Writing Life: How is YOUR Writing Sanctuary?


by Raymond Alexander Kukkee

"Time is Broken"

“Time is Broken”  photo © 2009 by rakukkee


“It has special meaning, for it suggests and proves that imperfection can lead to exotic beauty and perfection that is unique.”


Where do YOU write? Is your ‘writing space’ only for writing, not to be used for any other purpose? Do you allow, or abhor visitors, disturbances, or distractions?  Is that writing area a sanctuary of the muse? I have my own way of looking at the writing sanctuary.

How is YOUR writing sanctuary?

It seems to me the sanctity of a writer’s work area is only as good as the sanctity of the mind that is working within that area.
Clutter, old books, wonky handmade ceramic mugs full of pointy 4B pencils that are too soft to write anything without smudging, and 14 -year-old road maps with cracks where the folds are– don’t phase me.

Plants that need watering, broken rolling card indexes with dusty plastic covers, a set of orange ceramic ducks,  golden pups– which were old Christmas presents. Old, broken, dysfunctional printers –none of these things actually detract from the process or stop one from writing, they merely influence a mind seeking distraction and encourage the manufacture of excuses and complaining .

That process draws much energy ; energy that could be spent writing peacefully, creatively, and thoughtfully. Avoidance of creative work at all costs is easier with distracting stuff to complain about. Visitors to my writer’s work area fall in the same category. Just a distraction, but not a refraction or deletion of viewpoint. I’ll explain why.

I’ve always thought it would be a good idea to be much neater and better organized in my writing nook than I am, and I can even see the benefit of doing so, if that rule was included in the first chapter of “Limitations of Creativity and How to Avoid Them”, seventh edition. If that book was to exist, that is…perhaps I should write it.
I could even be persuaded to go along with that. Straighten up the place, water the plants, throw out the ceramic ducks. Put locks on the inside of the doors, or perhaps in some cases, they would be better placed on the outside after you get in there. Ding-ding-ding-ding...Well, okay, I’ll admit that’s a digression, a red herring,  bait for anyone paying attention . Comparative data is available. Never mind that for now.

Some people need to be sanctified. I hereby declare that from now on, it is important to be holy and free of clutter in your work space, but leave mine alone. Tell you what.  You can sit silently and gaze at your barren walls and blank sheet of paper alone, with no extra, interesting stuff to look at, and you may even find yourself free and unburdened by the presence of other people visiting and watching every word you write, —if you choose to be an island .

If it works for you, do it. It won’t work for me.

I think it may be more important to simply discard you own personal baggage of the mind; the worry, thoughts of taxes, doom, high gasoline prices, weeds in the garden, bad weather, and aching feet. The sanctity of anything evaporates pretty quickly when you are worried to death  or in pain, so here’s a hint, practice gloom if you insist, but try merriment sometime. You might like it, as you you sit nice and sanctified in your cubbyhole, office, or a dark hole in the ground with a Tootsie pop clamped tightly between your teeth, muttering about how to spell “sanctity” and make the next payment on the laptop.

Where you choose to write, and how you choose to write, is quite a personal issue. How you choose to feel about it is also personal. If it’s on a two-thousand dollar laptop you can’t really afford while being paid pennies per day, there’s a forum on reality right next to the forum on the sanctity of writing space you should look at.

By the way, they’re talking about scrapping the penny, yet again, what then? Will they have to pay us in nickels? I can see it now, I may even be able to move up to HB pencils. Let’s go all the way and get 2H.  Whoa, yet another distraction.  See what happens?

On the wall in my writing space I have a broken clock that works.  I call it “Time is Broken’.  I made it.   It is a stoneware ceramic plate with a lot of fancy little clock parts. It is a deep-dished, unglazed reddish stoneware piece almost reminiscent of Bizen ware, a famous type of Japanese pottery. The clock has a huge crack in it that extends from the rim between three o’clock and four o’clock, then makes a sharp turn toward the middle where the clock mechanism appears. It was supposed to be a Bonsai pot originally, that’s why there was a hole in the middle, but now it has golden hands growing there- and large numbers to make it easier to read with tired, burned-out computer vision.

I did not break it, I did not cause the crack when I took it out of the ceramic kiln, it cracked all by itself later from stress, -in the clay, that is, –within the sanctity of my work area. It has special meaning, for it suggests and proves that imperfection can lead to exotic beauty and perfection that is unique.
Coincidentally, it also has shadows on it, as genuine Bizen ware does; that would be from my foolishly piling test ceramic blocks on it when it was being fired, of course, a slight error in judgment and procedure.  A mistake. The point is, it now has shadows. Interesting shadows. Magic depositions of influence. Shadows that influence the sanctity of my writing work area.

People that visit my writing sanctuary are like those shadows. They inspire, make designs on the essence of the soul, and yes, they do change my work at times.
Ah!”, you say, ” “so people and things plunked in your work place do bother you!”
Yes, but the functional imperfection resulting also inspires and promotes perfection, for it allows me to be imperfect and happy while I practice to become better. It takes work and inspiration and happiness; it takes peace and contentment and shadows. Knowing yourself is one of the greatest assets a writer can have. An imperfect sanctity, an imperfect sanctuary.

Now there’s the point. The reality of a sanctuary–of a writer’s work area –is all in the mind.


Is that Incoming I hear?


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12 Responses to Writing Life: How is YOUR Writing Sanctuary?

  1. Crystal Ray says:

    My writing sanctuary is far from perfect. On my left is a stack of magazines, a book and a couple of folded coupons. Oh… and there’s a wadded up gum wrapper too. On my right is a slightly crumpled short stack of sticky notes. The note on top is old news. My most prized piece of tabletop clutter is a little blue heart that my daughter made. It says, “I <3 U" in black marker. I can't throw that away. I write at a coffee table on the floor in front of a TV. It's where I'm the most creative. I wouldn't want to sit at the kitchen table or a traditional desk. This is my sanctuary, and I love it. Great article, Ray. I love it!

