A Story of A Mat

Try the following exercise, which will mimic the process pf note-making and the establishing of connections.

First choose an object of some kind and place it in front of you. It can be the blue vase you bought in Greece, full of Greek sea and sky or something as simple as an item of clothing.

Once you have the object, describe it in as close detail as possible, including the five senses without forcing it.

The Mat

It sets there all the time, doesn’t have a choice where to be or where to go. It has to be there for a reason, a reason it has not chosen.

What can it do? It’s just wants to run away from all the hundred feet that step on her, its just a door mat and that’s the way it is. The smell of different shoes and different feet, the agony of people leaving and not coming back to her warmth again leaves it torn inside.

The taste of humiliation when it is handled as if it is nothing, as if it is just a piece to complete the furniture and make the house looks neat and tidy makes it want to shrink and not provide the people with its services, but it feels all worth it when the mat feels an appreciating wet shoes running from the rain outside and a cold freezing foot resting on the softness of the its surface.

The Drunks and My Sundays

Workshop exercise in Haiku

Write a short story. Very short. One hundred words. You have ten minutes.

I was in the DLR coming from work and as I started writing then a drunk started speaking loud about how barbaric we, Muslims, are. It’s just so hilarious because every Sunday after I finish my work in Taiybun, I had to see one of those losers, who drink their heads off in the morning and by 16:00 pm they are just so drunk and they try to scare the first victim they see who happened to be a Hijabi girl wearing glasses and burying her head in her book. Shows how brave they are for choosing me for their Sunday drunken harassments.

Sitting down in the train, bothered by the loud voice of a drunk, but she is not afraid any more, she knows she is stronger than all that. He mumbles and he mumbles, and then he throws a line. He thinks that people are listening to him but no one even cares about what he is saying.

She wants to just delve deep into her thoughts, her plans, her dreams.

He is provoking other people so they pay attention to him but he doesn’t even know what he is talking about.

Just the look of his drunken face is so despicable… he is giving her a headache now… Oh Thank God he finally got off the train, and now she can swim deep in the ocean of her thoughts, she felt thankful her left so all the emotions he stirred in her would stop, but will they stop? Or she will take it out on herself or someone else? Now here comes her stop, she better get ready to get off.


Change the Gender of one of the character of the story, without changing anything else, and read it out again alongside the original. What happens? How much of the story is the same? How much of it changes or shifts and why? This is an excellent way to bring preconceptions to surface or to spot them in the prose.

Sitting down in the train, bothered by the loud voice of a drunk, but he is not afraid any more, he knows he is stronger than all that. The drunk mumbles and he mumbles, and then he throws a line. He thinks that people are listening to him but no one even cares about what he is saying.

The young man wants to just delve deep into his thoughts, his plans, his dreams, but the drunk is provoking other people so they pay attention to him but he doesn’t even know what he is talking about.

Just the look of his drunken face is so despicable… he is giving him a headache now… Oh Thank God he finally got off the train, and now he can swim deep in the ocean of his thoughts, he felt thankful that the drunk left so all the emotions he stirred in him would stop, but will they stop? Or he will take it out on himself or someone else? Now here comes his stop, he better gets ready to get off.


Day 07

Creative Writing Work-shy

By Ali Smith

This article is full of writing exercises so I’ll try to do one exercise a day.

A useful Exercise called Image-Music-Text

This is an exercise best done quickly. It can double as a poem in its own right.

Write down the first image that comes into your head.

Write down the first emotion that comes into your head.

Write down the first line that comes into your head.

It can be the first line for a story.

It can be the first line for a poem.

It can be the first line for anything.

Write down a different emotion.

Write down a different first line.

Write down a different image.

Write down another first line.

Write down another emotion.

Write down another image.

Write down an image that is an emotion (i.e. that will act as one).

Write down a first line that is an emotion (i.e. that will act as one).

Write down an image that is a first line (i.e. that will act as one).

Write down the emotion without mentioning the emotion.

