27th June 2017

Creative Writing

The Vibe, by Ben Harrington

It was an early start for halfpipe training on the frosty July morning.  It was still dark as I dragged my stiff sleepy body out of the café onto the lift.  I stood on the top the mountain, and breathed in the crisp cool air swarming around me.  I took in my surroundings as the sun began to rise, basking the entire mountain in its blazing colours of yellow and red. I felt pretty happy to be alive.

I remember a time when I didn’t feel this good before an event. A time when I couldn’t tap into the vibe which felt that nothing could go wrong, nothing was impossible and nothing would ever dampen this feeling of pure joy.

It was a terrible day, one that I loathe to remember. It started with the wind. As soon as I opened the door I felt it pounding against my body, forcing me backwards. My heart began to sink; I couldn’t compete in these conditions, there was no way I would do well. Negative thoughts continued to cloud my brain. “I don’t want to be here” is all I could think.  Even worse, I made no attempt to push them away.  

Once I got on the slopes, nothing went well.  It was cold, training was going bad and before I knew it, my name was called to the start gate, the wind pressed against my body, holding me back.  Standing in the gate, I felt a sense of  false hope. I finally pushed myself out, hearing nothing except the evil whistling of the wind and feeling the eyes of everyone watching me.  All it took was the first jump for me to crumble; I felt the tears begin to run down my face.

At ten years old, failure was not part of my vocabulary yet; I had not planned for such an unexpected disaster. Even before my run had started though, I had already crashed in my mind.  It seems crazy; there was a time when I couldn’t rise to the occasion, when I couldn’t ski to my best ability, or  unbelievably, when I wasn’t happy to be skiing at all.

Beams of the sun began to slowly melt the ice of my goggles, putting a smile on my face. Looking down the halfpipe, I got that rich feeling of being alive. I  feel so good  and know there is nowhere else I want to be right now. I cross my skis, look at the sky, pat my chest, breathe in the fresh, cool mountain air, I am ready to compete.

Join the conversation! 2 Comments

  1. In our conversation, Ben, I identified that you’ve selected a very rich idea for this piece. It suits the task well, especially because you’ve elected to talk about the same location and concentrate on how you have changed as opposed to the location itself. Remember you’ll now need to make changes to your description of that location in order to reflect how you are different across time.

    I encouraged you to ensure you make a 50/50 split between the ‘now and then’ sections as this structure is required by the task itself. (Though we agreed that a final line that returns to the present is acceptable – and indeed desirable)

    My criticism focussed on your use of figurative language which I would call ‘uncontrolled’ at the moment. We looked at the example of “the crisp cool air swarming around me” and I challenged you to explain to me how the notion of ‘swarming’ accurately captures the experience of being in the cool mountain air. We discussed ensuring you attempt to access all 5 senses in your description and ultimately to try to evoke the atmosphere of the mountain in a way that would convey the experience even to someone who has never seen snow.

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  2. Hi Ben, this is going well. The discussion we had focussed on the following:

    1) The 50/50 split mentioned above is mandatory
    2) Focus your description on the sensory details – create a situation where your reader can experience a frozen July morning on the Halfpipe even if they’d never been in snow, which means you have to tell them what being there is like, not just name it.
    3) We’ll then look at the specific sentence-level writing and ensure it’s also supporting excellent setting description.

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