    • Hi, Crystal, thank you for the wonderful comments. I REALLY LOVE the description of your writing sanctuary…the kids are helpful aren’t they? Piles of sticky notes with little drawings on them…are worth saving. We do that too…save every one of them. I believe the little notes are subliminal hints about what we are supposed to write! Everything has a purpose…The old notes are to remind us of what we didn’t do, the black marker stands out, doesn’t it? Sounds like you have a wonderful little writer helping you out…good thing! Nothing like a sanctuary that REALLY works. It is all in the mind… I enjoyed your comments, this made me smile, Crystal! Have a wonderful New Year too! ~R

  2. I often write in bed at night. That is when my mind wanders and comes up with all sorts of ideas. I make mind maps and write out choice things I think of when half asleep. If I wait, I can’t remember what my idea was.

    I have a desk for my laptop and there is where I rewrite extensively. So easy to move, add to, delete, add subheads, etc. Also to get links to relevant web sites on the subject.

    Never any peanut butter or cup rings on the Internet, and I always know where to find it. Old school and new school blended. It’s great. Wish the pay was great too.

    • JoAnn, when I lay awake at night, the ideas keep coming. Invariably, I make a mistake and think “oh, yes, I’ll remember that”….and in the morning I cannot remember for the life of me what that great idea was. I have taken to writing in the dark…not very well, but a few words to remind me. It works. My ‘sanctuary’ has to be wherever the mind is–distractions or not, cup rings on the paper or not. I, too wish the pay was better for being so creative. Thanks for visiting, and have a wonderful and prosperous New Year! ~R

  3. John Evans says:

    Wonderfully and Masterfully written Raymond!! I always have wondered why I am not organized,i.e. paperwork everywhere, books, camera equipment, a workbench with carving tools, etc, you get the idea.

    This article enthused me to be better at what I write. From the truth of a humble heart may come the tears of silence.

    “When love and skill work together expect a masterpiece.” John Ruskin ~

    You have written a brilliant commentary on the sanctuary of what a real (genuine), writer is all about.

    Thank You for allowing me the privilege.

    • John, I must thank YOU for the wonderful commentary. Paperwork, books, notes woodcarving tools, lathe parts, sawdust–and many sharp pencils and endless papers with bits and pieces, phone numbers and drawings/sketches add to my clutter. I do know the feeling. “Organized, what’s that?” comes to mind.
      I must note that such praises are very special coming from a poet/writer of your unusually high calibre. You, John, have made my day.
      I do attempt to write in ‘literary fashion’ at times, but invariably end up with ordinary day-to-day results instead of polished jewels. I, too, must practice. “Wonderfully and masterfully written” and “a brilliant commentary” are comments I shall treasure forever, John…thank you. ~R

  4. Crystal Ray says:

    Where are you most often when you come up with article ideas? I’m not usually in my writing sanctuary. My ideas randomly come to mind, and I don’t know where they’re coming from. This is funny, but many of my ideas come to mind while I’m in the shower. Don’t ask me why, but for some strange reason, the white noise seems to generate ideas. I’ve often thought that it would be nice to have a waterproof memo pad. If I don’t write the ideas down, I usually forget them. They end up going down the drain along with the soapy water.

    • Crystal, that’s a question nobody’s really asked before—my ideas pop up almost anywhere,sometimes when I’m doing mundane, repetitive work, that’s when the best dialogue shows up. Interestingly, the sound of water running in our little creek also does make me stop and think, it can be a very calming effect, which relaxes the mind. Maybe that’s why the shower ‘white noise’ works? By the way, you can get waterproof notebooks, go to an outdoors supply store, you know,the hiking/backpacking type of outdoor supply. Then the ideas won’t go down the drain with the soapy water. Thanks for bringing that topic up–I’ll try to pay more attention to when and where ideas occur. “:) Happy New Year!

  5. Ack, you remind me I need to clean this room around me. I tend to have a lot of paper as I have many ideas and never seem to have enough time to expand on them. I wish you a wonderful New Year dear friend!

    • Ah, Christyb, that’s exactly the way it works..I tend to have piles of little papers, notes, notebooks that are supposed to take the place of all those little notes and scraps of paper, now I have a pile of little notebooks too….go figure….I wish you a Happy New Year too, dear friend!

  6. Uncluttered, neat, and organized are all boring words that describe boring rooms. How the heck could I write in something like that?

    I love my clutter of tools, pictures, plants and the view out my window (which shows me a cluttered world) and it is from here that I write write and then write some more.

    My writing sanctuary is not so much an office as an escape to imaginary places, times and characters, or an encyclopedia of facts centered between my ears. Visitors are welcome as long they don’t touch the clutter or try to clean up.

    Keep writing,

    • Mike, your sanctuary sounds very much like mine.”It’s got stuff to look at” and touch and look for. It has clipboards, old prospecting tomes, books that repair anything, prospecting reports, ceramic ducks, woodcarvings, maps, and an incredible number of pens, pencils,somehow all dull, geometric drawing triangles, rulers, clineometer, computer with two screens, a hand held anemometer, compasses,a metal detector (a hand held treasure-finder that beeps when I put it next to the brain), books on everything from ceramics, bees and mushrooms, black powder technology to psychology, power, wind, solar, water power, and building stone houses –ad infinitum. Visitors help with the overall joy of clutter.
      Somehow it seems like your office might have migrated to my place somehow.

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