One of the key settings for the post-apocalyptic novel I drafted during the last November National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) is a bar. The first quarter to third of the novel takes place there. I knew I had to find a real bar to base this setting on but the ones I checked out in San Francisco were all wrong. They were too small, too narrow, and other problems. None of them made sense. I was thinking I might have to grab one of my good friends and go on a serious search through the City to find one.
While in Pioneertown visiting a friend during my Joshua Tree road trip, we stopped at a local bar for a drink before dinner. We were deciding on appetizers and drinks and I kept looking around. The place was really familiar but I couldn't figure out why since I'd never been there before.
It took me a few minutes to realize this is the bar in my novel. I was only familiar with the area where the main bar was and the kitchen was much narrower than in my novel but this is place. The brick walls, extra seating area, small stage area, and bricked in office in the center of the building were all extra details but they're perfect and will change the story for the better. I told my friends I needed to look around so I strolled around and around trying to take in as many details as possible since I'd left my camera in the car. There was a band playing too and I didn't want to retrieve my camera to take flash pictures during the performance. I took note of the floors, the smells, the walls, and the configuration of the place. When we got back to my friend's place for dinner, my friend gave me a brand new notebook to record my notes. You can see some of my notes below:
One of my friends suggested that perhaps the reason I couldn't find a bar in San Francisco is because the story should be set out in the middle of nowhere and not in a city. I told her I was seriously rethinking that idea.
I'm far away from going back to this novel since I'm working on other projects but it feels really good to have found this very important part of the story. And it will change the story quite a bit. The wheels are already turning.