My thought exactly. People who deal with cute animals shouldn’t have to be ashamed of loving fluff!
I have to admit, the wait to March is intense. I really and truly cannot wait to read your story.
Thank you. I hope you like it when it comes out.