My desk faces three windows with deep windowsills that have become, over time, shrines to this writing life. Living in a community of numerous studio artists, most of my friends have similar places in their homes. Picture bulletin boards in a potter’s studio, a gallery owner with a kitchen cabinet full of ceramic mugs (each with a story), or a blacksmith with a manhole cover collection. No matter the medium, it seems all artists have small collections of items in their homes and studios that remind them of their true calling.
The central window of my “shrine” is perhaps most revealing, as it lays to bare my deepest aspirations and connections. Items include: Andew Bird paraphernalia, ticket stub from train ride in Alaska (where I met the engineer, god help me), hunks of mica from Fork Mountain day hikes, and a handblown glass replica of the moon, among other things.
The windowsill directly behind my computer and the one I stare at most naturally, serves as an ode to writing friends and mentors who inspire me. A card from Wesley in the shape if Virginia Wolf, clamshell “angel’s wings” from Jan, a Valentine from Britt, an Alaska postcard from Cam, lavender from Loy, and my grandfather’s Daily Register calendar (1979). Several quotes are taped to the window, including: “Write with precise abandon.”
The windowsill to the far right houses two distinct stacks of paper: “Rejections” and “Acceptances.” Totalled, they add up to about ½ ream of paper, with rejections in only a slight lead.
As I pack my shrine in anticipation of one year on the road, I can’t help but wonder. What does an artist’s shrine say about him or her? Does it tend toward the nostalgic or the obsessive? The future or the antique? Is it meant to comfort or provoke thought?