By Debby Giusti
Each summer, my family and I vacation at the beach. Last week, we stayed at Crystal Beach, on the outskirts of Destin, Florida, where the water is sparkling clear and the white sand is silky soft. I have three adult children and four adorable grandchildren so we need a large condo with a pool. Because the beach is our happy place, my husband and I rent waterfront accommodations that provide spectacular views from sunup to sunset.
The adults get up early and enjoy coffee on the balcony. Some days we see dolphin frolicking in the waves and dark patches of fish swimming in large, undulating schools. Pelicans and seagulls fly overhead, then dive into the water for their morning meal. From our lofty perch, we watch fishing vessels with huge nets and private chartered boats head out to sea while fisherman on the shore cast their lines, hoping for a good catch.
Once the children are up and fed, we don our suits and sunscreen and head to the beach with chairs and umbrellas and inner tubes and floats to spend the day enjoying the sun, sand and water.
If you were following the news last week, you heard about Tropical Storm Barry that blew into the Gulf. By Wednesday afternoon, the waves were rough and eventually strong enough to force us out of the water. We scurried to the pool but kept watch on the rising surf and encroaching storms.
Thursday morning, the beaches were closed and double red flags alerted beachgoers to stay out of the water. The pool provided lots of fun for the little ones in between intermittent rain showers. When inclement weather moved us indoors, we played cards and board games. Being together made the week special in spite of the storms.
The local lifeguards provided an interesting diversion. Our condo sat next to their beach training area, and each morning twelve to fifteen lifeguards arrived before 8 AM for an hour of strenuous exercise. They jogged on the beach then swam back and forth to a series of buoys some distance from shore.
|Double red flags signify the beach is close for swimming.|
The sheriff's vehicle is parked at the lifeguard training area.
Some of the lifeguards can be seen leaving the water.
We were all impressed by their daily workouts and amazed that training continued even in the midst of the storms spawned by Barry. An evening exercise held us spellbound as two lifeguards took their rescue boards out while thunder boomed overhead and lightning cut through the sky. The surf was treacherous, yet they performed amazing maneuvers while waves crashed around them and the storm raged.
The last two mornings we were there, the lifeguards swam seemingly effortlessly for nearly an hour through the ten-foot waves. Their endurance swims were followed by extended time on their boards as they trained for rescues and surfed the waves.
|Lifeguards are training on their rescue boards. Each|
morning they spent an hour in the water, even when
Tropical Storm Barry hit!
This year, we hadn’t expected storms and beach closures, but Barry provided a unique glimpse of nature’s fury as well as God’s grandeur and the majesty of his creation. It also provided food for thought about the writing life.
In my pre-published days, I was a fair-weather writer, who worked when inspiration hit and my schedule provided free time. I was the beachgoer who wanted perfect conditions for my beach vacation.
Publication brought responsibility. My editor and publishing house were relying on me to produce a contracted work of fiction on time. Early on, I was concerned about the level of my writing ability and cautious about jumping into each new story. Like a few of the lifeguards who lagged behind and were always trying to catch up, I needed to hone my craft and pick up my pace.
In life, storms are inevitable. Rip currents and gale force winds can hamper even the best of swimmers. Similarly, all of us in the writing world, including established authors, can be thrown off course by changes in publishing houses or new trends in the marketplace. Lines close, editors change jobs, genres ebb and flow like the tides, but the committed writer finds the wherewithal to continue in spite of the hardships.
I doubt many beachgoers realize how strenuously the Destin lifeguards train, yet it is because of their daily efforts and dedication to excellence that they are able to perform heroic feats of rescue when swimmers’ lives are in peril. For that, I’m grateful.
I’m also grateful that the writing life does not involve life and death situations, except those on the written page. However, staying true to our calling requires attention to detail and an ongoing desire to improve our craft. The best way to become a better writer is to write and write and write some more. We also need to read books that stretch our imaginations and expand our creativity. Attending workshops and studying how-to manuals help to enhance our ability as well.
The Gulf is constantly changing and so is the writing life. To be successful, writers need to take the good with the bad, the sunshine with the storms, the times of progress with the times we’re blocked or our creativity seems to wane. Like the lifeguards, we sometimes pause on shore to catch our breath before we grab our boards and jump back into the waves.
At week's end, my family and I packed our cars for the long drive home and said goodbye to the beach with hopes of returning next year. The memories of our vacation and the physical endurance of the lifeguards will continue to inspire me to keep pushing forward, even when storms threaten.
Where are you in your writing journey? Are you a fair-weather writer or are you ready to face the big waves? What helps you forge ahead even when the going gets tough? How have you faced the storms in your own life?
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Wishing you abundant blessings,
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