Creative Writing Course Exercise #1; By Issa Dioume

For my Creative writing course at the University of Edinburgh, I have had to do a lot of interesting exercises. I thought I could share one with the online community, for all who may be interested in trying things out in prose.
The exercise consisted of imitating the structure of Fibonnaci Spirals, to come up with a short-story. I did so in class. It brought about an interesting piece and had an interesting effect on my writing. I think it is one to try out. The basic structure of a Fibonnaci Spirals goes like this: 1,1,2,3,5,8,13,21 for the first paragraph and 34, 21,13,8,5,3,2,1,1 for the second. (Numbers above indicate amount of words per sentence). Writing with constraints can bring about some very good pieces, I would advice all other writers to have a go at this exercise and see what comes of it. Furthermore, once you have respected the structure, you can tweak the prose and break away from the constraints in the editing phase, as you will notice I have done in some instances of my story below. Enjoy! Have fun trying this out! Let’s learn!

                                                            Fibonacci Spirals

Boiling. Sun. Clammy hands. Perspiring human frames. Ice cream evaporating off cones. The summer season has sunk its teeth in. A cigarette burgeons out an onlookers vibrant lips, drawing a red sun at its tip. Plumes of smoke escape from his lungs with every exhaled breath, they are welcomed with open arms by the quivering air.

Stephenson sits leaned back against the small bus stand box encircling him like a precious pearl in an oyster shell, eyes shut, breath wheezy, hands clasped into clumps of pink flesh, head drooping downwardly. He’d been running outside all day with his friends Tammy and Tommy, they’d never taken a break, not once. He wondered what would happen to them once the year drew its curtains. He would go far away, no longer be nearby. His parents’ jobs required it. Would they still be friends? Not solely today. He sighed. Tomorrow. After.

 

#1 Flash-Fiction by Issa Dioume

                                                               Candles

The sun rose over a dismal scene. As he lies there, quiet and unbreathing, it struck me how my brother could even in death, do two things at once. He both did a lot and nothing at all, while blood pooled under him. On one hand, he hurt me. Pierced me. Burnt me to the core. On the other, he simply lay there with the dead eyes of a fish, absent of any sign of intelligence. The red under him blossoms. Drawing a pair of wings on the kitchen floor. Tomorrow, I think, tomorrow is my birthday. I grin at him then. For I am grateful to him. That he didn’t die on that day.
His dead eyes hurt me. In the way a finger pointed at me would. I felt them to be smiling and telling me “You’re next Johnny boy. You’re next.” I could just taste the disappointment towards me in them.

Jutting from his thorax is half the glint of a blade. The rest is buried, within his frame. I look at my hands and ask them why they grabbed the knife. It’d been a normal day. All was normal. So why had they grabbed the handle?

Style Training With Ursula K. Le Guin, Exercise.2: Am I Saramago {2nd attempt}

Following Jane Dougherty’s advice (a talented fellow writer on this platform), I tried my hand at this exercise from Ursula K. Leguin’s book 📚 a second time. However, with a descriptive approach this time to see if it might work better. Also, I employed a lot of ‘logical connectors’.
Please tell me how I did!

UrsulaKLeGuin
[ A picture of the writer behind the book herself: Ursula K. Le Guin]

My attempt:

