Monday, March 30, 2015

The Things We Do For Research

If you follow me on social media, you might have seen comments about me surviving scuba diving lessons or something to that degree. I use the word surviving for a lot of reasons, but I'll get back to that. 

I have now written two books in which scuba has played an important role, and I am about to dive headfirst (see what I did there?) into a third. So I figured it's about time I stopped researching how to do it and actually learned in person.

For the record, I might not have gathered the courage to do this if my husband hadn't signed us up for this class as my Christmas gift. We have been talking about getting certified for years, and have been putting it off for various reasons (read: excuses). And we both knew that it's time. I mean really. I'm writing about mermaids now! Come on. 

Just so you know, I am slightly claustrophobic, so wearing the scuba goggles freaks me out because they cut off my peripheral vision. And wearing the BCDs (see that? I'm using scuba terms and everything!) freaks me out because the vest has lots of gadgets attached, including a super heavy tank filled with air, and I am not that heavy, but I am also filled with air, so together my tank and I don't sink so well. Not being able to stay underwater when I'm supposed to freaks me out too. And then there's the whole thing of it being unnatural for humans to be able to breathe underwater. (Like, really, are you kidding me? I'm not Emma.)

Yesterday was our first "open water" dive. (Not necessarily open, because it was in a crater, which is not all that huge, but it's like 90 feet deep.) So there are all these reasons why I sat on the edge of the platform trying not to have a panic attack. But I pushed through it, and I put on my goggles, and the ridiculously long fins that make me feel like a fish, and I stuck the regulator in my mouth and I jumped in.  

Guys, I didn't die! 

And after we figured out that I need a whole lot of weight added to my vest, I managed to sink below the surface and I kept breathing. And I swam around a bit. I practiced losing my regulator and getting water in my goggles and managed to get it out without rising to the surface. I ended up diving to 40 feet below the surface.

And it was fun. 

I'm not going to lie. It was expensive, and difficult, and ridiculously scary at first, but I pushed past all that and I am so proud of myself for being brave. Later this week, I'm going to do it again. And then I'll have a shiny pretty card with my picture on it, and it will tell the world that I know how to use all that equipment to breathe underwater. And then I will know how my characters feel as I write this next book.    

This is the kind of thing writers sometimes do to bring stories to life. But more than that, this is the kind of thing people do to overcome our fears. 

Okay, now it's your turn. What hard thing / scary fear are you facing right now? How are you facing it?

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