Wild Things – Inspiration & Imagination

In August of 2020, I wrote this:

It is untamed. Wild and unplanned. I wake deep in thought, recalling the mornings in the Redwoods – the air cold and damp. There was nothing around but the untouched forest. Standing there, facing the west, I saw the Pacific resting between the hills – the brush wild and untamed. So perfectly beautiful and lonely.

This is what it’s like to love you. On a day I least expected you, there you were. We are perfect partners. We think alike. But not. In that place in between, where we differ, you shine most.

There are more questions than answers. In the beauty of this wild thing, I long for you. What is and will not be follows me around like a coastal fog. Through the haze I see you. I don’t hold it against you – you can’t tame wild things.

I live here in this tension, with what will not be, settling into the cold, wild – alone.

I wrote the above about a man – a specific man. I wrote it a time I was in a vulnerable place – literally and figuratively. But I also wrote it about nothing at all. Haha. As a writer, there are times in our lives we are inspired to write something because of someone or as a result of an experience. What comes from that inspiration and imagination may look nothing like our lives. What also resulted from writing this blurb was a novel. I have a love/hate relationship with A Thousand Years (said novel). It has been a hard one to write, mostly because the book I actually wanted to write, may not be received well. So I struggle with all other versions of it. That’s not a good place for a writer to be.

But in just a short time, I’ll be in the very place where much of the novel is set. When I was in high school, I went on one very long camping trip all over Northern California, including the coast. The fog up there is like this living and breathing thing and when you throw that together with the redwoods and the salt air, it’s a recipe for inspiration. This is the kind of inspiration that has lasted a lifetime. It has been so many years since my last trip along the coast (I think I was in college the last time). Next week, I’ll be in the very places that my protagonist, Birdie – has called home for most of her life. I can’t wait. And while this trip home is going to be hard, I look forward to the inspiration that comes from such a lovely place – during those few days away.

While I don’t know what will happen with A Thousand Years, I know for sure it will be better if I go on this trip. More importantly, it and everything else I’m meant to write, will be better if I write what’s on my heart.

California & a Road Trip

castro creek, castro canyon, big sur, elaina avalos
Photo by Deetjen’s Big Sur Inn || Castro Creek

After what felt like way too long, I finally have a date for my father’s funeral. Closure is needed and it’s really a crappy feeling to have a memorial or funeral so up in the air. I’m grateful to have that settled.

The day after his funeral, I’m leaving Southern California behind for the central or northern coast of California. I haven’t decided where. There is 400 miles of coastline to work with. 🙂 I don’t have tons of time – 4 days & 3 nights. I want to pick well. There are a few reasons this trip is so important to me.

– I want a few days of rest. I need it.

– The novel I’ve worked on the last few years is partially set along the central/northern coast, I could also use a boost of creative energy to get through (what I hope) is the final round of edits on the novel. I’d hoped I’d feel up to it when I got home. I might feel like it in the next couple of weeks, but if I don’t, I hope the trip will help.

Napa Valley, vineyard, Napa, wine, elaina avalos

– Maybe most important of all is that this is the trip, though shorter than I would have planned, is part of a promise I made to my brother – for a trip for our April 2023 birthdays. If you’re a first-time reader, my brother passed away 11 months ago. I honestly didn’t think it would work out to go on a trip, for him – in April. But God knew it would work out.

I’m honestly very unsure right at the moment where I’ll head to. But I’ll make up my mind this weekend (I hope). It’s nearly impossible to pick. 🙂 I have to keep telling myself I have a lifetime to take more trips. Hopefully next time it will involve some camping. By the way, if I could pick the perfect place to live, it would involve the ocean & the mountains – pine forests (Redwoods? I mean…😍) and sea salt air. I mean, how much better can it get? I can’t wait to enjoy a little bit of that for a few days.

muir woods, muir woods national monument, elaina avalos
Muir Woods || Photo by Airam Dato
mcway falls, big sur, julia pfeiffer burns state park, elaina avalos
McWay Falls – Big Sur || Photo by Veronika Bykovich
avenue of the giants, humboldt, humboldt ca, redwoods, elaina avalos
Avenue of the Giants – Humboldt || Photo by Tim Oldenkamp on Unsplash
avenue of the giants, humboldt, humboldt ca, redwoods, elaina avalos
Avenue of the Giants || Photo by Venti Views on Unsplash

Open Book

My heart is open like a well read book.
I don’t hide how I feel. It doesn’t take
Much effort to know what lies within.
The words and care, the love – they spill
Onto the page and into the air, to you





Without reservation.

