Ann Voskamp told me last fall that writing is an altar. I was walking her from one side of the Patrick Henry campus to the other after lunch. Someone had catered it. Chicken, I think, with rolls and asparagus. Uncomfortable duty, eating important food in public.
I wore a black dress and a string of pearls. But not in a good way. I meant it to be good, but it wasn’t. I got hot and my curls dissolved into frizz.
“Writing is an altar,” she said as we walked.
She seemed like a broken-hearted mystic who came from a genie bottle, with a face like a seashell with windows into the water. That, along with her clout and my own painful experience, compelled me to believe her.
The night before, knowing our meeting impended, I sat sandwiched in an upstairs corner of the Barbara Hodel Center reading A Thousand Gifts. I’ve never been punched in the gut, but I expect it feels something like reading the first chapter of A Thousand Gifts. Mrs. Voskamp’s altar stretches broad enough for both she and her reader to climb onto.
While I read, Dr. Olasky walked by. He commented on the coziness of my corner. I had shoved my body into it tight, between the two white walls beneath the window overlooking the lobby. To help me sit still.
“I’ve done the greatest acts of my life from this corner,” I explained.
It seemed true at the time. I have committed mad writer-acts in that corner, acts that made writing an altar for me. Acts of writing about people you know. Or, as Dr. Sillars put it to me recently, defecating in your own nest.
Dr. Olasky met this melodrama with a nod, and moved on.
Ann also told me to blog 2 hours every day. So here I am, R.S.V.Ping to another invitation to an altar.