“Her coat was of a blushing rose colour when I saw her exit the supermarket at the end of the street and take a sharp left turn as she headed for the trams but it was not the kind of rose that you see on the fully dewed petals of pink morning roses when the entire world is still basking in the assuaging cradle of dreams but more like the kind of rose you see in those bright almost fluorescent bubblegum commercials with a kaleidoscope of different flashing lights that stab aggressively at your eyes from all imaginable angles and that have this sort of particularly attention-grabbing attribute to them that just reels you in and makes you drool at the mouth despite you trying to patiently remind yourself that on the contrary you don’t even like gum all that much anyway because you have always  found the texture disgusting and furthermore you consider the sugary taste overwhelmingly sweet yet somehow or another those cursed commercials still easily succeed in making you entirely forget all that and have you believe you can almost just vividly taste what the person behind the glaring screen currently enacting his or her role for the advertisement can taste as he or she chews on their big pink fleshy piece of rubber with a big glistening grin splashed across the canvas of their face while they repeat the catchphrase of  whichever brand sells the advertised item which you know is likely distributed by big bucks companies who hold no regard for how many rivers of poor countries they have polluted solely in order to manufacture their cheap product in heaps and get them into the hands of zombie consumers such as yourself who mindlessly consume whatever they advertise to you hence why you are wholly aware of all those things and why they plague you so with guilt as you make your way towards the cashier with your stupid two dollar packet of chewing gum thus basically admiting and bending the knee to the fact that despite everything they always succeed in making you wholly forget your feeble values when their blinding ads flash across your Tv screen and your mouth inevitably begins telling you that it craves that cheap piece of chewy plastic since all those chewy things look so appetizing and tempting and oh so gorgeous in their pinkish dressing after all”

– Issa Dioume

Style Training With Ursula K. Le Guin, Exercise.2: Am I Saramago {1st attempt}

The instructions for this 3rd piece of writing practice are as follows:

“Write a paragraph to a page 150-350 words of narrative with no punctuation (and no paragraphs or other breaking devices).”

As always, here is my 1st attempt at this exercise, ENJOY! :

“The birds were falling in mass from the sky and people were rushing and running about all over the streets as though red ants had crawled down their trousers they clamoured about and elbowed their ways across the stream of people outside desperate to avoid getting hit and some were seeking shelter in cafés and bars while others just ran desperately with bags or briefcases over their heads as they hurried to work or wherever it was that they had to be and I stood there simply looking up at the sky wondering why this was happening at all as I recall it had started off a couple of weeks ago when suddenly a hailstorm of lifeless birds had been observed falling off the edges of the sky in gallops around some beaches of Spain close to Santander and very soon the phenomenon was reported happening all across the globe the experts naturally claimed it was some sort of flu or something to do with the pollution in the air but I knew as I stood there watching men bumping into one another violently I knew as they hurried about still trying to maintain a semblance of  civility amidst this catastrophic event as they continued to head to their jobs despite the horrible forecast weather of well bird rain that had laster for so long already obviously it was perfectly normal as this had never happened before everything had remained perfectly sensible and logical and controllable but suddenly chaos had erupted and nobody had any idea how to carry on with their lives with this weather  and cars could no longer drive calmly down the streets as they would undoubtedly get pierced by a falling pigeon or falcon should the schools be closed down was what questioned one political figure on some tv show I saw last night he did not have an answers for why this was happening and seemed very reluctant to admit the reality of what was happening but I do yes I know now as I did then on the very first day all this began taking place that there was no explaining it the world had simply gone mad and that the weather and seasons we had for so long been able to trust and take for granted had all been completely spun around on their heads my theory was proved a few months later when came what would be remembered as the moowinter when cows began spouting out of the clouds overhead in hoards but sadly that was only the begining”

I had a lot of fun writing this one hahaha. I hope it will prove as enjoyable as it was to write. The aim is to understand where punctuation is necessary for one’s punctuation style and what does a lack of said punctuation bring to one’s work for one it can bring a certain style or a feeling of a rush or speed all of which are stylistic attributes which can be used to elevates one’s style depending on the story one is attempting to write. I recommend testing out this exercise writing a scene where something hectic is happening, I think it truly helps translate that feeling onto paper.

– Issa Dioume

The Fall [Short-Story] by Issa Dioume

…I’ve been falling for a while now – uncontrollably tumbling downwards. I’m certain I have already seen this very same scene before, somewhere deep within the misty forests of my memory. Surrounded by grand blue skies as I ride the gusts of winds leading me earthward, to the ground. There’s no use resisting, of course, so I simply let myself be guided without insisting; gliding in a whimsical sea of air-currents rocking me to and fro as though I were the ball in a prolonged ping-pong match between two great invisible beings.

