How Bethany Beach made me a better writer

A month ago, we had our end of the summer hurrah by visiting a beach we’d never been to before – Bethany Beach, DE. We’d heard nothing but good things about it from countless people and needless to say, the anticipation for this weeklong venture was monumental. And then a curious thing happened.

Between our family and friends, we got three tickets in our very first day. 

ocean

Ouch. That hurts. So badly. How on earth could we, alone, get two in one day? So, we did what any modern family would do: we hit Google and did some research. Sure enough, we were not alone. Apparently, although Bethany is beautiful and fun and all that jazz, it also has a reputation of aiming to recover the entire annual income for the whole stinkin’ town in a measly three months. We were no exception.

Our first infraction was understandable – our parking pass had run out a half hour before and we were ticketed. “Wow. They’re Johnny on the spot. We won’t miss paying on time again,” we thought. But then we got another for parking an inch over a yellow line that wasn’t even marked as being a requirement for staying within. And it was dark. And the parking attendant got the color of our car wrong on our ticket. How were we supposed to see the yellow line? Then our friends got pulled over for failing to slow down from 40 to 30, within a matter of feet of the speed limit sign. No joke, the cop was sitting behind the new sign waiting to pull people over. So sad.

Understandably, we were frustrated. We went to court to fight it, only to be told our “officer couldn’t see the color of our car” theory was wrong and that we should have looked up the parking laws of the town before arriving. It was our responsibility. Ok, fine. Then they charged us a court fee – without having told us before that there would be one.

Argh. So frustrating.

So, I’ve been thinking about it ever since our trip. (Not obsessing. Casually thinking. I promise). And one day, it sort of hit me all at once. “Ya know? That whole Bethany Beach fiasco was a good thing.” As ridiculous as the tickets may have seemed at the time, there was a lesson to be taken away from the whole situation.

Time to slow down. 

slow

The fact is, we can try to rationalize and explain away why we shouldn’t have gotten the tickets all we want, but the fact is, we were guilty. We got them. And honestly, the basis of every single one really was, patience. Or lack thereof, actually.

See, we could have stopped playing on the beach to pay for more time on the meter, but we were in too much of a hurry to make memories. We could have straightened our parking spot, but the beach was calling and there was fun to be had. And yes, my friends could have slowed down and avoided the speeding ticket, as well, but after a long day in the sun, the bed was calling their names. And so, our rush to be somewhere else, doing something else, experiencing something else – was what got us into trouble.

I realized this was absolutely indicative of my writing of late. I’ve been in a rush. I’ve been wanting to hit my self-imposed deadlines, to get to the next project on my list, to finish the first draft, or the last edit, or whatever is next on my plate. I’ve been so busy racing forward to get to the next big thing, I haven’t taken the time to enjoy what I’ve been doing in the now.

And I’ve been stressed. Like really stressed. Which makes for bad writing. When I go back and re-read my writing over the past month, it sounds rushed and empty and absent. It reflects my lack of enjoyment and this makes me sad, people. It really does. I only ever wanted to start writing because I enjoy it and needed to get these stories out of my head.

writing

So, the message from Bethany is simple: Slow down. Take your time. Enjoy each moment. The beach will still be there ten minutes from now. My writing will be much more enjoyable to read if I take a few extra days on a chapter, instead of racing to bring it to a close.

Thank you Bethany. Thank you for the lesson you held deep within those grains of sand, despite the fact our wallets are a bit lighter. Now when I drive, I’ve learned to use cruise control to regulate my speeding – even in between stop signs in town. (As annoying as that is.) I’ve learned to stop racing from here to there, and to stop to look around along the way. (I’ve noticed there are a ton of dogs in this world.) And I’ve learned to stop stressing about getting my writing complete and to revel in it. Appreciate every line that comes to mind, ponder each word until I’ve chosen the exact right one. 

Slow down. Enjoy. 

How has your writing been going? Have you had any moments of revelation about how it can change or better? Feel free to leave a comment below! I’d love to hear your experience, as well!

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