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Saturday, 12 February 2011

Write what you miss...

Taking a very short break from SF while my ebook makes its way onto Amazon, I've been writing about one of my passions: scuba diving. When I grew up I wanted to be an astronaut, which I soon realised wasn't going to happen. Then I discovered diving, and was immediately hooked.

Astronauts train underwater, as it gives similar sensations of weightlessness. For me, the ability to hover, fly, and slowly freefall into the deep blue still gives me a massive kick. And then there's the fish, small and large, and the spooky wrecks. But a few years ago I got injured while diving a wreck off France's Northwestern coast, and it curtailed my diving.

As a writer, you're always trying to add little details to bring your writing to life. But if you write about your passion, especially one you miss, the details free-flow into your mind, and they taste real, not manufactured. So my short story, No Diving, which will be on my website in a couple of months, seemed to write itself. But there's a price tag. I got melancholic while writing it, because I miss it so much, and so the story itself is not a comedy. And the addiction is strong. I now want to write more stories about diving, or even a diving novel...

I still get to dive, sometimes, and on my birthday a few weeks ago I was lucky enough to be in Southern Mauritius, on an electric dive in the famous Passe St. Jacques, a drift dive where you 'fly' through underwater canyons propelled by the current, and when the funnel opens up into an underwater plain, you grab a rock with both hands. The current whips you around and you hang on by your fingertips, feeling the tug on your forearms, as your body lies horizontal like a flag in a strong wind. Then the sharks come, sleek black-tips, six feet long with angular heads, jaws open just enough to show their back-sloping teeth. One of them sidled next to me, tailfin willowing effortlessly while I struggled not to let go and fly backwards into the school of sharks hovering behind me. It was within arm's reach, is gills rippling, and I was tempted to touch it, but its black eye watched me and I decided to leave temptation where it was. You can't talk underwater, but you can communicate, and the shark did exactly that - I was very much on his territory, his home ground. Dominance established, he headed off to hunt.

I can see him now, without closing my eyes.

So, for any writer, write what you're passionate about, and if you miss that particular passion, the good news is it will probably improve your writing.

And if you get depressed afterward, do what I do, and eat some chocolate.

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