Because it was basically open ocean, there was a storm coming in to the area that day (not set to 'land' until after dark, don't worry, we're not completely nuts) and we were in deep water.
First, I have to say that Cozumel, where we met the dolphins, has some of the most beautiful beaches in Mexico, so as soon as we were out of the taxi, it was full-on, jaw-dropping wonder. Then, I have to tell you that dolphins are B-E-A-utiful when they're swimming. They play with each other and talk and leap out of the sea. It's like they know you're there, just waiting to come and play.
And after the 20 minute dissertation about how to interact with the dolphins, because even though they're trained they are still large, wild animals, we were ready to go.
Well, most of us - bebe wasn't so sure about it. As we stepped on to the pier, which was a solid 8 feet above the rolling waves, she started to turn a little green. Her little hand gripped mine as we walked to the stairs and that first step...major for her. When the water, which was slightly chilly that morning, hit her little shins, she scooted as close to me as she could and squeezed my hand a little harder. Then she looked up to make sure Daddy and Uncle J were coming, too. Because, yanno, Mommy is good for comfort but if danger is about she wants D-A-D-D-Y. Or Uncle J as a close substitute. :) And then Freida (that's our dolphin) sped by us the first time, her eyes widened to about silver-dollar size. And then Freida jumped into the air and bebe's jaw dropped. She didn't even mind the light spray of water that hit us face-on. And then a smaller dorsal fin puttered by and bebe realized Freida had a baby of her own. And that just made the whole thing too cool to be really, really afraid of.
Writing is like that (nice segue, huh?). That first blank page is big and scary, but put a few words on the page and it's not such a big deal. Sending a chapter to the CPs still makes my stomach clench, but even when my critiqued pages have more red (or yellow or blue, depending on who's reading) than blank ink, I know letting go of a somewhat flawed draft will make for a stronger finished product.
And the biggest scare of all - sending a finished, edited and polished-as-can-be manuscript to an editor...dear, God, that takes some serious Mylanta. But then we take a breath and, if we're lucky, our book soars onto bookshelves (with a little more editing, come on, editors know things!) looking so much prettier than it did when we first opened that blank document.
bebe, by the way, took to the dolphins like an old pro. She was paddling around and trying to wriggle away from us and the trainer to get closer to them within about 10 seconds.
And there are moments in writing, like bebe above, when all the struggle and fear and doubts are worth it. Because you know you've made your book as strong as it can be...and it's time for it to go for a swim.