Thursday, March 29, 2007


I was invited to participate in the world famous CoConut Island Shark round up.
Of course I said yes.
I was a header or heeler -- depending on whether the shark was chasing me or I was doing the chasing.
One of those activities that are more fun in retrospect.

10:30 pm and 76 degrees.
I am a risk taker. Always have been.
When Mark Heckman from Waikiki Aquarium called a few years back to see if I wanted to help move sharks around, I jumped at the chance. I spent the next several hours thinking, "What am I doing?"
After seeing the movie Jaws I refused to take a bath. Some how the foolhardy photographer part of me won out over the for-God's-Sake-Be-Reasonable side of me.
I found myself in a long narrow lagoon full of sharks. The other students and I were told to jump in and swim across to move the sharks from one end to the other. This was not complex but unfortunately no one told the sharks.
As hard as herding cats.
But I survived with all my limbs intact.
With writing, taking risks are everything.
If you play it safe you might as well get a job writing those cute captions in coloring books.
Risks are necessary,
Pushing the envelope.
Being different.
This is what makes compelling writing.


Frank Baron said...

Sure, all those things are important.

But so is keeping your fingers more-or-less intact. ;)

Sam said...

You are nuts, lol!!!!

Wendy Roberts said...

Okay, why did you NEED to herd sharks? Was it just a matter of moving them to a different location? Couldn't they just offer them food to encourage them into another pool ... oh wait, I guess they did LOL. Glad you survived :) Oh and I've never seen the Waikiki Aquarium (unless you count the one at some hotel on the beach) but I've been to the one in Maui and loved it. Is Waikiki's better?

Holly Kennedy said...

Ooooh, invite me next year, Pat!
I would love to herd sharks.
Sounds like it'd be a blast.
I, too, have always been a risk
taker with an all-or-nothing
approach. It's worked out
well for me. :)

Kiskadee said...

Oh Lord, Pat, don't say that thing about taking risks! I took more risks in publishing than maybe was good for me, and look where it got me!

I'ma risk taker myself. I never thought about herding sharks, but I've done some pretty risky things with other animals, including human ones!

ORION said...

Waikiki Aquarium is small (across from Kapiolani park at the end of Waikiki) but it is mighty. They don't do the sea world kind of "razzle dazzle." They are more of an "academic" aquarium. If you want fascinating info about sea creatures -- it is phenomenal! I used to take my students there every semester.
I am a risk taker in my writing -- sometimes it works --other times it doesn't -- but I am always true to my passion. That's the key I believe -- Authenticity.

adrienne said...

You know I really want to do that now. Screw swimming with dolphins! It's sharks all the way for this writer from now on! Okay next time you've got me and Holly to back you up!

ORION said...

BTW-- In the photo?
I am in black with my long hair.
The week I moved onto ORION I cut it short.
You get to figure out why...

Demon Hunter said...

Thanks for the post. I have been a little bummed lately, but you have provided much inspiration. Thanks!

Kimber An said...

Me, HH, and my oldest girl are most impressed with your shark-herding skills! The littluns are already in bed or they would be impressed too.

Your column reminds me of one I read on Romancing the Blog once. She was talking about bestsellers being the risk-takers. Of course, many of the commentors responded with the Catch-22 of taking a risk as an author. On one hand they're told to push the envelope and on the other hand their work is rejected if it doesn't fit into a neat little genre. I guess it's the curse of the mid-list author. They said it's easier to succeed by taking risks as either a debut author or a bestseller.

thatladyinconnecticut said...

I'm glad you said this about taking risks in your writing. My MS has some controversial aspects of autism in it - I could hear the angry mob of naysayers who teach that autism is genetic and has no treatment or "cure" circling my house with torches alight - the I figured, "What the hell, it will be good publicity." I am still nervous though, I must admit. I barely comment with my name any longer since they grab my words off the web and harrass me on their blogs. Strange crew.


Kimber An said...

You're not alone, Kim S! I have more experience and knowledge of ADHD than Autism though. Keep up the good work. You may give hope to families who might not otherwise find any out there.

ORION said...

Again, I think you have to write from the middle core of your being. To me that's how authenticity is created. For writing to have that voice -- that spark-- the reader has to feel the author through their words.
If you are trying to be conservative -- it shows.

Demon Hunter said...

There are so many cases of Autism, that I am beginning to think it's environmental and not so much genetic. Naysayers don't know alot about it; doctors do, and it is sometimes suspected to come from childhood immunizations. There are too many new cases to be genetic. JMO!

Therese said...

I'm with you, Pat. Coloring inside the lines works for some people and in some situations...but will never make you stand out.

I'm girding up for some inevitable controversy SOUVENIR is going to generate (and, in a strange way, looking forward to it!).

Kanani said...

So does this mean you're rounding up rattlesnakes in Texas next year? Well, I guess herding sharks is something you've already done in one form or another in your varied career?

Nice pics. Show more.
By the way, Marcia Talley will speak to us in the next few months on
The Writerly Pause

ORION said... there's an idea. Yeah risk can take many forms.
Content OR delivery of your writing. Whether it's a characterization (I LOVE Darkly Dreaming Dexter) How risky is making a serial murderer sympathetic?Just think of the rejections that probably got -- ("serial murder is over done as a plot device...")

Kanani said...

Did I tell you that today I am painting my bathroom? Yes, there is risk even in this.

I'll update my blog later. I had a thing on passion and art I was writing.