Little Writing Altars

by Amy Turn Sharp


Sometimes we just become religious. Well, I mean spiritual.

Accidentally spiritual. About writing.

I had tried to make a meditation altar back in the 90's. I went out and purchased all sorts of shit from the hippie head shop. I bought incense cones and oils and silk scarves and wrote the Bhagavad Gita on my body in black ink. I tried to quiet my mind with chants and rolled my thick body into yoga poses. But mostly I just smoked camel lights and listened to Nirvana in front of it while I cried fat tears over some boy. I just had it for show. It looked great in my apartment. I was indie before indie was indie. I was just cool and weird and very well read. I knew that my altar meant something. Just not to me.

But later. All these years later, I have accidentally created an altar. An altar to my writing and my spirit and my dreams. It all started when my gran gave me her old dresser type furniture piece a few years back. It had been my writing cabinet as a child. It has two swing out doors and I made a career out of being a paper good pusher as a child. It served as a bank or a store or a writing salon for all of my childhood. I can smell the onions sizzling in the kitchen and hear the tea kettle scream as gran would cook dinner as I would play. The letters and index cards and the gummy lick strip of the envelopes. I can hear her humming and talking on the phone, telling her friends about what adventures I was creating that day. She would say I had this amazing imagination. She would whisper loudly about how much she loved me. Her words pushing into me, creating the armor that I still have against the black cold world now. She loved me. But mostly she loved my creative spark.

And so the big wooden thing sits in my living room now. It's lovely and it holds all of the books that my children love. I started listening to all of the organizing magazines and dedicated the top of the dresser to my keys and my cell phone. This is big step. I have been known to stuff all of that and more in my bra. I have just learned to carry a wallet in the last year. I am a bit of a wreckful organizer. I am a creative. Anyways, I have watched myself slowly bring other items to the top of that dresser. Talismans. Collections. Pieces of childhood. Camera. Book. Pen. Words. All of the sudden one morning I realized that I collected myself there at sunrise. It was the place that I started my day. And often the place where I ended my day. My tea cup would sit for hours there. My hands would dip through all of the random items that I had brought and placed in the wooden bowls. I would light a candle or turn on the light and just think. Right there. It is five steps from the door. Steps from the wicked wild world. It is pause. It is yoga for the mind. I reach and twist and manipulate memories when I finger my old dolls, the letters from you. The money and stones from lands long far back. The collection of my writing world. I have been collecting you for so long.

 

Altars. I am like an evangelical looney. I have altar calls to this big old hunk of wood that never knew it meant so much to me. I feel like going down on my knees. I want to convert you.

Make an altar for your writing if you don't have one. 

But you very well may have one.

You just have to give it a name.