Until now.

Like an old book’s spine, cracked

And worn, it came natural to me.

But in the openness, my heart got lost.
There’s no one to protect me, but me.
I don’t want the hurt that comes from
Loving and caring so openly. Not now.
Not anymore. I’ve risked too much.

The confusion surrounds me now and unfairly
You’ve expected my heart to crack too far open
Without understanding, clarity, or reason to hope.
I think you once said something like, I thought we had more trust between us than that. Indeed.

My heart, like an open book
Has become delicate and worn.
The pages are coming loose now, as the spine cracks.
It needs protecting now.
There’s no one to protect it, but me.

Relationship Goals

MADAM SECRETARY, elizabeth mccord, henry mccord, relationship goals
Just Another Normal Day — While Elizabeth works to successfully broker a peace treaty between China and Japan, a Chinese student seeking political asylum threatens the deal. Meanwhile, tensions rise at home between Alison and Stevie during Alison\’s sleepover party, on MADAM SECRETARY, Sunday, Oct. 12 (8:01-9:00 PM, ET/PT) on the CBS Television Network. Henry McCord (Tim Daly) and Elizabeth McCord (Téa Leoni), shown. Photo: Barbara Nitke/CBS ©2014 CBS Broadcasting, Inc. All Rights Reserved

As a writer, I always write a love story into my novels even if it’s not ultimately what the story is about. I don’t write romance. But I’m a sucker for a good love story, just the same. I’ve been reading a lot so far this year and I’m picking up on some trends in these relationships that I’m not a huge fan of. Mostly I get a little uncomfortable with characters who don’t seem to have much in the way of . . . hmm, what’s the word? Imperfections.

The novel I’m reading now is not my favorite, in general. But oddly enough, the hero – who I’m supposed to adore (because a ton of other women do), is kind of the worst part. He’s too much. He’s too much of everything. He’s unreal. If I met this guy in real life, I’d be a little suspicious of him. I already know what’s ahead, because I’ve seen the television series based on the book. He’s less perfect on the show – which is slightly more comforting. But overall, he’s written this way in the novel (perfect), without realistic negative characteristics. It’s sheer fantasy.

Reading this book has made me realize a fault in a character I’d written previously and in the hero in my novel in progress. Reading is an escape. It can be fun to read books and watch movies that aren’t terribly realistic on one hand. On the other, if the characters don’t ring true, ultimately I’m not going to like the book, show, or movie.

Elizabeth McCord:
[At the sight of Henry repairing gutters in a light snow] Well, there’s a sight that never gets old. You know, if men knew how sexy they looked fixing stuff, they’d never stop.

Henry McCord:
I can’t feel my hands.

I’ve been re-watching “Madam Secretary” over the last week or so. I tend to re-watch my favorite shows or movies when I don’t know what else to watch. If you haven’t seen it before, “Madam Secretary” is a television show about the Secretary of State. She is a former CIA operative and her husband was a Marine pilot that later went on to work for the Defense Intelligence Agency, after a career as an academic. I love shows or movies about politics or current affairs and this show has some episodes that are ripped from the headlines. There is plenty of intrigue and political wrangling.

But the reason I adore this show is because of the relationship between the Secretary of State (Elizabeth McCord) and her husband, Henry. These two are relationship goals. They are partners in every sense of the word. Their affection for each other is obvious – they have a cute relationship. But the best part of their marriage, in my opinion, is their deep respect for each other and the advice they seek and give to each other. They argue. They don’t always agree. This is real life. Their relationship, however, doesn’t suffer over time. The conflict only draws them closer together as they remain committed to their marriage and each other, whatever happens.

This is the kind of relationship I want. It’s also the kind of relationship I want to write about. As I work on two different writing projects, this is foremost in my mind. I hate reading or watching what could be a great couple/relationship that is entirely built on infatuation with characters that are so perfect it’s creepy.

Who wants to read about a couple or hero/heroine that is so good, they come off as trouble waiting to happen? I’d take the imperfections any day. In the book I’m reading now, the hero is so perfect – even his troublesome character flaw is rooted in his status as a hero. I’d take an Elizabeth and Henry McCord relationship, kind of relationship – over this relationship in the novel, any day.

I aspire to write characters like the McCords.