Never Giving Up

Kage Baker lived an enchanted life. I really believe she did, as her luck was astonishing.

Some of that is attributable to her having a will of iron and  refusing to cooperate with the daily ration of shit the Universe delivers to all of us. She simply wasn’t having any of that, and would go on her way in pursuit of goals that would have seemed totally impossible to most people. I know, because 1) they seemed impossible to me, and I was there; and 2) she accomplished them anyway.

Kage wanted to be a writer. She succeeded at this task. This is a much larger victory than most people realize, though all writers will realize the enormity of the triumph. Even if you, as a writer, are satisfied with just being a private, domestic writer – one who,  like Emily Dickinson, writes for your own self and never sees a public sale or audience – the strength and discipline required to actually write all that stuff is heroic. Many try; few succeed, even in their private journals.

Further, Kage wanted to be a published writer. This, despite the historically growing ranks of the literate throughout Time, remains one of the largest, harshest, most unfairly rigged lotteries on Earth. But that never gave Kage a moment’s pause. It was what she intended to do. And she did it. And so strong was her intent, that I am still getting things published on the mere strength of her name.

I don’t dare stop. Some vital escapement on the gears of Time will probably fly off into starry infinity, and cause the Universe to dissolve into turkey gravy, or something …

Kage wanted to make her living at home, writing. She might have waited until she retired, but no – she wanted to do it while she was still in those years which her staunchly middle-class upbringing told her were the years to make your way. So she did. She moved someplace where it was cheaper to live, she built her entire working day around the production of her craft, and she worked as steadily at that as she ever did administering insurance or selling ad space (both of which she did with great success). By the time she died, she had been making more writing than at any other job she had ever held, and did so at her beloved oaken desk looking at the sea from her front room window …

Had Kage beaten the cancer, she’d have been supporting me too within a year or so.

That’s one of the reasons I retired early and took up her work. She made me promise to do so, of course, which would have been enough – but she had demonstrably so overpowered Fate with the sheer energy of her will, that I have had no reason to ever think it would not continue to work. That undoubtedly has more than a small helping o my own hubris in it; but you know? It’s been pretty much working …

The only problem has been the collapse of my health. After more than half a century of fairly robust life, my body fell apart like the One Hoss Shay* once Kage was gone. It’s made doing anything and everything somewhat harder than I had anticipated. But I soldier on …

At the moment, just as I was poised to resume Dickens Fair with all the vigor and enthusiasm of youth – I have been firmly reminded that I no longer on the positive side of that ledger. Right now, I am at home – still – and will be so for this weekend as well. I am fighting pneumonia;  so far, I am winning, but if I go dashing off, I likely will lose that battle. Probably my family will kill me, too, if I do something so stupid.

I hate this. I had a crying fit this morning when I realized I was not going to be able to go North; that was especially idiotic, since I was then nearly drowned by my streaming eyes and nose, and just about coughed my lungs out, too. But, Dear Readers, it is the ultimate bummer to embark on Extreme Christmas, to set out on the glorious starry Road of the Weird, and then to be jerked up short by the failures of the flesh. MY flesh, anyway; I could forgive other people, but it’s my own damned body that has betrayed me.

This is not acceptable.

So I’m not accepting it. Kage never accepted all the common sense strictures that said she would never succeed at her goals: she just kept on working until she Did It. While I am not driving North (Kimberly would hide my keys, I suspect), neither am I giving up, There is still Last Weekend after this one – a new goal at which to aim my will and desire.

And in the meantime, there is the writing. There is always the writing.

And that’s the other thing Kage taught me about never giving up. If you never give up on The Work, The Work stays dependable. And that is all that matters.





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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11 Responses to Never Giving Up

  1. Cora Hendershot says:

    Oh no, don’t you Dare try to come up this weekend! Rest, gather strength, take every vitamin and herb advised, Consider last weekend. Gods and Fate willing, Dickens will still be there 2017. Make sure you are alive to be there as well. The Cow Palace Crud would only make matters worse.


    • Kate says:

      Yeah, my sister Kimberly has expressed much the same idea. With threats … but I am being sensible. I’m aiming at Last Weekend, and I am a firm believer that Dickens Fair will be here next year as well. Extreme Christmas is always there! But I do so miss all of you – spread the word.


  2. Jane says:

    Oh no, so sorry that pneumonia has hit you. I know you’ll fight and win, but I wish you didn’t have to!


  3. buggybite says:

    That is such a shame; you do so look forward to your Dickens Fair, and we enjoy reading about your experiences there. Here’s hoping you make the last weekend.

    Just a thought. Here in the UK there has been a pneumococcal vaccine available to us over-60s for the last couple of years. It’s a one-off vaccine (unlike the flu vaccine which needs to be renewed every year.) I don’t know how effective it is, but pneumonia is such a problem that I figured I’d get mine done (last year.) So far, so good. You might want to look into this little miracle, if it’s available to you. It just might work.

    Anyway, good luck and here’s a push from overseas in the direction of Get Better Within The Next Couple of Days.


    • Kate says:

      Thank you for the good wishes and information! Yes, we have that vaccine here too, and I have had it – here in the paranoid US, they tell you it’s not a one-off, but IS good for 7 years: and I am still well within that time frame. My problem is that pneumonia can be caused by several different things – which are not covered by the pneumococcal vaccine. Getting old is very complicated!


      • buggybite says:

        Yeah, I kinda thought that was too good to be true. Strange that in the USA it’s a 7-year thing, and here it’s a one-off. Wonder if they are the same vaccine? Ach well, as you say, getting old isn’t simple. That old Pollyanna-ish saying ‘well, you never know what’s around the corner’ takes on a sinister tone as the years pile up.


  4. mizkizzle says:

    Sorry about your illness. It’s probably best to stay home and rest instead of going to a large, public venue where you might infect other people (especially ones you like; infecting one’s enemies is a GOOD thing.)
    Young people today know nothing. They’re not only unfamiliar with the wonderful one-horse shay they don’t know the words to Put on Your Old Grey Bonnet, nor can they recite Casabianca, neither the clean version or the dirty one.
    Feel better soon!

    Liked by 2 people

  5. athene says:

    I, certainly, would kill you. Or, at the very least, catch you when you tried to run and hold you while Kimberly killed you. Some Christmas isn’t no Christmas at all, you know.


    • Kate says:

      Athene – and I can’t figure out a route that doesn’t take me through your Long Distance Radar net. I have gotten spoiled, running all over and doing I please – but lately, I am learning to take what I can get and behave myself. Staying home is also Extreme Christmas; and as you say, some is better than none at all!


  6. Kate says:

    Well, now I’m crying.


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