Fangtastic Friday Welcomes Alayna Williams

Today, I am pleased to welcome Alayna Williams to Embrace the Shadows.  Alayna’s new release, Rogue Oracle, is a much-anticipated continuation of her Delphic Oracle series, which premiered with her first book,  Dark Oracle.  Alayna also writes as Laura Bickle, who we’ve hosted (with her salamanders) here in the past.  This time, I invited Alayna to provide a guest post, and she has graced us with a lovely tome about sacred spaces. 

Alayna Williams writes with power and poetry, combining old mythos with complete ass-kickery. You don’t want to miss this series.”

                 -National bestselling author Ann Aguirre


ROGUE ORACLE is available at and Barnes & Noble.

And now, Alayna Williams on Sacred Spaces…

When we think of sacred spaces for writing, we tend to think of desks, offices, rooms to close the door on the world and write. We consider the right computers to use, whether our chairs are comfy, whether we light candles or meditate beforehand. We obsess whether our desks are too messy or too clean, fiddle with the lighting, and try to extract the cat from the filing cabinet. 

Writing does exist in physical space, and I do recommend having a place of one’s own to write – whether it’s the corner of a guest bedroom, a favorite spot in a library or coffee shop, or at the kitchen table. Having physical space to write, where we honor what we do, serves as a prompt in our heads to write some more. What we fill our physical world with also stakes out corresponding real estate in our minds. We *are* what we surround ourselves with I know that when I finally made myself a desk at home to devote to writing, I became much more productive and spent more time behind the keyboard. 

Surrendering physical space to art, any kind of art, shows that we’re honoring what we do. It reminds us that writing is important enough to give it a nook or space of its own. That works its own psychological power on us. We have created a small temple for our work.

But a temple, no matter how beautifully-appointed or humble, is useless if it’s empty. 

That’s why sacred writing space also has another dimension: time. Time breathes life into a writing practice. And time is more scarce than carving out physical space. It’s difficult, because it’s slippery and fluid. Most people I know have computerized or physical day planners containing a never-ending list of “to-do’s.” And writing always seems to get shoved to the bottom, somewhere behind getting an oil change, the vet appointment, and assignments for the day job. Writing can, because it’s for *us,* and for *us alone*, can always be procrastinated another day. We tell ourselves that we can make up our word counts or the time on another day, and seldom do. There’s laundry, after all.

And we make it less sacred, shove it aside. Days and weeks and months pass, and we don’t make progress on our work.

Part of making writing a sacred practice involves ritual and repetition. There are many things in our lives that don’t get procrastinated: brushing one’s teeth, for example. The habit is so deeply ingrained and ritualized that it becomes automatic. We don’t even think about it. Exercise programs, for many people, are also ritualized. Many people are better at carving out time for workouts and socializing than they are at creating the time to write. It’s easier to keep a lunch date…because you’re accountable to someone else. Keeping promises to yourself is much harder. 

I’m not going to say that it’s easy. But we all have the same number of hours in a day, and must choose to make the most of them. Writing is just as much about muscle memory and habit as it is about inspiration. Butt-in-chair is the only way to succeed, and in order to do that, we’ve gotta treat it as a ritual…we have to repeat it, every day. And it becomes easier if we manage to do so at the same time each day, so that we fall into a habit.

Sometimes, it means giving things up. I’ve given up bellydance classes and a good deal of television to write. Other people I know get up in the cool hours of dawn, before their families, and write until their kids awaken. I’ve met people who’ve found a way to jot down notes on the bus or the subway on the way to work. I’ve scribbled away many, many lunch hours with a half-eaten sandwich beside me.

One key is to keep yourself accountable. I keep a separate day planner for writing goals. I bought a really lovely one with Celtic knot illustrations that’s a pleasure to open. I write down a goal every day and a time to work. I have monthly and weekly plans – breaking work down by chapters or revision stages. More often than not, I achieve my goals. Much of the hard work is in actually articulating what I want to accomplish in a realistic way…revising a chapter a day, writing a thousand words, outlining the back half of a story arc. Breaking big projects down into small bites works for me. I get a little thrill of accomplishment each time I can scratch something off my planner list. 

The important thing is that you do it. Just do it. Give time to the process. Give it some space. Don’t feel that you need to do it perfectly. Breathe some life into your writing practice.

Make sacred space, sacred time, that can’t be violated by the thousand other things you must do. For now, just do this one thing. And do it again. And again. Wash, rinse, repeat.

How about you? What do you do to honor your writing, to give it importance in your life?

More info on Alayna’s urban fantasy and general nerdiness is here:

She’s a proud member of Word Whores.

She’s at Facebook, and Fangs, Fur, and Fey.

4 Responses to “Fangtastic Friday Welcomes Alayna Williams”
  1. I long since made my office my sacred space. And when I say MY, that’s exactly what I mean. On the outside is a sign that says, “If the house isn’t on fire and you’re not bleeding, don’t come in.” Inside I have pictures of my foxhunting days, many of them painted by friends, and my stepchildren made a collage of my book covers that brightens up an entire wall. There’s a phone, but I usually don’t answer it. That’s what Voicemail is for. There’s a lot of poison ivy between my front walk and my front door (in the winter, I don’t melt the ice.) There are two large dogs between me and the front door. Oh, and did I mention that I belong to the NRA? If anybody can get in, they can try to see me. When friends tell me this isn’t normal, I say, “I know, I’m a writer.” LOL. This may not be exactly what you meant by creating a sacred space, but it works for me!

    • Miriam, I would LOVE to see a picture of your office!

      And sacred space, I think, is exactly that…it needs to be protected! I have a cat gargoyle looking over my shoulder as I type…and plenty of dragon art. That doesn’t seem to deter my feline posse from taking up residence here, though. 😉

  2. I know, what is it about cats and offices anyway? I usually have at least one draped in mine. Good luck with the books you create in your sacred space.

    • I have one who loves to sit in my lap while I type. It’s not the most ergonomically-correct arrangement.

      And I have another who *loves* to sit on notecards. When I have them neatly spread out for storyboarding, she’ll take a running slide and completely derail my train of thought.

      Thank you! Good luck to you, too. 🙂

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