Descriptive Writing Experiment

Do you have a favourite place that you visit that embodies more than you imagined it would? There is a spot that our family has visited in Grand Cayman. It is one of these places. I had to write a descriptive prompt for my creative writing workshop. It isn't easy to write this way when you are accustomed to business writing or formal legal analytical essays. It is definitely out of my comfort zone, yet it is exciting and energetic.  The other workshop participants are wonderful writers, and it is somewhat intimidating but I am learning and listening. I am focusing on my journey of self-improvement. I thought I would share this piece, with some edits I completed after feedback.  

Colours of Calm

The first time pulling up seems somewhat strange. The cemetery is on the left side of the road, the tombstones the brightest white as if freshly painted. The path to the right of the cemetery is well-worn with roots and grass emerging, a sharp contrast to the white burial space. There are high deep green bushes obscuring the view and providing a respectful separation from the spirits next door. The path treads between something sacred and private, and something inviting. 
West Cemetery from street view (Photographer unknown) caption

After 50 steps, coral-white sand appears, opening up to an expansive beach with hints of pink and golden brown. A pause and inhale seems natural here. The bright light of white makes the colours of the water more brilliant - aquamarine, emerald and sea green combined. The blues and greens are so vibrant the sky is dull in comparison. On a clear day, the water reflects the sun’s rays like diamonds.  The salty sea air merges with this vision, as you breathe in a sense of peace. There are sea grape trees, an island species, that provide some shade and a place to lay towels, coolers and snorkelling gear. A scattering of tourists is at this secluded section of Seven-mile beach. 

Coral close to shore (Photo by Paddy) 

After a short walk through the powdery sand, the warm salt water lets you float freely, and swim out to the reef. It is silent except for the soothing sound of breathing through a snorkel mask. What awaits underneath the crystal water is spectacular. The various shades of brown, green and white coral and plants contrast with the colourful creatures below. The parrot fish with vibrant hues of blue and purple, and the sergeant major fish, yellow, black and white, are so close and almost accessible to touch. There are blue chub and bar jackfish that swim in large schools. If you feed them green peas, they will surround and nibble at you, though it doesn't hurt. With luck, a barracuda, moray eel or mahogany snapper might appear. It is hard to leave the solitude and serenity. [A surprise is always expected, yet always surprising, in this special spot.]

Underwater Coral (Photo by Sam)

The last line only one other person in the group liked. I initially wrote it differently and my reciprocal mentor and friend Lauren provided some feedback. We both agreed it sucked in the first version, but I liked my revised attempt. The other workshop writers use colourful language and descriptors. It turns out describing a beach or sunset is extremely challenging. Perhaps it is because the scene is unbelievably breathtaking that it is difficult to capture the essence of it in words. Or it isn't original? Somehow the photos we take don't show the essence and beauty in the moment. On occasion, you capture it perfectly. As I look at these photos now it is slightly different than I remember but still serene and scenic.

The Gals Enjoying the Vision (Photo by H*Raiser)

I "googled" beach descriptions after I wrote mine and WOW I came across some phenomenal ones.  I think the key is experimenting, being authentic and knowing that the development and uniqueness of your style and voice take time. I am enjoying the workshop and the 30-day challenge of writing 500 words a day. I haven't been successful in completing the challenge every day, but getting there. Many many many of the words I have written are not publishable.  As always I welcome any comments or feedback on what I write, both content, style and any other thoughts you have.

As 2018 unfolds, I plan to visualise some of these moments when I need them. The sunsets, the water, the beach and calm feeling. A way to find calm in a hectic day; a way to meditate, to breathe. Until the next moments are experienced.

Helen, aka H*Raiser, is about to start a Movement. The Life Works Well Movement. Stay Tuned!


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