Little Things

Kage Baker tried her best to ignore the little niggling attacks of life on her time and energy.

Large portions of her schedules were designed to resist the effects of the tiny problems, the ones that crowd into your time like evil rodents from hell and nibble on you. You don’t die from them, but they are so uncomfortable and annoying that they’re worse than dying – they are pointlessly time-consuming.

She hated that more than anything, I think. Even Kage could bow to the inevitability of being derailed by a death, or a natural disaster, or catastrophic violence. Of course, not much else was acceptable as a long-term excuse not to write. She carried pens and notebooks everywhere; she had them packed in our bug out bags in case the nuclear power plant 15 miles away ever went hot. We always had candles and food and such, for times when the winter storms took out the roads. And it took her own death to put a stop to her writing – even then, she was dictating to me the day she died. And of course, she left me with all sorts of projects to work on when she was gone.

One of the major things she avoided, for fear of having her writing energies utterly blocked, was reading her rejection notices. Some she eventually read, after they had aged and been translated over and over by me. Some, Kage never read at all – although she knew what they all said. She just preferred to hear about them through the medium of my translation, like staring at the Gorgon over her shoulder in a mirror.

I have found that I can cope with my own directly. However, those hordes of tiny gerbil-fanged problems that run through all our days and gnaw on our feet: those drive me up the wall! I can be unhinged, rendered  mute and incapable by enough dead light bulbs, socks with holes in them, and slow-loading web sites in one morning. Paper cuts have more sway over my nerves than earthquakes. Running out of half and half is disastrous.

The last few days have been one of those times when the hordes of itty bitty problems are mounting over the walls like miniature zombies. It all culminated yestreday when the Check Engine light came on in the family car. It had to go to the mechanic; and since my Cruiser is still benched, we had to rent a car.  Enterprise Rental was not its usual efficient self; they sent a full-sized pickup truck to give me a lift, and I could only get into it on my hands and knees. (The driver watched in fascination but offered no help.) Their office was full of space aliens and morons, most of them of staff. Film crews closed off half the streets into and out of my neighborhood. Metallic balloons were drifting into the power lines, dogs and cats were lost and wailing all over, and there were rumours of a body found in the River …

On the plus side, I rented an Impala. On the negative side, Kimberly and I were unable to fill the vast trunk with guns and ride off to fight vampires. And then I got a rejection letter.

See, Dear Readers, in the interests of accomplishing something – and maybe luring some of the more manic energies of my mind back to duty – I have been working on all sorts of juju to keep the creativity flowing. And it’s been working! I sent off a tiny story; sent it off twice this week,  in fact – the first place assured me of an answer within mere days, and they kept their promise, too. They said NO.

They also sent a nice list of reasons, which will eventually be very helpful. But in the meantime, I am wondering at their complaint that they couldn’t figure out the characters’ motivations. This puzzles me: one of them wants to conquer the world, and the other wants to stop him – which I thought was obvious, but … I suspect that  I failed the cut partly was that they did express a preference for all stories submitted to have a vegan tone, and one of the main plot points in my story is beer; there is also mention of flocks and herds. My protagonist is a bit of a feminist, but it was not the right kind of PC, I think.

Still, their other points – while they need some puzzling out – may well be valid. Time to brainstorm a little with Kimberly, and then see what else can be done. It may well be I need to have someone actually say I am here to subjugate humanity! and have someone else respond Oh no you’re not, progeny of a deleted expletive! Subtlety can be overdone, after all.

In the meantime, though, I am driving an Impala. Writing is coming along, the Academy Awards are on tomorrow night, some more nice rain is maybe coming. I got a pretty new shower curtain, and subscribed to a fruit and vegetable delivery system. The little black cat is healing nicely, and can now gallop through the house toward her daily yogurt and fish oil dose more like a young panther than she has been in months.

So, little good things accumulate too. As Kage would advise, time to hold fast to warm slippers and purring cats and pizza in the offing; time to bask in the glow of sweaters, and beignets from Sprouts, and the wonderful ease of my new back-lit keyboard!

There are still a story, a novelette and novel out there with diverse editors. Who knows what will come in on the next tide?


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 Little Things

  1. Luisa Puig says:

    I would have thought that beer *was* vegan.
    Unless being vegan precludes the use of yeast, I suppose.
    But then, how could they justify bread?
    Oh dear, the world just keeps getting weirder and weirder to me.


    • Kate says:

      Well, alcohol is not really pure as a past-time. Many vegans I know dislike it. And the yeast does die. And of course, flocks and herds are not being kept for their company … but the notes about unclear motivation, those are helpful and usually valid. So, I win on points.


      • Kate says:

        Oh, and many vegans don’t eat bread – white flour is evil. If they do eat bread of any sort, it’s usually leavened with baking soda or some other non-organic leavening. Alas, I could not survive without bread, cheese, and ale – even if it’s small beer; I can’t abide soda pop! Flavoured water without sugar is my tipple, whether it’s tea or whiskey!


  2. Mindfump says:

    I am terrible at recieving advice or as i see it in my eyes, stabbing harsh criticism. Glad you’re feeling creative though, those can be rare moments. I am sure you will make the most of it!


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