Lily Iona MacKenzie's Blog for Writers & Readers


A Writer’s Sanctuary

From inside my study, one wall book-lined, the other holding a large mirror that makes the room appear bigger, I sit on the loveseat, listening to Strauss and the waterfall powered by a tiny electric pump. When I’m home, I turn it on, the sound of water like a heart beat in this house, a tangible reminder of what usually is invisible, at least to waking life—water for me representing the unconscious and all that lives there.

I come to this sanctuary at the center of the house, separated from the master bedroom by French doors, to be alone, as much as one can be alone in a shared space. Images that trigger happy memories or just please me fill the walls and shelves: a canal in Venice, that watery city I love; a blackened white porcelain female figure holding a dove aloft that my sister had given me (it survived my house fire of many years ago); a print of an Emily Carr painting, the night and forest appearing eerie and alive; twisted pieces of driftwood; a small rock from the Acropolis; and a picture of my sister and me taken a few years back outside the remains of our barn on the Langdon farm.

My husband jokingly accuses me of conducting secret rites in my study after he goes to sleep, lighting candles, doing “witchy” things. To him, a Freudian analyst and an English professor, I’m sure that much of what I do with dreams and in Jungian analysis appears esoteric. Strange. Mystifying.

For me, this room acts as a conduit to my deeper self. My laptop is in here where I record my dreams, store my journals, and write poetry as well as fiction and nonfiction. I also have a table set up with watercolors and other art materials, ready to collect colors and shapes from the unconscious that choose to surface in this way.

Do others have this kind of sanctuary in their homes? It seems essential in order to tolerate the craziness of the external world.


4 thoughts on “A Writer’s Sanctuary

  1. Cat

    Your sanctuary sounds like a calming and powerful place. IDo you know, in the tradition of the Northwest Coast natives, water is very sacred. It is cleansing for the spirit.

  2. I don’t have a personal sanctuary like you describe but I agree that it is essential to find space to open a vent to the unconscious. I crave space and time to be alone and without it I feel like I am drifting without an anchor. It is interesting that you use a laptop for poetry – my best poems begin life at the end of a pencil.

    1. Actually, I often write first drafts of both poetry and prose with a pen and then transfer it to the computer for revising! I know how hard it can be to find time and space when you’re raising a family, as I was doing with Michael’s step children in the early years of our relationship. Where are you now with the manuscript you were working on? Ciao from Bogliasco!

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