Kage Baker relied heavily on writing holidays. They were one of the primary energy sources for her creativity. One was always necessary when she started a new book, or got a custom assignment, or hit the 7th-inning doldrums on a story – she’d pick a place with a good hotel and restaurants, and off we’d go.
The idea was not a holiday from writing, as I have explained before. It was isolation for the purposes of writing. Whenever possible, we went places without phones; if the room came with one ( a lot of nice, atmospheric B & B’s don’t), I unplugged it. Same with the television; although, neither of us being very avid telly watchers, it was easy to ignore the idiot box. I just made sure Kage couldn’t find any showings of, oh, Samurai Jack or Treasure Island …
It got harder once Kage had her Buke and could find media from anywhere, any time. But usually, she was content to play whatever CD was supplying the soundtrack for that particular project, or tune in to KUSC online: it’s the only classical station that can be found anywhere in the world, I think, and is always glorious. And since she tended to take writing holidays in odd, distant places, it was sometimes hard to find an actual local station.
We found a lot of weird AM stations, though. Really scary talk shows, full of UFO reports and conspiracy theories; Coast to Coast with George Noory is broadcast everywhere. There is lots of assorted ethnic music: American country, zydeco, narcocorrido with bass viols and accordions, J-pop, Persian ballads, Icelandic rock … in California’s hinterlands, you find a lot of these little pockets of peculiar and specific genres. Other places, you just get dim static and flying saucer noises, or maybe it’s ghostly EM pollution … hard to tell. But it’s got no beat, and you can’t dance or write to it.
However, I know all the tricks to make a writing weekend pleasant and productive. And I really need one right now. The last year was bad, the winter was horrific, and nothing has settled down yet. So tomorrow, I am heading for Pacific Grove and the loveliest B & B I know, the Green Gables Inn, Kage’s favourite in all the world. I will hole up there, with yarn and knitting patterns and the Buke, and in the excellent company of my good friend Neassa. And we will actually write! We always do, although there is also plenty of talking, knitting, and giggling.
And eating. Breakfast at the Green Gables is stunningly good. There is coffee, tea and soda available all day; wine and cheese in the afternoons, sherry and cookies at night. And you cannot find a bad restaurant around Monterey Bay, even if you try. I want to go to the Forge in the Forest, in Carmel. It’s a wonderful restaurant, and the source and origin of the Shrine of the Father in Bird of the River. Kage loved it so much, she built an entire temple town out of it, and I need to go there and eat in the light of the (yes, actual) forge.
Though the Children of the Sun were exclusively Kage’s people, built of all her hot-hearted loves and eccentricities … Me, I’m the model for the yendri – broody, moody people with cold feet.
But I need to go to one of Kage’s sacred places, and re-dedicate myself to writing. So I will drink red wine, and eat honeyed apples in cream for breakfast, and watch the winter sea from behind the leaded-glass sanctuary of windows.
And I will write. See you from the road, Dear Readers.