Sweat caresses my aching arms …

A first draft of the Young Writer of the Year ‘Silver’ story. Initial comments from teacher. Please add your feedback below to help Harley develop his story further.

Sweat caresses my aching arms as I strive to lift the overwhelming[U1] pressure of my weakening heart. The beads drench the pores along my cheeks attempting to cool my cartoon red face yet fail as I drown in their thickened texture and perplexing stench. [U2] Their failure is only outdone by my own attempts to force this grey-silver bar above my chest into a holster mere inches’ from my finger tips, inches that are miles apart. Most things seem elongated at this point [U3] so it is not unusual my thin physic is more slender than normal. It does not scare me so much disheartens me. No different to the way watching an ex-lover with someone I know well feels. My body feels distant. Hell, even my eyes feel distant as they watch my legs twitch under the blinding white light protruding from the ceiling. If it weren’t for the increasing strain on my back crystallised by pins and needles in each slipping disk, I am sure this is how it would feel to be weightless – floating in obscurity, without pain or pleasure, into vanishing white. Alone.[U4]

Mirrors watch with a great distaste, their focus not just on me either, but all that cluster the room’s morbid atmosphere. The exasperation of those indulging their vanity [U5] to near obsessive lengths is clear through the mirror’s icy glaze that boxes the room’s contents into an infinite loop of despair. Each way I look there are appears to be another thousand men desperately trying to hide their imperfections that are illuminated by the prosthetic sky. Their shame lingers on my lips as I continue to tremble with frightening intensity, the bar no longer above my head but safely secured by large black rubber stoppers. In my passing daydream a tall handsome young [U6] Irishman had lifted with ease what I had battled with profusely. I thanked him in a defeated tone that I tried to cover with little sincerity, although I am sure he ignored [U7] me as he set to adding weight to what I already conceived to be unmovable.

The rest of the equipment is perplexing with an abrasive manner of operation, each filled with the empty promise of beauty or a less heinous appearance. Not that my appearance will change so much that my eyes will swell with joy, most likely it will change enough that the other’s eyes will not bleed with disgust. Ironically now though there are no eyes, just a sea of heads that are immersed in a similar thought. I can tell they think with my teenage angst, [U8] it’s obvious in the way they move, the way they avoid any sort of contact, the way they mumble profanities under their breath and the way they obsess with their image. Antipathy is the new affinity in our open cult of optimising god’s[U9] perfection. What is right from creation is only hindered by evolution. Healthy living the reason we exist. These and various other slogans are manically forced down the throats of the self-conscious, slightly crazed creatures that fill out this place. Beauty in a war-torn landscape. Yet it is impossible to tell which is which like where the crime ends and the criminal begins.[U10]

I can taste my tongue sliding towards my glands then spitting itself back up into a small pool of phlegm, a signal that my day is over. So with a limp in my right ankle, one that has been strained progressively over the last week, I drag myself towards the changing rooms and search for locker 313. An easy feat considering that most men try with dire perseverance to avoid all humanly contact with one another[U11] , preferring a solipsistic containment [U12] of themselves, if it is only inside the woodwork of the gym. After my belongings have been gathered and contained within my impoverished Velcro bag I jog towards the shore that is only six minutes away if the lights along the away are kind to pedestrians. [U13] Today it has taken a total of eighteen minutes to bypass the intensity of the city’s outstretched clasp. [U14] As the months draw out the journey is taking my day in increments along with other things that I can’t seem to identify.[U15]

When I arrive the waves are only powerful enough to cause small golden crescents upon the sands white exterior[U16] , otherwise the ocean is a child’s pool abandoned for a better toy[U17] . The joy to be found beneath the wondrous teal is still here though and no time need be taken in preparing to succumb to the water. The limp disappearing [U18] as I rid myself of my clothes, not only my shirt and shoes but all the things I am wearing. Hell, even my water proofed watch has disappeared from my butter milk skin. Though exposed, the anxiety seems to disperse as I emerge myself thickened texture of the water and perplexing stench of the oceans salt.[U19] My veins bleed a blue blood and wash my cartoon face of any red overtone, slowly camouflaging my wafting head within the waters hues. It’s a christening of sorts and one that I gladly accept. I’m not Catholic but if they could promise infallibility like the ocean does, I would be. Moments like these are increasingly rare if not disparagingly quick and are well worth my soul. Not that it wants mine.[U20]

As long as I spend floating [U21] furtively within the currents influence, the world beckons my return. I am washed upon the beach without permission yet to re-enter prematurely seems unfair. I dry myself in a slow morbid fashion. I gather my things without much thought[U22] . I turn my back on the rising tide and continue back towards the streets and lights. Alone.


[U1]Don’t use too many adjectives … it over-burdens your images and distracts from the mood and action.

[U2]Same as previous comment. Don’t use more than TWO adjectives per sentence – it’s impossible to visualise what’s being stated.

[U3]Which point? You haven’t created an immediately engaging scene – you need a start that goes ‘bam!’ and engages your reader.

[U4]As a reader right now I am asking myself, ‘Who is this speaker?’ He seems to be some oddly articulate older guy struggling at the gym – is that right?

[U5]work on this – it doesn’t work.

[U6]Three very weak adjectives Harley. You can do better. Each of these adjectives is subjective. Most ppl are tall to me (cos I’m short, right?) and young to me is anyone under 30 (cos I’m 30) but to someone who’s 50 ‘young’ could mean 35 – get it? And ‘handsome’ well – let’s just say that I’m sure our definition of handsome is very different. Don’t leave your reader to guess who he is – be a little more specific. Create him for us – yeah?

[U7]Make your modality higher – more definite, you know?

[U8]This is a little jumbled – what do you mean? I actually thought your character was older.

[U9]Capital ‘G’ God – maybe?

[U10]?? Not sure this is necessary really.

[U11]Do they?? I doubt most people would agree with you!

[U12]Nice.

[U13]Wow – how much action did you just cover in one sentence? New location – new paragraph!

[U14]Nice.

[U15]Doesn’t make sense – what are you trying to say, Harley?

[U16]Gorgeous image!

[U17]Lovely – very Tim Winton!

[U18]??

[U19]This also is a confused sentence – re-write please.

[U20]??

[U21]Fix the start of this sentence – maybe begin with ‘Floating furtively …’

[U22]Re-write this sentence to create a greater resistance of the man and greater strength of nature.

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3 Responses to Sweat caresses my aching arms …

  1. Natasha says:

    Some good tone in the writing. There is a bit much blah in some places … but some lovely attitude. Why is the character in a gym? It doesn’t seem like the sort of person that would get out emotions through gym equipment, maybe a good book and tissues? Try to work on characterising.

  2. Eliza says:

    “I can taste my tongue sliding towards my glands then spitting itself back up into a small pool of phlegm, a signal that my day is over.” Are you trying to disgust the reader, or simply describe something habitual. The use of adjectives lost my interest, be original!

  3. Chelsea :) says:

    I think you have attempted to write your sentences with too much depth, which is ultimately taking away from the story you are trying to tell. You should focus more on ‘writing’ rather than forcing out adjectives. Maybe you could go back through your story and eliminate a few adjectives from every sentence so the reader can actually ‘read’ the story – because at the moment i think your readers will all be struggling with the story because they are trying to read each word separately – like it’s not ‘flowing’. So basically, less descriptive language would improve your writing. 🙂 Description is good & everything, but not when it takes away from the writing. There is more originality in writing with less description – less ‘forcing’. 🙂 But your language is actually very good 🙂
    You just need to learn how to use it. 🙂

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