Time stretches out differently up here. At the confluence of sugary heaps of clouds and the brown delicious earth, one sort of loses that sense of belonging one has when seeping into earth’s soil or assembling in sweating cotton skies. Gravity can make one feel overly heavy and confined, sometimes. And, in clouds, one is just waiting – anticipating the inevitable fall. So, out here a considerable weight is lifted off one’s shoulders.

I am falling – still. Of course. Closing in on the awaiting ground. Nonetheless, I am not worried. It is natural, after all – that I should fall. Don’t we all? I half-expect to see flashes of past events traverse my mind’s eye. It’s what one would expect, right? Unsurprisingly, nothing happens, it’s far too clouded for thoughts to pierce through. The sound produced by my body rushing through space is mellifluous, and the rays from above – oh! Those elegant rays! Carrying warm caresses from the sun which bounce off my coating; in sum creating a sort of ethereal dazzling molten light. Making me into liquid-sunshine. What a sight to witness and experience!

Everything appears so much more beautiful from up here. I can probably see everything, surely. But, I am falling. At such a speed and from such a high place that I could have been thrown from the very heavens themselves. One could surmise that I would be burning up right now. Like crashing meteorites do when seduced by earth’s charm. Strangely, I feel fresh, fresher and more alive than I can recall ever feeling.
I know this moment is short-lived, but I also know it is worth a lot on the scale of things this biosphere has to offer.  And, I am a part of it. Under my belly, humans are occupied – scurrying about, always in a hurry, always busy, occupied with their well-recited day-to-day routines, never truly taking the time to look above their own heights, at the looming skyline and, at me. Comparatively the sky gives off the impression of moving in slow motion, impervious to the commotion of those gravity-chained creatures.
Yet, some of those beings, like me, are in the sky. On that aircraft, over there, leaving noxious imprints of white over softly lapping sapphire oceans – spreading its great dead wings which reflect sweltering rays at me.
I can see their fleshy faces behind bizarre transparent discs. Do they take the time to look out their windows and let the view sink in?  I wonder. A view so resplendent and breath-taking it would take years for one to describe fully. A view composed of a deep blue sky and, with a radiantly blinding sun illuminating everything in its path, and birds chirping and soaring through the sky like tiny little arrows piercing through clouds; those magnificent clouds rolling and roaring like the rushing waves pounding the shores. Sometimes puffy, or, at times no more than mere wisps of all shapes and sizes dashing across our azure ceilings’ tapestry, as if guided by the hand of a painter ceaselessly accomplishing his masterpiece. This view is priceless when compared to all million-dollar paintings, the spectacles that can be seen on this little planet are jaw-dropping. One might even say ineffable, you must see it in order to understand it. At times, our emotions speak of what our minds’ dictionary cannot.
I only just dodge the plane. Had I hit it, my course would have undoubtedly met a violent end. As with every race, there must be a start a middle and, naturally, an end. In this world all of us tend to hope that dreaded expiration date never comes knocking at our doorsteps, but, it never fails to do so and, always will. Despite everything, we might tell ourselves. Just like proud petals gliding off the summit of roses – one day or another, we must all fall. It is vital to the very cycle of nature and life we so avidly safeguard.
Below, the houses which used to be, but, vast fields of dots spread across a wide plane have morphed into big square cement blocks. I am sailing directly to a tree surrounded by greenery lazing like lizards in the sun. It seems the time to play my part in the natural cycle of life has arrived. I only hope that……..

