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!

[ 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

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

  1. You managed to carry this piece all in one breath which is quite an achievement! What I would say though is that you end up a long way from the opening idea of the woman walking to the tram. Is the woman of any interest in the piece at all, or is she just the wearer of a pink coat? Is the bubble gum a digression or is it central? If it’s the woman who’s important and not the confectionery industry wouldn’t it have been easier just to say she was wearing a bubblegum pink coat? Can you have a sentence that starts off with one subject and ends up with a completely different one?
    It’s easy to lose sight of the wood for the trees in this kind of exercise. If you simply omit the punctuation you get something that’s unreadable, and if you write like you have done, a very long, rambling but grammatically coherent sentence, we’re still asking at the end, but what is he trying to say? I still haven’t worked out what the point of this exercise is!

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  2. Well, it is only a focus on style written in a close to ‘stream of consciousness’ approach which is why the narrator keeps jumping from one subject to the other as he is simply buying his piece of gum. It works through association of ideas: pink reminds him of something and he goes off and completely gets lost in his thoughts and ideas. Simply from the idea of a colour he goes on to criticize the industry of chewing-gum. Here it’s more for a comedic effect than anything else. Well, at least, that was how things presented themselves to me in my mind. It feels as though things flow much better.


  3. From what I can work out it is to work on the ‘sound’ of your prose as it is being read by someone. Since my character goes completely bonkers simply by looking at a coat I am trying to use this style to suggest how wild and quick his thoughts are travelling his mindspace. However, in a typical piece I would have surrounded this tirade of thoughts with two paragraphs which use grammar correctly to show how the character is ‘normally’.


  4. They do flow, very well. And the effect is of a stream of consciousness. That comes over perfectly. It’s the point of the exercise that I still don’t get. Maybe I’m just being obtuse.


  5. No. You are not at all. Ursula talked about the idea of ‘consciously’ breaking rules of grammar. It can be done well only if the writer is doing it fully aware of what he or she is aiming for. She calls this exercise a ‘pure consciousness-raiser’ to get us to think about the value of punctuation by forbidding us from using it’ Then, it must be read aloud. And the ideal in a group would be to test when the author reads it aloud and when another individual does so and observe the different cases. She asks us to think of how the unbroken flow of words fit the subject ( which I justified earlier) and to what extent does the unpunctuated flow shape the narrative. Then she asks us to consider how it felt writing it and how it differed from writing with the usual signs and guides and breaks. Whether it led you to write differently or gave you a different approach to something you’ve tried to write. Then she gives a sentence as an example:”All that is is all that is not is not that that is not that is all”


  6. Well yes but here the wildness is given by the absence of pauses and a familiar structure. Typically, the ra-ta-tat effect is indeed used. I have seen some of the three-line tales photo prompts here and there but have never participated, no. Thank you for sharing!


  7. I think she’d have to read me that sentence aloud! It certainly looks like nothing on earth! I think I see what she’s driving at, but I still think you have to be a damn good writer to be able to get a message across without punctuation. If it’s to be read aloud by the writer, then he/she knows where to pause and stress. If it’s to be read aloud by someone else, you still need pointers.


  8. Well here is the sentence with grammar. It’s almost like a logic test, seriously – once punctuation flies out the window: All that is is; All that is not is; Not that that is is not that that is not that is all.

    Basically the sentence: “All that is” in itself is “All that is not is” All you need to make sense is three semicolons, you could use periods but it would be jerky explains Ursula Le Guin.

    I left out the last semi-colon so you can enjoy finding it yourself ¨^^¨ Well Ursula was a damn good writer! Which is why I must learn from her! 🙂


  9. Yes, I guess this, does take it things up a notch for us. But it is the aim of the book… even though it forces me to look at how bad I am compared to Ursula in writing… It shows me too that there is so much room to grow.


  10. Haha yes… Exactly… Verbal Rubik’s Cube! I could not have said it better… I had to twist and turn my brow more than once in order to see it… She was just that good.


  11. Oh, I’m aware of the gulf. I will never come anywhere near the great Ursula so I’m trying to keep a style of my own. It’s easy to get despondent if you think you ought to be that good. Best to pootle along in the slow lane 🙂

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  12. Haha yes but she started writing quite late I believe… work is what breeds such fine writers… it’s nice to see what they did well… but one should perhaps not hang over it for to long… or you will begin to compare yourself to them… but how can I do so when my journey is only beginning. I only hope to find a good prose. A style my own that I can use swiftly. 🙂


  13. Try breaking it down without any punctuation and place semi-colons at numerous places… you are bound to find the right combination eventually. She says we need 3 semi-colons to make the sentence work… so there must be three Clauses ? 🙂 are there three verbs and subjects?


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