Things That Are Distracting Me Today

Kage Baker was intensely involved in distractions.

On the one hand, she hated them, with an impressive score on the proverbial thousand-suns heat register. She freely admitted that No, she probably couldn’t chew gum and walk at the same time – so she damned well couldn’t write in the same room as a party. Confronted with a living room full of guests when she was engaged at her computer, Kage often just decamped to her bedroom with her laptop. All your friends and relatives at once – which is what you tend to accumulate on a summer weekend at the beach – are harder to intimidate into silence than your sister and one parrot.

On the other hand, Kage felt that distractions should be used by the discerning writer. They were brief sabbaticals, little bubbles in the stream of consciousness where new ideas could proliferate and spawn. They could lead to vital ideas, and new areas to explore – and she made a habit of scheduling time to succumb, and also of stockpiling proven distractions for use as rewards, goads, and wrenches to reverse creative polarity.

On the other other hand – no one was ever better than Kage Baker at justifying the need to play a new game or watch a favourite movie for 4,379th time.

Whatever, she was, surprisingly, more at ease with being distracted than I find myself to be. I can still be knocked right off the intellectual track by a wee little splinter on the rails; or tempted into the high brush by a new book.

For your amusement, Dear Readers – and as a Public Safety Warning – here are things currently generating static and boiling in my head. Some of them will be from whence  ideas are born.    Kage adored lost, unknown, mythological and outright untrue islands. This is a brief history of Dubious Lands. A lot of Company activity takes place there.  Many entries in the first printing of the Oxford English Dictionary – that divine amalgam of etymology and brick-building – were compiled by a barking insane conspiracy theorist while he was serving a life sentence for murder. Ways to make your hobbies pay, Dear Readers. And spend a mortal lifetime on a project behind bars: not all Operatives have all their gaskets tight.   A couple of ladies survived being stranded for a long time in their car, mostly with the assistance of an amply supply of Girl Scout Cookies. They have to be Operatives. Thin Mints Rule!   It’s Californian, it was considered extinct but has been found again, and it likes the night life: there is a story here, I know there is. “Night of the Island Night Lizard”, maybe. Remember Black Earth, from Kage’s novella “To The Land Beyond The Sunset”? This little company is making it for sale. A Company project? Someone’s Retirement Plan? An illustration of Kage’s theory that only profit gets people to try redemptive new technologies.  This is the public face of the Vaults where the Company keeps the fruits, seeds and nuts of its botany Operatives. You can take a virtual tour. I need to research Norwegian, Icelandic and Inuit cuisine …

On the repeating theme of calendars, here are calendar cufflinks. I want to give these to someone who can pretend they are the controls of a time machine.

Pele’s Tears are volcanic glass tear drops produced by Hawaiian volcanoes. But sometimes, they are hollow glass balls. Fish floats? Netsuki of the goddess? Volcano seeds? The possibilities are fascinating.

Hollow Pele's tear found at Halema`uma`u overlook. Erupted following January 8, 0351 explosive event triggered by rockfall.

Hollow Pele’s tear found at Halema`uma`u overlook. Erupted following January 8, 0351 explosive event triggered by rockfall.  Thank you, Neassa, for providing me with this link! Someone has begun 3-d printing trilobites in brass, bronze, steel, silver – they are gorgeous. Everyone needs one. And I suspect that somewhere, someone with a nice little cottage on the shore of a warm sea is breeding scads of the real ones for the day the Company releases them and revolutionizes the seafood industry. I can see it now – ‘Bites and Chips!

printed trilobites

So there you go, Dear Readers. Not only am I passing on the viral ideas that are infecting my brain (like a good host), I can claim virtuous behaviour by having to come up with story ideas to use them. Plus, I get a blog written; plus that very blog serves as story notes for all of them!

This probably earns me a couple of hours reading Terry Pratchett novels. I’m re-reading them all in order, from the beginning. It stirs my soul and my imagination, and makes me feel simultaneously happy and dutiful.  What could be better. Right?


About Kate

I am Kage Baker's sister. Kage was/is a well-known science fiction writer, who died on January 31, 2010. She told me to keep her work going - I'm doing that. This blog will document the process.
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6 Responses to Things That Are Distracting Me Today

  1. Tom says:

    Those are deeply handsome items, the trilobite and the cuff links.


  2. Lynn says:

    Now I’m pining for trilobite cuff links.


  3. Atalanta Pendragonne says:

    Three cheers for Pratchett! I’ve been following along with Mark Reads Discworld myself – the videos he posts as he reads aloud, completely unspoiled, are such a delight. And next week he finishes Men At Arms and starts Soul Music, which is a fave of mine.


    • Kate says:

      I’m having fun reading them in order – identifying trends that became canon, watching the dvelopment of bits of style and specific characters. And, of course, one always finds a joke or meaning or reference that one somehow never saw before. It’s amazing.


      • Atalanta Pendragonne says:

        Oh, yes! Unlike some other series-es (never have found a satisfactory plural form of that word!) that I’ve reread countless time over the years, I’ve pretty much treated the Discworld books as standalones, so my favorites have been read to tatters while some others I hadn’t reread since they first came out! It’s fascinating watching characters that I’ve come to think of as old friends in fairly static terms being slowly developed and gradually fleshed out. And being able to watch people reading the books for the first time flail is making it all the sweeter.

        Liked by 1 person

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