I am in a park, standing there, fairly vertically and doing nothing. I could probably move, run, or, even dance but, I see no need to do so. All that I require is already here, around me is the beauty of life. I feel the wind rustling my skin causing me to shudder. It is so powerful that, sometimes, I need to bend and twist my body in order to not be uprooted. However, today it is not so robust. So, I stand there, sturdy and disinclined to move, merely observing the pedestrians pass by. Some solitary, some coupled in twos or threes, sometimes reading books next to me, or, running or walking those four-legged creatures called ‘good dog’, or ‘Rex’, or ‘Max’ or, ‘Cookie’ on leashes. I wonder if they see me. None has ever come to say hello. But their four-legged creatures do sometimes. In their own, bizarre, fluid ways.

I feel the veins of my body beckoning me: I am thirsty. And, this thirst cannot be quenched by what I find around me. I think to myself that, I may have to break my vow to never move. But, suddenly, my worries are stifled as onto me the first droplet of the day hits one of my leaves. And, I know that unfailingly more will soon follow, pouring down like little beads of crystal spouting out from the mouths of clouds, a place I can never see. Once more, I must thank them for what they bring me: Life. For they are what helps me to stay as strong and as long as I am. Without them, I wouldn’t be able to shelter all the pedestrians who are now hiding beneath my leaves from this deluge from another world that is, to them, cumbersome.

…it helps.

–  ISSA DIOUME

Style Training With Ursula K. Leguin, Exercise.1; Part.1

The following written piece which you will read is a result of my first attempt at testing out an approach to writing advised by the exceptional Ursula K. Leguin. For the first exercise, Leguin chooses to focus on the sound of prose and its importance. Reminding us that prose does not have to be poetry to sound great! She gives a few examples of texts where the sound of prose aids greatly to make the reader feel what is going on and to set the entire atmosphere of the piece. How for example, certain sounds or alliterations are used to translate ideas of sadness or of  joy or of action. And explain the intricacies of the ‘movement’ of prose.

Here is the result of my first attempt of the first exercise of  
Steering the Craft
[…] by Ursula K. Leguin, she suggested two plot possibilities to try out the learned techniques (Climax of a ghost story or Inventing and Island and events which occur on it) :

Georges, Shipwrecked

On an island in the far-off ocean called Pumpernickel, a lone man washes ashore.  Time passes unperturbed until, finally, he wakes.  George was this man’s name.  And George was a man of little words.  He had been a fleet admiral on one of Her Majesty’s many vessels when suddenly, a storm broke out, sinking his ship and throwing him along with his crewmates overboard and to the mercy of the oceans capricious currents.
And, as George rose from the sandy beach to take in his surroundings, he wondered how he had survived and whether any other survivors had been carried to this little piece of land.
George was a tall and lanky man.  He often stood a head higher than most of the men he had come across in his lifetime.  But now, George had no one to be taller than.  And the absence of other human beings was a feeling quick to wash over him as he circled the islands’ coast for hours before returning to the same spot having met no one other than, his own shadow.
He was left with no other option but to accept the unavoidable:  He was alone, and he was lost and soon he would be hungry too and in dire need of shelter.  He knew he had to make a swift decision as the sun was dimming on the horizon and its light would slowly dwindle until naught remained but the afterglow.
So, George opted to build a house first for rain might come during the night and without a roof he would get wet and getting wet would give rise to sickness.  Which would in turn leave him in no state to be rummaging around the island for nourishment.
George built himself a small hut out of palm leaves and sticks in front of the entrance to the islands’ forest.  As floor and bed, he used sand which he brought from the beach.  And in the comfort of his improvised hut, George lay comfortably resting on the sandy floor.  He employed carefully the time before sleep arrived to take him away from this nightmare, by trying to guess where he might be.  He had been sailing on course for the West indies and had just about completed half the journey before the storm broke out.  But, the storm had carried them way off course for a while before the ship sank.  So, he could not ascertain where he had been.  And putting his memory through hard and strenuous work he attempted to recall all the courses Her Majesty’s vessels took when heading for the West Indies. He hoped one ship might pass by the island on which he was marooned for provisions or a quick rest.  Then, perhaps, he might be rescued.
George shivered.  Not from the cold.  He knew how unlikely that scenario was.  Yet, he hoped all the same for a miracle.  But he was tired, and his bones still ached from the ocean waves his body had been rumbled through.  So, he went to sleep hoping that night would bring him many a solution.

