No Pom Poms, Please

Kage Baker was not much given to cheer leading. She was suspicious of glee clubs, and school spirit, and group displays of passion and loyalty; to her, these were private matters and not to be pranced over in public.

She liked reassurance; she appreciated enthusiasm. She tried to give support to her friends when they needed it – but I never heard her exaggerate a trouble or a virtue in order to make someone feel better. Not even herself. Not even gloating or disparaging an enemy; and Kage had a few, although mostly they were not aware of the enmity. They only got a hint when they realized all they could ever see of her were her heels, as she climbed far above them …

But she’d give a pat on the shoulder to someone who had been defeated. She would comfort the cheated, the victimized, the disappointed: not by assuring them that they would, yes, get what they so obviously deserved, no matter how unlikely it was:  but that they would get better. By which she meant, “heal”.

Pain passes, fatigue is revived, sorrow mellows, disappoint is survived. You move on and you get better. Kage felt that was the ultimate reward, really, for diligence and strength. It was what she hoped for, when her dreams were unfulfilled. It was what she offered most often in comfort.

Not that she was opposed to a little purgative yelling and cursing. Venting was good for the soul, she believed. Briefly, anyway. For the rest of it … vengeance is better served cold, and best of all when the avenged-upon is left standing in the dust wondering what the hell just happened. Kage favoured the Roadruner and Acme school of revenge: while you were wondering what ever happened to that Kage Baker? …  a rock with her initials carved on it landed on your head. But she was long gone on a better path.

Today, I got my cranky printer back up and running, and printed out the entire 411-pge bulk of my latest novel.  Actually, my clever nephew Mike did it, and supervised the entire run; now the thing is working perfectly, and I can print anything! The horse-choking MS is all boxed up and addressed and stamped, and as of Monday will be on its way to my agent. They tell me editors like ginormous email attachments (which I duly sent) but for them – hard copy, please.

Also, today, my most recent short story was rejected. No feedback – but the specs had asked for “literary” science fiction or fantasy, which I evidently did not accurately achieve. Maybe my submission had too little moon light or chiffon. Maybe it was bad (it could happen!) Maybe what they wanted was fan fiction. I don’t know and it’s all right – it’ll go somewhere else. In the meanwhile, I’ve been working on the sudden inspiration for the ending of “The Teddy Bear Squad”, and am pleased both at the essential motion of work and the way it is progressing. Like, at all.

“The Teddy Bear Squad” is a Company story, and it will be submitted first to Asimov’s. They may well turn it down, but I owe them first look. It makes me happy to be responsible for that small courtesy, and to know that I can actually send them one soon.

No cheer leading. No applause. None needed. Just the satisfaction of having work, and doing that work, and seeing that work pile up tidily on my desk and my screen.

Happiness is 4 pounds of novel waiting for the post.


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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4 Responses to No Pom Poms, Please

  1. mizkizzle says:

    Consoling shoulder pat. Rejections come with the territory. It would be nice if publishers were more specific about what they’ve looking for. It’s not enough to say they want character-driven tales, or literary fiction (there’s a truly vague category) or (my favorite) characters we can fall in love with! They should be specific, dammit! If they want clanking robots who shoot laser guns, they should say so. If they want the hero to be a transgender starship commander who suffered horrible abuse as a child, they should say so. Ugh! Anyway, you’re an incredibly good writer and your story will find a home somewhere.


    • Kate says:

      Thank you. I’m really not concerned. But anthologists really do get vague with their descriptions – small wonder it takes so long to get a collection together! The poor writers can’t tell if they should be submitting their super-secret reptiloid-furry confrontation, or recast “Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm” as military space opera …


  2. Medrith says:

    Sounds to me like the good far outweighs the bad. Woohoo! Yay Kathleen! (I do chher leading when it’s deserved.)


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