Monday, March 17, 2014

Creating Sacred Space

While opinions often vary, and there is no one right way to follow this career path, I'm of the opinion that writers need their own space.  Whether it's a room with a spectacular view or one with no windows, blank walls or covered in inspirational art, a writer needs to have a place where the muse speaks to him or her.  I'm not saying you must consecrate your space with white sage and candles (but if you do, more power to you), but writers need to have a space all their own.  At least, I do.

For many, it's a particular end of the couch.  For others, it's the kitchen table.  I can't work in such conditions.  Nothing against those who can, it's just not for me.  When I write, I need quiet.  I need solitude.  I need to be left the hell alone so my creativity can jump from the ether to my heart, from my heart to my brain, from my brain to my fingers and from my fingers to the page.  I was fortunate enough to have someone who understood my need, and who indulged me by allowing me to stake out areas of the house and claim them as my "office."  And from day one, the moment my desk goes into the room, it belongs to me and me alone.  And my children, my friends, and anyone who ventures into my home knows that my writing room is holy ground to me.  It's a place where I can be me and entertain my most depraved thoughts without judgement.  A place where everything is where I put it, and where nothing is moved or added without my say-so.

Yes, for the record, I am aware that I sound like an egomaniacal bastard and an absolute nightmare with whom to live.  I accept that.  I don't feel it's true, but that's not the point of this article.

So what's in my sacred space?  What makes my office mine?  What makes my little room an area where the muse can speak to me?

First off, there's the door.  I can close it if I need to and I know no one will disturb me.  For me, a door is crucial to the solitude that I crave to get stories written.  Second, the walls are adorned with art by friends and family, certificates of accomplishment, gargoyles and hats.  I even have a pro-wrestling championship belt on one wall, with the Golden Crackpipe award (long story) on another.    I have a leather easy chair, which is usually occupied by Owen, and the great glass desk that I keep meaning to have replaced.   But the real secret to my office is in my shelves.

Oh, my shelves.  Keepers of arcane knowledge and inspiration the likes of which the world has never seen.  One shelf holds only books by me and by my friends and former students.  Another contains reference materials on witchcraft, ghosts, demons, monsters, and other religions.  But then, there are things that, to look at them, one wouldn't know what to think.  There are shelves in my office that contain memories from my adventures in writing and in life, things I've made and things that were given to me.  The top shelf contains real, honest to Legba, Mojo Bag, made by a vodoun priestess.  The shelf below contains candles, daggers, incense and a bottle of "Coffin Liquor," made by my dear Tabby and given to me.

And amid the other shelves and their contents of sonic screwdrivers, pro wrestling memorabilia, statues of Chaplain and Harpo and my hand-made replica of the Necronomicon (yes, really), there is a special shelf.  One that makes me smile whenever upon it I look.  On this shelf is a bottle of tears, an alligator's head, a venus fly-trap, a big-ass piece of candy corn, monster cars and innumerable other items that hold special meaning for me.  They are things given to me by former students.  Treasures that I hold more sacred than gold.  I look at each of them and I know from where they all came.  I know the names and the faces, and I draw inspiration from them.  My very first student, Betsy Whitt, gave me a miniature horse blanket, named "Horse Thrall."  It hangs on my wall just above my computer where I can see it when I look up.  Are there things I treasure more than others?  I'd be lying if I said no.  But every piece in the collection has a meaning for me, and every piece represents another person who touched my life and who pushes me on.  Every time I get knocked down, I picture them all doing their best impressions of Burgess Merideth, screaming "Get up, you son of a bitch!  Because Mickey loves you!"

And that's the point, I suppose.  My office, my sacred space, is a place that energizes me.  The ghosts of stories past and of stories yet to come live there, and when I am within her walls, they speak to me.  They speak only to me.  The things in this room mean nothing to anyone but me.  And so, for everyone else, it's just a room full of my junk that this old fool won't let anyone touch.  But to me, it's Wonderland.  It's my sacred space because in here, I can touch the gods.

Leave a comment.  Tell us about your sacred space.  Let us know how you work.


  1. Thanks for the inspiration. When I owned a house I had an office that I designed to put me in 'that mood' whatever I wanted it to be. I miss it. Now I have other things that I use, things I carry around with me and have in my small space. However, you made me realize that there aren't enough reminders of my accomplishments and goals, and maybe I need to get more of those visuals in front of me. Thank you.

  2. That's something I'm craving right now, is "the writer sacred space." My space is either at the family dinner table, which is usually covered with my writing gear, or out on the balcony, or in bed in the bedroom. Since we moved from a 4 BR house to a 2 BR apartment, finding space to focus is limited. Sometimes the coffee house is the best I can get. I'm envious of your space, and yet very happy that you have it. I can feel the magic of it in your words. Great post!