By Issa Dioume

Jenny Ran Sur The Colline —- French & English !But, Same Themes & Ideas (By Issa Dioume in collaboration with Aimé Lesot)

Jenny courait sur la colline. Ses fossettes creusaient ses joues, témoignaient de sa joie manifeste. Ses pieds martelaient le chemin en terre, laissaient des empruntes et délogeaient les petits cailloux de leur cratère dorénavant appauvris. Devant: un horizon sans ligne – seulement de grands arbres, feutrant les rayons du soleil. Derrière: seulement le souvenir de ce qu’elle avait entraperçu dans sa course dépourvue de but premier. Elle était seule – heureuse – et jouissait de son isolation mouvante.

Solace, to her, was the fruit of exile and isolation. After moving from Maxmouth – a beautiful city in the countryside- to the big concrete urban jungle of San Peregio the stability of her family’s life, which had once been harmonious and a source of happiness for Jenny, came tumbling down. The earlier congeniality now found itself replaced by perpetual pandemonium. This was tantamount to swimming up a river and suddenly finding yourself falling off the edges of a waterfall.

Elle tombait souvent. Ses genoux et ses coudes étaient couverts de petites cicatrices – de croûtes quand elle venait à perdre l’équilibre. Jenny savait qu’il était impossible à l’Homme de remonter une chute d’eau, elle avait tenté, maintes fois, sans succès. Les courants nous poussent en un sens, un peu à la manière de la providence. De ce raisonnement métaphysique elle en avait déduit que rien ne pouvait se rembobiner, que tout était à assimiler, à comprendre, et que le rebond ne valait le plongeon que lorsqu’un soupçon de relief – de joie – pointait derrière un nuage. Et puis elle l’avait vu dans le ciel; et aujourd’hui elle avait décidé de nager à contre courant.
Elle courait, et derrière les arbres et le soleil feutré s’écrasait l’eau en bas d’une chute.

And she declared to the wind, thinking aloud, “Speak my name to the ventriloquist, beg him to stop cramming words into my mouth. Pain is the substance society thrives on. It thrives off of subjecting its subjects to pain” and she suddenly understood” I am the ventriloquist.” The camera panned out, zoomed through the air and framed a boy pedalling up a hill. As he pedalled away, the load became quite substantive and a bit rough on his calves. Nevertheless, the little boy went onwards to the top of the hill and there, stood admiring the sunshine.

By

Issa Dioume (English);poet/writer/lover of words

&

Aimé Lesot (French); poet/writer/ philosophy addict

English Writer’s website:

https://thebiligualwriter.com

French Writer’s website:

https://aimelesot.wordpress.com

Where Do They All Fall? [Flashfiction] by Issa Dioume

My boiling blood told me they all fall one day, grow stark cold, then roll away, forgotten. Leaving behind a sweet serenade of stupor accompanied by the slow dwindling of memories. My boiling blood told me it would go cold turkey one day, too; simply stop warming my bones and flesh.Without warning. I know yet fear the cold. I can’t yet wish to escape its grasp, but then again, where would I go? I am tied by a twig to the tree of life, dangling in midair and ripe for the plucking.

At night, I hear flowing blood reverberating in my ears, urging me to listen to the beating drum of my heart; a repetitive rhythm slowly coming to a stop.

In winter my blood boils warmer, to keep me safe from the freeze. It’s effective. It cares for me, I think.

The landscape unravels like a fakir deploying his magical carpet and slowing floating toward the sky and off into the sunset. The clouds are pretty today. I didn’t quite like yesterday’s clouds. What will tomorrow’s be like? It’s, perhaps, not something people care for but, I do. I care, for clouds.

And, I care about where they all go when they fall. Those boiling fruits of blood. Hanging loosely from that dreadful tree.

