Kage Baker, as I have described before, liked to take the week between Christmas and New Year as a sacred space. A hidden place, a haven; a comfortably “non-time” wherein to seek release from the weight from the year’s toil just past and flex your shoulders before the next year’s load lands. Several cultures have assigned this neutral quality to the changeover of years, and Kage thought it a very fine idea.
Hence our life-long habit of lolling around all New Year’s Day, eating leftover Christmas sweeties and the new feast of January 1st, playing with our toys … mind you, Kage usually wrote a bit, as well, but that wasn’t work. That was indulgence in her OCD (or so she claimed) or sometimes experimentation with something for which she had no purpose. Yet.
A lot of stories grew out of these non-times. Conventions were non-times, except for the portions Kage actually spent in a panel; the rest of any given convention, we were in the bar, the restaurant, the bar outside the Dealers Room, the bar beside the pool, the bar in the Green Room, or in our own room looking through the Room Service menu …
The Bird of the River was entirely worked out in the golden oak-walled bar of a hotel in Kansas City, MO over an endless supply of Planter’s Punch (Kage) and coffee (me). The second section of Anvil of the World was outlined at a BayCon one May in 2007;”Running The Snake” at the same convention in 2006. Nell Gwynne II was written in large part at the Nebula convention in Cocoa Beach, FL in 2010 … by me, in between adding Nebula pins to Kage’s awards pinned to my Hawaiian shirt.
And every road trip was a sanctuary of non-time, wherein we plotted literarily and literally, but mostly had a grand time being invisible and untraceable on the Never Ending Road. No one could find us then. Even after cell phones took over the world, it wasn’t easy to find us … one is only a slave to one’s shackles, Kage pointed out, if you answer the damned phone. And we almost never did.
Still. The non-times, the quiet times; the brief vacations on floating islands, in dubious lands, in Hy-Brazil or Avalon or Tir na nOg – those may have been stolen hours, but they were never free. They had to be paid for, eventually. Best of payments was something made in their sacred sanctuary. something woven of fire and sea foam and bright metals and dark wines, and carried back to the Fields We Know hidden in one’s bosom … whereupon you might be lucky and allowed to free the newly-born by shedding your coat. Or maybe you had to slice open your heart. And you never knew which until you came back.
Oh, but it’s worth it, Dear Readers. Both the heart’s ease and the heart’s blood are worth it – for the journey, for the singing of the strands under your fingers as you weave, for the clearing fog that finally lifts from unknown vistas and a glimpse of the face of a god.
A new year’s day, every non-time.
Kate, have you ever read Mary Renault’s “The Mask of Apollo”? I recommend it to you.
No, oddly enough. I will, though. In turn, have you read C.S. Lewis’ “Until We Have Faces”? I recommend *that*