Write down a first line that’s nothing but image.

Now remove the image (so that its absence can be felt).

Ok though at some point its all seemed greek to me but on my way home on the bus I started writing this exercise. So bare with me because the outcome seemed so silly to me.

A flower in the morning light

Waiting and anticipating the unknown

I went to work today

A sunny beach and golden sand

My heart is filled with gratitude

I’m right here and now today

Once upon a time a princess

So dark the night without him

This stop is not where I get off

Inspired by the surroundings

It looks so peaceful here tonight

The graves are so grey

It took me so much time

I feel so empty inside

Yellow leaves are falling down

The sky is grey with sadness

As it is full of tears

The greenery all surrounds me

My heart is crushed inside

An empty street at night

Nothing is here today

See, I warned you and told you the result is not satisfactory, so you can comment but no need to be sarcastic alright?!

Training The Eye

Day 06 21/ 11/ 09

Chapter 02

Training the eye by Julia Bell

A good writer must have an eye for details, it’s not just any detail that a writer looks for, it’s the telling detail like the moment when the woman in the chip shop, ordering double egg and chips, dropped her purse and her Weight Watchers membership card fell out.

Describe your world to yourself as you move around it. What best describes your living room? your street? Your town? Who lives here? Write lists of words and phrases and try to be as precise as possible in your observations.

There was no exercise in this one, I just after reading this entry I started to pay attention to all things happening around me and writing them in my notebook.

Still Writing

After long absence I wanted you to know that I was away from the blog but I wasn’t away from the project as I carry with me a notebook to carry out all the work and exercises I have to do and then copy it here so you can read, comment and learn as well.

So I’ll add all the things I’ve done for the past few days in one entry.

Day 03 18/11/09


Second entry by Paul Magras was about how keeping a notebook with you at all times to help you jot down all the things you think of and all the expressions and ideas that you would wish to use in your writing journey, so after I finished work, though I was tired and drained, ran to Tescos and bought a nice little notebook and nice gel pens so it will make writing more appealing to me.

Day 04 19/11/09

Third entry in the first chapter is called ‘on keeping a diary’ and the author, Nicole Ward Jouve mentioned what diaries have been for her, she said,

Diaries were fore here a source of tactile and visual pleasure, a trusted friend and the beginning of mastering one’s own voice in writing.

Reading this entry reminded me of how I used to keep a diary and I wouldn’t go to sleep with out chatting with my trusted imaginary friend called diary but after marriage and after life’s responsibility I left that friend and I thought I can survive on my own but as a matter of fact I need my diaries more than ever because when responsibilities overload me I just want to let it all out and say whatever I want to say, and there is no one ever that makes me say whatever I want to say without being sarcastice, judgmental or critical but my beloved dairies so in the same notebook I bought yesterday, I’ll revive our old little before bed chats and enjoy the company of my trusted friend again.

Day 05 20/11/09

Clearing some space

We still in the first chapter of the book but this entry by Paul Magras wrote how no one will ever write the same things you do because the voice you have when you write its like a finger print its yours and yours a long, so if even identical twins wrote about the same topic they will write different things using different associations and mentioning varied memories.

Set yourself the following task:

You are going to write a page about each of the following topics, don’t let anything intrude on this exercise. No distractions. Don’t even think about it too deeply or try to make much sense.

Write down (in 5 minutes or so for each topic) what you know about:

1. Garden furniture

2. Marilyn Monroe

3. The earth’s core

4. Eagles

5. Fireworks

Ok for this exercise I’ll make another entry so keep on following my project and if you like, hate or even don’t care about what I do let me know.

1. Garden furniture

I wouldn’t claim that I know anything about garden furniture all I know is that in a garden there should be few chairs, a table, and an umbrella and in my opinion there has to be a rocking chair and a swing.

In a nice sunny day, nothing ever is like reading a book while you are setting down on a comfortable rocking chair and beside you a nice hot cup of tea on the table, and nothing is like playing sound of nature in the mp3 player and taking a nap in the swing.