A TUMULTUOUS VOYAGE, Part. 7 [Short-Story Series] by Issa Dioume

[…]  Bramin turned his head around. He found the way back now barred, by what appeared to be two gigantic similar-looking men. Probably twins, he thought.

He stepped forward, mentally steeling himself, slowly making his way to where the trio stood; waiting, with evil smirks across their faces.
He opted to head for the target which seemed simplest to quickly take out. The young boy. Strategically, it was the logical option. The boy appeared to possess ranged weapons, which could  be used to shoot at Bramin from a distance, and hamper him in his fight. A headache he did not want to face.

” Hello! What do you sweet gentlemen want, at this early hour? he said, closing in on them, I am in a hurry. I have somewhere to be. And, the journey to get here was not a cakewalk.”

The unconcerned sun began to point its nose in the horizon. Sending streaks of light splashing into the streets. Allowing Bramin to better assimilate his surroundings.
Suddenly, the stooge-looking fellow approached with an assured smile. However, Bramin could see the man was not confident. What betrayed him? His speed, he walked too slowly, too cautiously, clearly wary of the young man facing him. He took his time and made sure not to get in Bramin’s range, or, what he thought was his range.

“We are exhausted as well from our own journey. It would make it easier for everyone if you simply handed over your possessions without making us have to take your life.” He sized Bramin up with a quick glance then said ” You are fairly young, don’t waste the years your mother spent caring for you by being reckless.”

Here we go, thought Bramin. Now the words had been spoken, there was no going back. Either he would do as they told him and risk being gutted all the same, or, they would fight and, someone would die. What remained to be decided was: whom?. He was severely outnumbered, his only chance hanged on whether he could outclass them in terms of skills and outsmart them. Silence pervaded the air. Weighing on everyone’s mind.
“I prefer the two other options, Bramin filled his voice full of intimidation and power, I live and you let me pass through unobstructed. Or, you attempt to stop me, fail miserably, die in regret and I take possessions off some lifeless cadavers. Yours. All of yours.”

The stooge-looking fellow, grabbing the hilt of his sword, looked over his shoulder and said ” Well, we gave him the choice now, didn’t we? Whatever happens now, is destiny’s will.” The two others smiled stupidly back.
Bramin drew his sword. Pulling on its haft until it hung high up in the air. And, brought it down on him with one swift strike across the chest. The speed of the strike made it barely visible to the naked eye. The man hardly had the time to spin his head back to admire the scarlet result. His face showed incredulity as he starred down at the line on his thorax from which blood now spurted out, like an erupting volcano. *Clank* He sank to the ground and remained there. Forever.

The smiling duo ahead now looked quite grim. Their smiles had been wiped off their faces along with Bramin’s strike. What remained was O-gaping  mouths followed by ugly grimaces.
Bramin leapt forward. Rushing towards the young boy. The two giants behind finally reacted and started running after him, but, it was too late. Bramin reached the boy and, using the blunt edge of his sword, attempted to knock the boy out. On his right, the one that had looked like the leader rushed forth and parried the strike with great effort. Pushed back by the strike, he landed squarely his rump. I should have used the slicing edge, thought Bramin admonishing himself, then, there would be two of him right now.

Before he could get back to his feet, Bramin rushed towards him – sword raised high up. Abruptly, he felt a blade dig into his ribs. Damn! Forgot the kid! Bramin pulled a small star-shaped blade out of his sides and threw it towards the gigantic mammoths heading his way. Then, he ran. Past the boy, leaping over the man on his back; Dodging, as more flying-stars were sent his way.
He backed up in a tight sombre alley and waited. This time, they would have to come to him. As prey now became predator. Blood flowed down to his sides but he remained sharp as a sword. Ready. For, whatever would come next, he had already played out in his head […]

Written by Issa Dioume

Author’s website: thebiligualwriter.com

Previous part of the story:
A TUMULTUOUS VOYAGE (Part 6)

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