Kage Baker was, most adamantly and by deliberate self-design, a writer. She wrote – first, foremost, in preference to almost any other activity, she wrote.
It’s an ideal for most writers. But it takes the kind of dedication, stubbornness and occasional plain good luck that being a professional dancer or musician needs. Simply being able to survive while you write enough to become both good at your craft and financially viable requires something close to a miracle. Kage won a lottery that very few people ever do when she finally succeeded in earning her bread with her writing.
And she was only a mid-list writer! The truly astonishing success of writers like King or Grisham or Meyer makes money in unbelievable amounts; but even just barely making a living at writing is miraculous. Especially in science fiction, where quite successful writers notoriously cannot not give up their day jobs … trust funds, couch-surfing and living in friends’ basements have figured largely in a lot of speculative fiction writers’ lives.
Kage not only made her own living, she was almost able to support me. Within a year or two, I think, she’d have reached that plateau. For years, the way she managed to devote her main energies to writing was via our team effort. She wrote, and pulled in lots of money at wide but repeating intervals; I ran the house, and brought home small amounts on a regular schedule. Kage cooked; I cleaned. She gardened; I drove. She composed, and I read the contracts and paid the bills. It was a rather frenetic way to set up a budget, but it worked.
“Good thing we’ve been short of money all our lives,” was Kage’s cheerful opinion. “We already know how to live on next to nothing. Social Security is gonna be a piece of cake!”
And it would have been, too. The up-side (such as it is) of my hitting old age and bad health more or less simultaneously has been that the last 5 years have been financially … easier. Money disasters have been few. I’ve been able to contribute to the household of which I am now a part – and I have a household of which to be a part at all, which is no small thing in this day and age. Fortune has continued to favour me in this peculiar regard, just as it always – though sometimes at the last minute! – favoured me and Kage.
I firmly believe that moving in with family makes all the difference in the world. If you have been careful with your selection of family, they will last you a lifetime. However, I can’t hand off many of the details of life, as Kage often did to find time for writing. My family is already engaged in lots and lots of necessary things.
For the last 2 weeks, I’ve been battling with persistent and pernicious influenza. Not stomach “flu” (which is a misnomer anyway) but old-fashioned respiratory flu: fevers, aching bones, a chest full of wet concrete. Or so I assume, based on the way it feels and behaves; it may be something more organic. Maybe corn meal mush.
My throat hurts; my voice has been missing, and it sounds weird when it shows up for work. It’s made me cough until my eyeballs fell out, and the sound of my breathing out goes on for 5 seconds after I stop exhaling – to the accompaniment of wheezes, whistles, and angry cat-noises. Sleeping lying down has been impossible, and sleeping sitting up just doesn’t work. I’ve been a mess.
But today, Dear Readers, I am almost recovered! Kimberly has kept me supplied with Kleenex, vital drugs, juice and coffee: I am restored to the land of the living. And she has gently reminded me that I really ought to post something here – it’s not her fault I haven’t, I was just flattened by the wretched virus.
But I am back. The story will resume. Thank you for your patience.