Octopuses, jellyfish, and a conversation turned awkward.

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Conversations take an interesting turn sometimes, especially when you throw in random facts no one knows that you happened upon while doing research for a book. Because let’s face it, it’s fun to share fascinating information with others, am I right? It is…until the conversation turns awkward.

For instance, the other night my husband and I had people over for dinner. The conversation among the adults flowed naturally as the kids played on the floor. Now, I consider myself a fairly social person, but if I don’t have anything to add to a conversation, I find I don’t talk much. On this particular night, I stayed fairly quiet, especially since most of my focus was on the kiddos. Then the conversation turned toward whale watching, which led to other water-related topics. Some of you may know that the novel I’m currently working on involves an open water swim, and since that’s probably not something I will ever do in my lifetime (me and open water don’t really get along), I’ve had to do some research on the subject. Let me tell you, I’ve learned all kinds of interesting things through research projects, so sometimes random facts burst forth from my mouth and people look at me like I’m crazy…or smart. But mostly crazy.

Anyway, as the conversation continued, the random fact I blurted out was that the waters churning under the Narrows Bridge in Washington State is a hot spot for the giant Pacific octopus. Who knew? I’ve lived in the Northwest my entire life and I never imagined there were octopuses dwelling beneath the bridge I’ve traveled across loads of times! Of course, my sudden interest in octopuses might have something to do with having watched Finding Dory recently. Anyone else out there claim Hank as their favorite character in that movie?! 😉   Now octopuses have risen higher on my pretty-awesome-creatures-that-I-never-want-to-encounter-in-real-life list. And if I mentioned the octopus tidbit in the conversation with friends, then of course I had to mention that the largest lion’s mane jellyfish (a species found in Puget Sound waters) is recorded as having tentacles over 120 feet long!!! Can you imagine? I mean most of my jellyfish encounters consist of seeing the small blobs floating in the water or washed up on shore, but 120 feet of jellyfish?!! Whole body shivers of ugh happening right now. Of course these juicy tidbits of marine life caused a couple eyebrow raises from our guests, and I found myself once again reveling in how big and vast the world is, when my husband asked, with a mischievous smile, “How do you know these things?”

Freeze. “Uhhh…research?”

“What are you researching?”

Gulp. “Um, astoryidea.”

“What was that?”

Glance from our guests to him, knowing exactly what he is doing (forcing me to talk about my current writing project when that was so NOT where I intended the conversation to go). “Uh…”

Yeah, maybe I need to work on saying, with confidence, “Yes, I’m a writer and I’m working on a new story that provided me with the glorious opportunity to do research and uncover some fun facts that I love sharing with other people, and my story is about…” but since I’m not there yet, I totally froze. The conversation turned awkward as I let some sorry stream of words communicate that I’m an author spill forth from my mouth. All because my husband is proud of me and wants me to share the fact I’m a writer with other people and not feel weird about it. He’s right, I know he is, and I’m working on it, but that doesn’t mean I won’t think before I speak the next time I want to share fascinating discoveries from my book research.

How about you? Any fun tidbits you’ve learned while writing/reading a book that you love sharing?


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