We ended a two week hiking trip in the miraculous Four Corners with a stay at the Burch Street Casitas in Taos and it was the perfect transition. Not transition back to a day job but transition from being primarily an observer of Native American culture and the natural wonders of the desert back to being a writer and interpreter of experience.
I know many writers go to writer's colonies and retreats to put the finishing touches on their novels or collection of poetry--- that's never appealed to me. I like the sense of being at home...in a space I've made my own; a place where I can make my tea or a meal, flop down outside on a porch w/a novel to distract me from my book or take a walk to an active village square and be reminded of the bustle---but not be overwhelmed by it.
Burch Street Casitas was that place for me. It was great to be in a beautiful space that was clearly designed with love and I kept thinking...I'd come here to write! It had just enough space to make it feel like home but not so much that I could distract myself too long. I imagined my laptop at the dining table and me finishing my new play about James Baldwin just before I walked to the square for a coffee at the shop that had two signs in the window: 'Taos Gay Pride' and 'Bikers Always Welcome.' Or beginning the first draft of my new "Gilda" novel...only in the morning, of course, since it's way too stressful to write vampire stories at night. Especially a night so richly full of stars as in New Mexico.
New Mexico in general and Taos in particular seemed to have room for a lot for artists; this was an added gift. Maybe some folks think there are too many 'trinkets' to buy. I found it exciting to be in a place where people with an artistic impulse had an outlet for their creativity. More than any place I've ever been...including NYC and San Francisco...the place of the artist (traditional or contemporary) seemed secure.
Many people speak of the Four Corners as having a mystical aura. I felt that; those who've gone before have left an electric kind of energy. I looked around me and could see what George O'Keefe saw; it raised the hairs on my arm as if she herself were pointing them out. And taking a day trip to the town where she worked, Abiquiu, is not a distraction; it's an inspiration. The pueblo designed buildings did more than imitate the homes that had housed Pueblo tribes for thousands of year. They were an invocation to the ancient ones to stay with us; to help us see the land as they had. The see the clear link between art and the economic life of a town may be too commercial for some; to me it was a sign that said 'come and create!'
For a writer to finding a place to feel secure, encouraged, expansive and cozy at the same time is sometimes not that easy. I'm wondering if I might find my way back out to the Burch Street Casitas as I pull into the homestretch with this darn play??!!!!