be sure to check out Joan's latest on her website:

be sure to check out Joan's latest on her website: (usually she updates her blog every Sunday evening but she can and will surprise you) **Special Note: all of Joan's archives are now up--almost ten years of 'bitter girl.' As Joan says, go wild!**

Friday, September 4, 2009

The Beach

Dateline: Beautiful Palm Beach Gardens in sunny South Florida. Subject: The beach. Reality: It's crummy today outside. All overcast and no sun--maybe even some rain later. Not a good day for the beach. Normally this would mean for me walking at the nearby mall, as in The Gardens Mall, but I'm still holding out hope for tomorrow at the beach. And this is Labor Day weekend--all three days--traditionally the last big blowout of the summer. Now that summer's soon to be officially over, maybe I can get an e-mail back from a literary agent that I've queried about my book. But only if they're interested. In the old days, you'd spend however much on postage and get at least a rejection slip back for your trouble. Now you don't even get that.
Allow me to clarify--during the summer and the holidays, the publishing world grinds to a halt--or so I've been told. School's out and people scatter hither and yon, to the four winds as it were, until the fall. This is how it's been explained to me. That is why I have been using this time to edit the book and the sequel. I am still doing that, however now things have gotten to the point where I am not finding any mistakes, simply better word choices. Polishing, which is just as important as the creating, only not nearly as much fun or rewarding.
But back to the beach. Where I go is called Singer Island, which is not really an island but a peninsula, but it looks like an island when you drive to it and that sounds better, so anyway. It was named for the same family that founded the Singer Sewing Machine Company but what actual connection they have to this place eludes me.
I have been going for sixteen years now. When I first started, after finishing my first book in 1993, I could walk on the beach for one hour and twenty minutes. Now I walk from Ocean Reef Park up past the Juno Pier, back to my car for a light fruit lunch, and down to the inlet and back again to the park. This takes me anywhere from seven to over eight hours, depending on how many breaks I take and whether or not I run and for how long.
As I mentioned previously, I also now have a camera and take along my tripod. The tripod is only three pounds but for that long, it starts getting heavy after a while. However, certain shots are just about impossible without it, so it has become a necessary evil.
I go to the beach to get some sun, to chill out and have some quiet time. I also do it for the exercise and to give me some time away from the computer to go over the book, certain scenes that I like and some that I don't. Sometimes I get ideas there, and sometimes I don't, as occasionally I do socialize, as I did with Klara. Sometimes I talk to the girls from the turtle place who scoot up and down the beach on their ATVs, some of whom are more interesting than others, but that is another story. Sometimes I take pictures when something strikes my fancy, as with the baby sea turtles. But mostly what I go to do is observe other people having fun.
Contrary to what anyone may have seen on television or at the movies, fiction is all characterization. Any fool can do plot, and many fools have. If I sound harsh, then I suppose I am. Everyone works in his or her own way and this is how I work.
Also my first agent kept telling me that if the book does get picked up, the way things are nowadays, the publisher wasn't going to do anything and I was going to have to do everything to promote the book, including personal appearances. So I started thinking on my own, well, if I'm going to be seeing people in public and talking about the book, maybe it would be a good idea to get into shape while I can. That was ten years ago. Now the means have become an end in themselves, as along the way I've gotten addicted to exercise and how good it feels. Also I've learned how to cook so that I what I eat is healthy.
I walk on the beach three times a week, weather permitting--Saturday, Sunday and Wednesday. I like this schedule. I hope I can keep it.

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