#News.1: Accepted For Creative Writing Masters degree At Edinburgh University

Dear all,

I have received great news as I am sure you have understood by the title, I have been accepted for a Masters degree in Creative Writing. My hopes are that this will allow me to perfect my writing and become by tenfolds a better writer!

Furthermore, at the end of this degree, alumni are published in a literary magazine. This would be spectacular and could help get my name out there which would by extension enhance my chances of getting a literary agent and being published!

I will continue to post as regularly as possible and keep practicing my style which undoubtedly will improve dramatically throughout the year as I plan on working very hard on bettering my writing.

Kind regards,

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.2

The second part of this first exercise follows similar instructions to the first with the added suggestion that the writer must describe an action or person feeling strong emotion. And to translate – through the movement of the prose- the emotions ( From: Steering the Craft, A 21st Century Guide to Sailing the Sea of Story)

Here, for my second piece of writing following the given instructions, I imagined a scene where a character is engulfed by an all-powerful feeling of grief and must overcome it. I attempted to portray, through the sound and rhythm of my prose, the pain felt by a character upon receiving a tragic news, as well as to make the tension of the moment be felt, and her bravery for powering through it all:

FIGHT!

What went first when the grave news was delivered by Thaltybius was the bottom-half of my face.  My lips hung limply like two pieces of raw flesh glued onto a pristine white dinner plate.  My jaw, incessantly clamped and released in sporadic spasms, quacking loudly, teeth grinding onto one another.  Tears streamed down freely, cascading on the bumps of my cheeks, unrestrained.  Too necessary to be restrained.  My eyes stared out before me at the great nothing, dead.  Two useless globes of grief.  Seeing but not truly seeing.  Present yet not truly present and haunting in their absence.  My mind was elsewhere, with him.

Next, it was my body that gave in.  Crumpling and crashing loudly on the ground like a tree whose trunk has been split open and cruelly chopped down by a Lumberjacks’ unforgiving axe.
Then, I lay there, feeling all the years of held-in pain catch up to me. He had been the only reason I had managed to keep it all stowed within, and now, now…well, now there was nothing.  Only pain, sorrow and an absence that made itself felt.  When I met him, I had been but a lonely little girl, lost and confused in world of infectious folly.  And he had arrived with his smile and blind confidence and he had been there when I needed it, always.  My pillar.  My centre.  My power.
The strength with which I wielded my spear in battle came from the knowledge that he would always be there, waiting with his smile that could launch a thousand armies in his name, had he attempted to use it as a weapon of mass persuasion.
Around me I could hear the screams of comrades begging me to get myself together and to quickly devise a new battle plan.  But, their pleas were directed at the wrong person.  The cause that was theirs was no longer mine.  It appeared all so insignificant now.

We had started this war in the name of freedom.  A rebellion against the old ways.  At least, that was the surface of it.  To us, it was an affirmation.  A fight for us to be together.  And now he was dead so it mattered no longer.  I looked up to Bron’seilk who stood by my side and she stared back.  I saw my pain reflected in her eyes. Yet, deep within I saw something else, something different, something I no longer possessed.  Determination.
Bron’seilk forced herself to smile at me and I could see how hard it had been for her to do so.  Her eyes were moist and vibrant.  Ready to pour their content at any instant.
‘Fight!’ she said, ‘Fight for all the lovers of this dreadful world.  Fight to give them a better chance!  And, fight so that this may never happen again!’.  And her words seemed to reverberate within me, as without noticing, without thinking it, my body had abruptly risen to its own two feet.  I maintained my gaze on her for a while.  Then, nodded.  She was right.  I would fight, to my last breath.  With all I had.  And, when all this would be over, I would cry as long as I would need on her shoulder. And, I would lend her mine, for as long as she would need it.

I shifted my focus back to the matter at hand, and immediately began to hatch out new plans[…]

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

Style Training With Ursula K. Le Guin[Project Explained]

I am currently reading ‘Steering the Craft, A 21st-Century guide to sailing the sea of Story’ by the incredible Ursula K. Leguin. This book contains a few writing exercises to do in order to better one’s writing style and narrative skills.
From now on, I will be posting the text I write using these specific exercises. I may do the same ones more than once due to the obvious fact that: practice makes perfect and doing something once does not guarantee it will stick with you.
I hope it will prove interesting for some. As style exercises are a great way to see a writer improve step by step. And, I highly hope it will be my case using this book. The book in itself is awesome, the author of it speaks for itself. Ursula K.Leguin is quite simply an amazing writer.

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