When the concept of this research project was first brought to my attention, a few wild ideas popped into my head, but they were broad and generic. I needed an idea that I could get excited and passionate about. That’s when it occurred to me…the Shore. I’ll write about the JerseyShore. At first glance, the idea seems like an obvious choice. New Jersey is a state whose economy is driven by summer tourism. I, however, only began to frequent the beaches recently and that routine was interrupted by the devastation of Hurricane Sandy. As far as Jersey natives go, I am quite unique. Though I lived down the street from Belmar all my life, I never gave the beach a second thought. I was always too busy to relax in the sun. My family drove by the beach often enough, but it was always in the background of my life. I’m convinced this is what caused my isolation from my fellow classmates. They had a close relationship with the beach. I felt like a Benny.
That all changed the summer of 2011. I had just returned from Walt Disney World where I had worked as an intern for four months. Although it was a wonderful experience, I was ready to move one with my life. That’s when I met my boyfriend DJ. We had known each other for a while, but we didn’t start dating until that summer. The JerseyShore played a pivotal part in our courtship. It’s where we had our first date, our first kiss…it was where we became a couple. I don’t have a memory of that summer that did not revolve around the beach. DJ and I became intertwined with the shore like a strand of DNA.
Suddenly, my whole view of the community changed. It wasn’t just a place. Living memories were tied to every grain of sand. I saw couples of all ages go for walks. I saw families ride bikes and children touch the water for the first time. The beach was a magical place–a realm where reality was not allowed to intrude.
When Hurricane Sandy hit our shores, everyone’s life was thrown into disarray including mine. Those who lived on the water lost everything and years of memories were devoured by the waves and carried towards the horizon. I felt violated by Sandy. So much of my recent history had been written on those shores. I didn’t think I would ever get them back.
I’ve visited Belmar beach recently and thought it’s a mere shadow of the place I used to know; reconstruction is underway. The boardwalk is projected to open in April and people will be able to visit the beach again in droves. This is what I want to write about; people getting reacquainted with their memories. I plan to construct a short story that incorporates several beach related tales at once, including mine. They will all come together in the end when the beach reopens. It’s a reconstruction of a different kind; a restoration of lives and a society. In my mind, the story would emulate Gone With the Wind, but on a much smaller scale.
The romanticism of the beach lends itself perfectly to a fictional setting. I have written short stories before, but nothing this ambitious. Bringing these tales to life will push my skills to the limit and I accept the challenge with open arms.
The first publication I would send my story to is New Jersey Monthly. It’s a regional magazine that caters to our state. Although I believe my topic is broad enough to appeal to a wide audience, New Jersey natives will have a greater appreciation for my story. The magazine covers everything New Jersey from news, to sports, to dining, and of course the JerseyShore. There is a whole section on the website dedicated to that region. Hurricane Sandy stories are a very hot topic, so I should have no problem getting it published.
The next magazine I would take into consideration is Sofa Ink Quarterly. According to Writer’s Market, Sofa Ink Quarterly is a general interest periodical that looks for inspirational stories, a category that suits the nature of my tale.
Perhaps the most interesting publication I found was Chicken Soup for the Soul. The book collection publishes many inspirational stories and I believe the tale, which is about the reconstruction of a society, would be a perfect fit. I have read many of these books and understand the criteria by which they judge their submissions.
Fiction is a well known magazine and the perfect home for my story. The magazine has no limitations to what they accept, so I should have no problem with the publication process.
This topic is one can relate to everyone. Even though many people don’t live near the beach, they can relate to the idea of their home and way of life suddenly being destroyed. Half of literature is filled with similar stories. Just think of Gone With the Wind and The Grapes of Wrath. People don’t read those stories simply because they are from those regions. They can relate to the shared human experience of starting over.
I don’t foresee any sort of problems in the research process. There are plenty of archives out there for the taking. I just need to locate people and their personal stories, but that’s nothing a Facebook post or a walk down the beach can’t solve. Even though I had face to face interviews, I hope this project will help me confront that fear. I am excited about his project, for I believe it will transform me both as a writer and a person.