Dylan in Taos

Dylan is a senior Hunt Leadership Scholar and David and Carolyn Miller Scholar. A member of the University Honors Program, he is majoring in English with a specialization in creative writing in Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences. He was named a Richter Fellow and Unbridled Learner for summer 2012, when he will be working on his first novel at SMU-in-Taos.

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Taos: Where time slows

This is Day Three of writing, and I am chugging away at a fantastic speed. My goal was to write 1,000 “good” words a day, and after two days, I am at 4,500, which is more than I could have hoped for. The narrative arc is beginning to take shape and it is exciting to see all of the pieces fall into place. One of the exciting things about writing is the moment when everything begins to fall into place; when you know exactly what needs to happen and when. So far, I have four chapters and am working on the fifth. I like to work through a story as linearly as possible, unlike others who like to write an ending first. When I write an ending first, I feel like I have boxed myself in, and the story has no room to grow and change. I know what I want to happen, but as my characters grow and change, so does the story. This tactic seems to be working and I am making significant progress every day.

The novel is (or will be) broken up into three different parts, with the first and last addressed to the father. The narrator will be speaking to his father. Below is a snippet from the opening chapter entitled “We Built this Home”…

 

You are an old withered man who walked through our old home and told this son how this stunning waterfront property has five bedrooms and three baths, with a guest room that looks out onto the murky sea. You didn’t see. The lanai by the guest bedroom is great for company, you said, and this house has character; it has history. This house has our history but history is forgotten and then misremembered. You never saw, would never see, and I know it. You are dead but this old withered man is still here in your place. There is a ghost inhabiting your floppy skin, waving your arms, and speaking unfamiliar words with a familiar voice. Sometimes your face contorts and I can faintly see the “you I knew” grappling for control of your familiar features. It was a face I had traced with my eyes many times before, but it was a face that had changed, different in the way only a child would question, like feeling the freshly shaven skin of where a mustache had once been and asking, why?

 

I have spent a grand total of five days in Taos and I do not know if I ever want to leave. Everything runs on a different pace here and it reminds me of the relaxed/unhurried attitude of my home. Home for me is Hawaii, which, if you have ever been, runs on a different clock. The numbers on a traditional analog clock usually have the suffix “ish” attached, which infuriates or excites many of our visitors. It is a pace that I have missed and I have fallen back into it with ease. This is not to say that time in Hawaii, or Taos, is lazy, but rather it is relaxed. Unhurried is really the best word. Deliberate, maybe?

For my writing, this kind of clock is the best kind of clock. While discipline, which I talked about in my last post, is necessary, the “ish-time” (as I like to call it) keeps me relaxed. I have no commitments, other than to myself and to my writing, which is liberating and invigorating. I have gone white-water rafting and mountain biking. I have done Pilates, which left my abdominals in a twisted knot, and enjoyed the company of some “OK” people. I have done all of this without having a commitment until June 28, when I hop on a plane back to Dallas AND I have written more than twice the word count I had planned on.

This place is awesome. It is different than any other place I have lived. Dallas and Kailua, Hawaii, are polar opposites, black and white. Dallas is hot and southern. Hawaii is not and far eastern (as I like to think). Now, imagine that somehow there was a color that was the opposite of both black and white and vice versa. Let’s say that this color would be called glurble. That color would be Taos. Dallas, Hawaii, and Taos are black, white, and glurble. Taos and Hawaii may run on the same time but the taste, smell, and attitude of the place and of people here is unique. No, I did not lick or sniff any local Taosites… It is a saying, people.

With that, I leave you. I am 877 words into my second day and we haven’t even hit lunch yet. It’s fanTAOStic. (I am sorry but I had to do that. It was an awful joke and I apologize. I will make up for it next blog.)

P.S. If you are looking for an interesting read, check this New Yorker article out.

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