I think I envy the first man because they didn’t have the unhealthy beds that we sleep on now and causes us all these back pains, I wish I can just go to the jungle and sleep on the swing.

2. Marilyn Monroe

I read an article when I was young about how she committed suicide and how miserable and unhappy she was, it made me think, she was very beautiful, she had money, and she was famous what else did she need to make her happy.

Years after I realised that happiness is not in all these thing, happiness in my opinion is to be in peace with your self and with others, to feel content and blessed with what you have no matter how small it is, a thing that I always fail to do that’s why I often feel unhappy.

What I remember about her is the film Niagara falls, the part when she was running up the tower and tried to make a phone call used to be in an intro of one of my favourite programs that used to come every week.

3. The earth’s core

That seems a pretty hot area, all I know about the earth’s core, or let’s say or what I think is that it’s a big ball of solid material like a metal ball, for me this is the only logical explanation for the earth under my feet so solid.

I know that you might think I’m ignorant or silly but what is down there never interested me, actually it frightens me to think about it, I just like to keep the idea in my mind that earth is solid and flat and that the sun revolves around the earth and not the other way around.

4. Eagles

Beautiful birds, it amazes me how Arabs own them as pets, and you see the big massive Arab man with the eagle on his hand. My husband put Zamzam, our crazy kitten, on his arm and keeps on imagining that she is an eagle.

Eagles are honourable animals, they don’t eat dead animals, and they hunt to eat. The fact that they fly so high makes me want to just be an eagle for a day and experience this awesome feeling of freedom and of seeing the world from a very broad view.

5. Fireworks

I never been o fireworks till I came to London and I went two weeks ago to Fireworks in Blackheath, it was awesome; it was one of the best experiences I had since I came to the country.

We went to this big Blackheath field, it’s like the size of two football field and we watched the fireworks for half an hour. When I was there at one point I felt that its not descending on me rather I’m ascending high to touch the heavens, there were all sorts of shapes and colours, though some think it’s a waste of money but if I had money I will rent the whole field and do the fire works only for me and I will just sleep on my back on the ground.

Still Clearing My Throat

Day 02 Tuesday 17/11/09

In the same previous entry by Julia Bell that is called (Clearing your throat) she suggested an exercise to help start writing:

Exercise 02

Try the following exercise either by your self or in a group.

Write down five sounds that you can hear. Then list the things that associate with those sounds. A car engine may remind you of being picked up after school, clanking crockery of that summer you worked at Pizza Pie, an aeroplane of your holiday to Ibiza.

Ok now I need to close my eyes and list 5 sounds and then list the things that are associated with theses sounds.

Sound of the processor and HD inside my lap top

This sound reminds of Amal’s, my sister, lap top when I used to stay up all night at her place google stuff and read things and feeling happy that I can do that from the bed and I don’t have to get up set down in front of the PC that in most cases I used to put in a cold area in the house.

A bus passing by my window

Its strange now how I know from the sound of the bus's engine if it a bus or just a car, yeah I know that is easy and I might not be the only one who knows that but I know from the bus’s engine sound if it is a single or double dock ;)

Also if i heard that sound first thing in the morning i can tell if it is raining outside or if it was raining last night.

The radiator is clicking to balance temperature in the house

Again this reminds me of my sister’s radiator in Zayed because it resembles the one I have now in model, even in the clicking sound it makes to adjust the room temperature, I used to love the feeling when it was very cold outside I would run upstairs to my sister’s flat and the warmth of her house would greet me like a soothing wind and my sister would greet me with an Egyptian hot and sugary cup of tea.

Zamzam, my kitten, is running back and forth in the room

It just reminds me of Zamzam, she is absolutely insane, she keeps running back and forth thinking she is a horse in a horse race.

Zamzam is purring

Which is associated with our cuddly time before both of us go to bed, so its her way to tell me it’s late we need to head to bed now.

