Kage Baker was convinced that ordinary life caused the worst obstructions to a creative life. It wasn’t the strange people, the bizarre accidents or the foreign diseases that most undermined an artist’s life – it was the plumbing. The grocery bills. The leaking roof, the mushy brakes, the crowd-caught grippe.
Mind you, her own specific artistic life was just as fraught with weirdities as with everyday problems. Maybe more so. She just found it easier to cope with the peculiar problems than with the standard ones. She could always write something really strange into the current narrative. Many of the Operative’s problems arose from troubling times in our house; Kage would hunch over her computer (or a legal pad, if the power had gone or we were stranded in the debris field around Mount Hood) and refute reality by transforming it into a better-plotted story.
It’s a gift. I don’t have it. What I do have is the dubious ability to combine strange and ordinary problems into nets of inconvenience that derail my life. What I’ve been doing lately is finding cliffs and falling off them.
I’ve spent the last fortnight fighting off a weird infection in my kidneys. UTI’s are often subtle, not causing much pain or trouble – but when they do get obvious, it then hurts a lot. Kidneys, in particular, are positively stuffed with nerve endings; I know this all too well, because mine have been trying to kill me since I was 14. This year, normal kidney pain – at least, the low-level discomfort I have grown to ignore as normal for me – bloomed slowly and cunningly into major pain.
At the same time, my blood sugar soared and refused to come back down. What do you do when your blood sugar is behaving like a grouchy cat stuck in a tree? You go see the doctor and complain; whereupon he informs you that you have a galloping UTI which is also panicking your body into clinging to all the blood sugar it can grab. I turned out to have an odd bacillus called P. klebsiella, which sounds like the name of an Ugly Step-sister. It behaves like one, too.
I’ve spent the last week on Cipro. Cipro is a kick-ass antibiotic, so kick-ass that it’s the standard drug prescribed for exposure to anthrax. It works by not quite killing the patient, and thus doing for the attacking bacillus. It has unusual side effect, for an antibiotic – drowsiness. Joint pain. Snapping tendons. Yes, Cipro apparently inflames tendons to the point where they snap like bra straps. It also makes you so dizzy and ill that you can really do nothing but sleep and run for the bathroom. Often at the same time …
It was the run-up to this hilarious mess that prevented me from writing, because I just felt generally ill. Then the UTI kicked in. Then the Cipro kicked in – and kicked both me and the klebsiella into the Twilight Zone.
At the apex (or maybe the nadir; I was pretty dizzy) I wasn’t sure if the disease or the cure was the worse deal. Luckily, all I had to do was hang on and not walk around on my endangered tendons. The Cipro won, the bacillus was defeated; and now that the demonic cure is out of my system I feel better than I have in a month. Even my blood sugar is behaving.
So I’ve dug my writing cap out of the piled up clean laundry, evicted all the mismatched socks living in it, and am resuming what passes for my normal life. Trying, anyway – I have the annual Write A Novel In A Month insanity for November, plus the rehearsals and build for this year’s Dickens Fair, one short story stalled in the works and another generating proofs for editing. I’ve been doing Dickens long-distance, and have yet to appear there – but my astonishing crew have been building, painting and decorating without me, and everything is on schedule. About 2,000 words a day get done on the novel. I got the proofs done and returned (thanks to Kimberly) and even a few words on the new story.
And now I’m returning here, Dear Readers, to assure you I am not dead or abducted. I fought off the Ugly Stepsister as well as the assassin who killed her, and I suspect I’m at least momentarily on a veritable peak of health. Extreme Christmas is in train, writing has resumed, and all the ordinary domestic problems – raccoons on the roof, cats stuck on the window screens, insane midnight cravings for Brussels sprout or bran muffins – have once again receded to a low background annoyance.
I don’t like the weird problems any more than the ordinary ones, but I am coping. I’ve fallen and gotten back up. I sometimes even dream that Kage is here, plotting out a route across a map done in glowing colours …
Back on course.