A Peaceful Weekend in Arkham

Kage Baker was a firm believer that the world needed to be shut out from time to time.

Mind you, by from time to time, she usually meant round the clock. However, even Kage admitted that the world needed to be noticed some of the time, if only to make its periods of  purdah more noticeable. If Kage could have found a way to make the world aware she was shutting it off, that would have made her even happier. Maybe it would have made the world behave better.

I have, the last couple of weeks, been abstaining from social media. I’m never on it much, but I had developed a moderately serious Facebook addiction. It started out, as these things so often, so deceptively do, as a way to keep track of my friends – we’re not only getting older, we’ve had a rough life so far; people tend to drop dead suddenly in my circle. Something to do with spending 30 years living part-time in pre-Industrial Revolution societies, I suspect. Anyway, when politics was minding its manners and the country wasn’t trying to saw its own head off with the cutting strip from a tinfoil box, I checked in once a day and all was well. I even shared a few jokes, admired photos of grandchildren and pot roasts, did all the ordinary FB things. It took about 15 minutes a day. It was nice.

When I realized that I was spending 6 hours a day on FB and/or following up stories from FB – and that I longed more and more for a meteorite to strike me – I finally saw I had a problem. I turned off the feed. I increased the time I spent on sites like Smithsonian and Scientific American, and began doing more writing research. And, within a few days, I was writing more as well. And sleeping. And not having chest pains. And not praying to the meteor gods to reach and touch me with their chondrite-y appendages.

More people suddenly began following this blog, too. I had expected fewer, but that’s not what happened.

I did take Easter weekend off, just to read and eat chocolate. It  was delightful. As I hope everyone else’s weekend was, as well. I celebrate Easter more as a non-denominational Spring holiday, but my appreciation of returning life and the Risen Young Lord are sincere, albeit non-Christian. Your basic  vegetation deities are always admirable. And so is chocolate.

Along the way, I finished a tiny, tiny story – the shortest short story I have ever written – and submitted it to a tiny, tiny online magazine. We shall see what happens, but it is a personal record as it is a quite nice little piece and the first short-short story I have ever managed. I have this verbosity problem …

I also have several currently-accepting magazines and anthologies of which I have received notice, and lo! An idea sprang at once into my mind as I read over the requirements. It’s not the same as being invited, but it’s a rare phenomenon to find one’s self afire with an idea so suddenly. It does need some research, but that can be fun, too.

In service of that research, these last few days, I have been occupying my spare time re-reading the entire oeuvre of the inestimable H. P. Lovecraft. I know the gentleman has recently come under serious criticism for failing to be other than a product of his time and upbringing – but I think I can resist the temptation to adopt either his loathsome racial prejudices or his weird theories on the antediluvian religions … not to mention his run-on sentences and atmosphere of damp hysteria. However, even weighted with those weaknesses, one cannot deny that Lovecraft could really, really write.

I should probably stop reading them late at night, though. “The Color Out of Space” still gives me the serious willies; you’d think I’d learn. It’s not a good idea to read that story at 2 AM, in a house where (one desperately hopes) there are raccoons scratching around on the roof in the darkness … but I always seem to be reading that one at night, somehow. “The Dunwich Horror” however, is more enthralling every time I read it; although I must admit to a sneaking feeling of pity for poor Wilbur Whately. When you come right down to it, he’s a good boy – a pious youth, respectful of his elders (he he he), sincere about his studies, determined to carry out his family obligations. His poor brother, who endures an abusive childhood before his unspeakable demise, is also an object of more pity than I remember being able to summon in my teens. Maybe it’s getting older that changes one’s viewpoint on these things.

Or maybe unwholesome influences are creeping out of the darkened corners of my room as I lie sleepless in the infernal reddish light of my Kindle … because, of course, per the best modern eldritch lore, I’m using the blue light filter on my screen to ward off insomnia.

Life is weird. But at least it doesn’t have to be horrible and weird; one always has Kage’s option of retreating to a private world where one can work.  And, at this point, reading Lovecraft in bed at night is proving less noxious than following politics. Which really proves that truth is weirder than fiction, I guess.

All I know is, I’m writing every day. And some things are worse company than shoggoths.



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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5 Responses to A Peaceful Weekend in Arkham

  1. Luisa Puig says:

    Yes, I am also taking (another) hiatus from the “Opiate of the Phospher Fire,” though I admit it is proving to be a challenge. Thank heavens for your lovely blog, which I love for all its verbosity. I find each entry has at least a few (if not a boat load) of wonderful terms that I had either never heard before, or had forgotten amid my lost wanderings through the AetherWoods online. I love looking up each and every tasty verbal tidbit and then try using them in a sentence immediately.

    And last week, you had me reviewing the lovely poetry of Yates, and that sent me on a really happy weekend of allusions, metaphors, and all kinds of juicy musings. Thank you so much for that.

    In the meantime, I noticed in today’s BBC News (April 17, 2017), an article that references this strange Internet phenomenon, and discusses various theraputic schemes now being used in England. http://www.bbc.com/capital/story/20170417-the-addiction-thats-worse-than-alcohol-or-drug-abuse

    Of course, this cultural distraction has already been mentioned by you also in the past couple of weeks, where more and more folks are feeling more and more adrift on this unnatural visual noise, to the point where the use of anti-depressants is very widespread, indeed.

    Well, thank you for providing insightful, intelligent reading that leads to more intellectual growth, or at least a more healthful diet of grazing on good writing. I think I’ll wander over to ye olde bookshelves and see what tomes of HP Lovecraft have been patiently lurking in the dark corners of either the Farm House, or (better yet) perhaps inside the Barn (!!!). I’ll try and keep my reading to the daylight hours … (but no promises, eh? )


    • buggybite says:

      I did have to laugh at the last line of the linked BBC article on dealing with curbing social media addiction: “To comment on this story or anything else you have seen on BBC Capital, please head over to our Facebook page or message us on Twitter.” 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    • Kate says:

      It’s the “Press the button, Max!” mindset – even at the BBC. We tend to forget that life isa not actually compolsed entire of macros and emoticons.


  2. Kate says:

    Luisa – it’s like there was a sewage spill in the shallows of the information sea, and I must curtail my paddling for a little while. The difference in my outlook is amazing! It can’t be entirely due to the ridiculous amount of chocolate I ate this Easter … though that may well have helped. But, my gosh, I do feel better lately!


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