Clearing My Throat

Day 1 Monday 16/11/09

Like I mentioned in the previous entry that I will start reading the book ‘the Creative writing course book’ and set a challenge to finish reading the book and do all the exercises or the suggestions mentioned in it in 6 weeks. The book is written by 40 famous and respectable writers and journalists and each one writes an article or an entry to help the readers of the book master the art of writing. As I started reading the first chapter I’ll share with you what I’ve done so far.

Chapter 01- Getting Started

Clearing your throat by Julia Bell

Bell explained how good writing depends on practice and highlighted how the encounter with blank page in the beginning and finding a voice that will carry your thoughts and feelings is often terrifying. Therefore, she suggested the best way to encounter this problem is…to write.

Exercise 01

Start off with notes, fragments, half sentences, until the stuttering stops and you find yourself writing full sentences, paragraphs, pages.

Start off with what you had for tea, the last phone call you made, the colour of your lover’s eyes, your favourite CD. Give yourself a subject and write about it, without stopping or correcting yourself, for five minutes, just generate some pages, a body of work. Then read it yourself.

Looks pretty easy ha?? Hmm…. So I need to come up with a topic now to write about for 5 minutes without stopping or correcting myself…. Ok let me see…what I had for tea…naaa… the last phone call….mmm I’m expecting a phone call from hubby any minute now but I don’t want to write about that… I got an idea there is a program on channel four in 5 minutes I’ll watch it and then I might write about it or think of something interesting to write about and I’ll post it in a separate entry… alright?

I’m back :)

The documentary was really good but I’ll tell you about it later InshaaAllah. I put the pen on the paper for 5 minutes non stop and here is what I wrote.

Feeling my head is pulled down by an immense heavy weight caused by the headache I have. I called my husband at work, while I was dialling the number I felt my eyes are going to pop out my head and sharp pain ran through my forehead.

I wish I can see what happens inside the head when you have a headache. When I was young when people used to say that they suffer from headache, I couldn’t understand the concept of headaches. So I used to act as if I have a headache, narrow my eyes, hold my forehead with my hands, and play ‘I have a headache’ game, I even used to pretend that my sweets, which looked like pills, that they are the pills I take to cure me from my headache.

I think that this make believe or this ‘I have a headache’ game was just a way to feel grown up, to act like grown ups, and behave like them.

I didn’t know back then that I would wish when I’m a grown up to go back and be a headache-less child again.

The Creative Writing Project

Last week I watched a movie called ‘Julie and Julia’ that is about a frustrated with a soul-killing job, Julie Powell, who embarks on a daring project and calls it the Julie/ Julia project where she vows to master all 524 recipes in Julia Childs' landmark cookbook `Mastering the Art of French Cooking’ in a year and shares the recipes and her thoughts about the book and its author with her Blog readers.

There was nothing special about the movie but the fact that Julie was approaching her thirties and she found herself doing a job she hates and realized that her days are passing by and there is nothing in her life makes her happy. After watching the film I started to think that’s me, I’m doing a job I don’t like, I feel that nothing brings me joy anymore and maybe the hundred articles, stories and poems I wanted to write and didn’t write so far because I didn’t really commit my self to it and/or maybe because I yet need to master the writing skill.

Suddenly I was filled with enthusiasm and kept looking for ways to help me master the art of writing and then yesterday I went to the library and borrowed a book called ‘The Creative Writing Course Book’. Today I started reading the book on my way to Taiyybun course and I realised that this going to be my 6 weeks project and I called it The Creative Writing Project.

I’ll read every chapter of this book and I’ll do the exercises or the techniques that are suggested in the book and share what I do or write with you guys. However, I need to put a realistic dead date so I can commit and feel that I achieved something once I’m done, the best time limit I can give to my self would be 6 weeks, why? Because this is the longest period I can borrow the book from the library ;)

So I’ll finish Chapter 1 and I’ll do the exercises and share it with you as I go along, if you want to awaken your writing giant, then come on let’s do the exercises together and share your thoughts with me.

- Silly Ellie