Wednesday, February 8

On Letting Go and Holding On

Whew! We are back from vacation and we're (RadioMan, bebe and me) a little bit exhausted and a little bit missing the family (all 15 of us in the same place for a week - heaven!) and a lot missing the warm weather...

Once again, we took a little swim with our dolphin friends, and once again, we learned a little lesson. We had a dolphin encounter (in which we kissed and 'danced' and petted) before, when bebe was about 4. This time, all three of us wanted to get a little more up-close-and-personal with the dolphins, so we opted for the actual swim. That's bebe above, getting a 'superman' ride...and I'm down below, hanging on while the three of us swam together.

Our dolphins were names Emiliano and Da Vinci, and they were the sweetest boys - very adventurous, talkative, and a little bit silly. Completely adorable and lovable.

One of the things that stuck with me as we were frolicking (it's my new favorite word...there is no other word for a dolphin encounter than a frolick), our trainer told us to let the dolphins do the hard work, and just hang on for the ride. When a dolphin swims you around (like me, below), the 'human' holds his or her hands out to the side, the dolphins swim up and you let your hands hold, a little loosely, over their dorsal fin. Same when they're 'supermanning' you out of the water - you lay kind of spread-eagle and they push against your feet until you're up and out of the water (like bebe, above).

Writing, I've found, is a little bit like taking a dolphin ride - I'm right there in the story, but if I hold on to what I think is supposed to happen, I lose the gist of the book. This happened over the holidays when I was finishing up the draft of my third Slippery Rock book - which is now safely in the hands of my editor! I had a vision for the book - I wanted to write not about a couple falling in love, but a couple on the verge of losing love...and the journey they take to get that love back.

The problem is that I wasn't really focusing on what caused them to draw away from one another...or, maybe it's that I was too focused on the external reasoning and not enough on what was happening just below the surface, from the very start of their love story. And because I was so focused on what was happening on the outside, I almost missed the very real undercurrents that started them down the road to a breakup in the first place.

Swimming with dolphins is like that a little bit. When I was waiting for Da Vinci and Emiliano to swim up so that I could grab on to their fins, I was so focused on what would happen next that I very nearly missed them altogether. Then, once I was holding on, I was so busy watching their tails and anticipating falling head-first into the ocean, that I almost didn't let the experience wash over me in the first place. I nearly missed how cool it was to skim over the surface of the water, how amazing it was to feel their tails bumping against my hips...Just like I nearly missed that my characters weren't just falling apart because of the present, but because of their pasts.

About halfway through the swim - and halfway through the third version of the book - I realized that I had to let the dolphins - and the characters - lead the way...and I just had to hold on and enjoy the ride.

~ Kristina


  1. I love this, Kristi. I'm glad you all had such a great break!

  2. What a cool analogy! And a lifetime experience to treasure! So glad you had such a great time!

  3. Fantastic pictures, Kristina. I never thought about it before, but I think 'swimming with the dolphins' has to go on my bucket list.

    Interesting analogy. As they say, "It's not the destination, it's the journey." I know I need to pay more attention to the journey in real life. Maybe I need to do that in my writing as well. Glad you had such a good time.

    1. It is ... amazing is the best word I can think of. Definitely make it a bucket lister!