Despite her name, Hollywood Beach isn't a glam type. This is a natural beach, with bits of shell and coral, scuttling crabs and the washed-up remains of human activities. Some tides bring up huge clumps of dead sea grass; the locals call them "ground tides." Others take away sand, revealing the gorgeous shells left by generations of conch fishermen. Once the beach was littered by shoes; I turned the event into a short story.
Hollywood Beach does not have a Michael Caine fussing over it and trying to make it ready for its closeup. Here on North Caicos, we don't go in for daily rakings or trucking in sand when too many rocks are showing. OK, well ... there is one property owner who does those things, but the rest of us think he's some kind of nut. For the most part, sand comes and goes according to the ocean's will, and while one day the beach will look junky, the next it's perfectly scoured and looks ready for an ad company photo shoot.
Because it changes daily, I find Hollywood Beach more interesting than those glossy-mag scenes. There's always something new to discover, more to look at than lined-up beach chairs (a different color for each resort). I prefer this beach to those unnaturally prettified ones.
You might think this odd, given that I write fiction. As a writer I am the Michael Caine character, rearranging bits and pieces of life to create a certain look, a certain effect. So why do I look down on those things when it comes to beaches?
I suppose it all comes down to a matter of degree. If I've written a character who is a little like my friend J- and a little like my friend H-, plus some bits of this guy P- who blew through the islands one season ... well, that's one thing. But I can go too far and ruin his believability in a desire to move the plot or make a point. Would my retired beach-bum drug runner ever say something like, "The importance and usefulness of fear of punishment and desire for reward is a controversial issue here"? Hardly. And if I "make" him say it, I've just dumped a load of dredged sand on my natural beach.
Fiction is not all artifice. There is a reality and a truth to it. Rearrangement is OK, but only if it doesn't hide that basic truth.
I like the truth of a natural beach. It reminds me that we humans aren't the center of the universe and we're certainly not in charge. A trumped-up photo-shoot beach is only hubris and arrogance.