Notice I didn’t say set a novel. I set the novel partly in Pismo Beach, mostly in Visalia. Why, because it just seems to be working its way out there.
I was so fortunate to have beautiful weather while I was in Avila. My writing schedule was fantastic. I crawled out of bed around 7:00 a.m. and made coffee, checked emails, and my blog. By 9:30 I finished housekeeping chores, and walked 3 miles to Avila Beach. I was stranded there without a vehicle because Vince came home to be with his son, but I was close to everything I needed.
To get to Avila by foot there is a three-mile long bike path called Bob Jones Trail. I have written about that before, so I won’t bore you with details. I did see three coyotes on my walks this time. This was a holiday weekend, so the path was crowded over the weekend, but that made it all the more interesting. By this time I had run out of clothes, so I had to start wearing Vince’s shirts. One day I wore his Shelby t-shirt and two men stopped walking and looked at me. “I love your shirt,” One of them said. Getting a t-shirt compliment is really rare for me, so I was pleased. He continued, “My name’s Shelby.” That explained the compliment, and we went on our separate and opposite ways.
The Bob Jones Trail winds around the San Luis Creek, which empties into the San Luis Bay at Avila Beach. The trail also borders the Avila Bay Golf Course. It crosses the creek at the west end of the golf course where men have a 130 yard span to hit their golf ball across the creek, and we can watch it all from the bridge. Birds watch them every day from their stadium seats.
Once you get into the town, you only have one block to get to the beach. When I taught 4th grade we brought our students to this beach after we took them to the San Luis Obispo Mission. Many of our Woodlake students had never been to the beach before that time. There is an adorable park, and an aquarium on the right as you walk up a steep block to the beach.
I would estimate that I walked about a mile on the beach, maybe more. Dogs can be on the beach until 10:00, then it is for human consumption only. Humans have a great time. Little ones experience the water for the first time. One mother looked like she was using the beach for her tiny tot’s modeling debut. Birds put on their own show. They found some raw bird meat, and one bird carried around some tail feathers in his mouth. Most of the time I walked and got my feet wet, I was dreaming up scenes for my characters.
By 12:30 to 1:30 I returned to our trailer, and began writing. It took about 2 to three hours to write a chapter. I would break, after completing the chapter, and walk around the park for a few minutes. I rarely ate too much dinner except maybe a bag of potato chips – yum! Then I would write the second chapter.
The end of my interesting day came usually around 9:30 or 10:30. There is a wonderful spa in the park that no one but me used. It’s big enough to swim in and do exercises if you are ambitious and have no one to talk to. I did less talking on this trip that I have probably ever done in my life. Vince asked me if I was lonely, and surprisingly, I wasn’t. I guess my characters kept me company. Two of the three women are very much in love, but they are having problems, some of them pretty serious ones. The other woman is taking stock of her life, and facing some very difficult decisions and life changes.
So that was my experience as a full-time writer. Doesn’t it sound like fun? It was!
Here are some more pictures of Avila Beach.