Kage Baker hated change.
That’s not so peculiar, really. Most people dislike change, when you get right down to it. When there’s some vast problem, some injustice or societal harm going on, then people want a change – but in everyday life: not so much. It’s normal to resist change until you can be sure of it. It’s a survival technique, not a bug but a feature.
Of course, you need to make your mind up eventually, whether to embrace or resist change. That’s where most people get fouled up. They have difficulty making those hard, hard decisions. Is warmth and cooked food worth the danger of setting yourself on fire or angering the sun? Is it appropriate to eat the neighbors or might they be people, too? Should we really give up paper bags for plastic? Especially if, 50 years later, we have to decide to give up plastic bags for paper?
This stuff can be tough for people. To Kage’s credit, she was not afraid when it came to making decisions. She disliked change, especially small personal-level change; but when a choice was demanded, she buckled down and made it. Lots of folks can’t get over that impediment, but Kage had an iron will.
It’s how she learned to survive editors. I never, ever believed she would be able to manage the third-party editing process – though I knew she could write, I always feared she’d founder when it came to time to make changes to her stories. But she faced it clear-eyed and brave. She was brave enough to make the changes that were needed, and also brave enough to say NO when it mattered. She was blessed by extraordinary people in her first few editors, but still – that stumbling block for many new authors was simple for Kage.
She gibbered and wrung her hands for months, though, when I wanted to change our music system to CDs, She never did give up her beloved vinyl and turntable. And, of course, it has eventually turned out she was right about those …
But Change Happens.
Today, I terminated my business relationship with Kage’s old agent. The necessity has been growing for 3 years, now; I’ve avoided the decision because – well, she was good to Kage and I wanted to honour the association. These aspects no longer pertain.
And then, there was the element of arrant cowardice. When Kage died, she told me to keep writing – and to rely on her agent. If I parted from Linn Prentis, would any other agent want to consider my stuff as well as Kage’s Estate? I confess to considerable doubt and sniveling about this point.
So I hung on. But this … has not worked well. Linn kept both me and Subterranean on track to get Nell Gwynne II published: it was an heroic task, and I will always be grateful for that. However, the 2 short stories I’ve produced (under my own name) have been published through my own efforts, and the good will of Tachyon Publications and Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine.
Projects since Nell Gwynne II have tended to founder, unless I took them over myself. Since most of these were sales of Kage’s own work to new markets, they should have been relatively easy sales; but they’ve been delayed, mismanaged and misrepresented to the point where I am getting letters from polite but desperate foreign publishers begging for contracts … their inquiries, and mine, have vanished into the Void. Repeatedly. I get emails dated 2 and 3 years in the past, demanding action on projects settled months ago. Checks have been delayed, or arrived without payment details. The 2014 1099 never arrived at all.
So it’s come to the point where I gotta cut some ties and cast off in a new direction. Or maybe it’s in the same old direction, but with my own sail and rudder now. Can I find a new agent? I don’t know. But I know I will be able to do more work, more calmly and successfully, when I’m not worrying about whether or not – and how – Linn is answering the mail.
I may have shot myself in the foot, but I’ll be able to do a better job on Kage’s legacy. It’s just … making changes makes my stomach hurt.
SO, I will self-prescribe 50 grams of theobromos. Trader Joe’s Pound Plus Belgian Milk Chocolate – 5 squares should do it. It’s supposed to stave off strokes …