botching up taking an open online creative writing course from Iowa Writer’s workshop. It is in its last week, and after doing the first two classes, I mostly missed out on all the others. I traveled, worked on stuff at home, basically did anything but write.
I’ve missed the deadline for the writing assignment in the last class, so I thought I would make a fool of myself by doing it here, in public. Here’s the assignment:
Write a scene of ten sentences and include in each sentence a numeral. If you’ve reached ten sentences and you’d like to keep going, you can make this a scene of twenty sentences, or thirty — the idea is just to write within this pattern. Example: On the day my town flooded, I was ten years old. It was four o’clock in the morning. In the darkness, right before I heard the water coming, two roosters crowed.
And here’s my attempt:
Shut your mouth or I’ll kill you, he’d said, on day one at the camp, the day they brought his brother in. After a month, when opening his schoolbag, I found three packets of white powder, larger than the packs salt came in, but much smaller than the packs of sugar.
I found these in your bag, I said to him two days later, when I felt able to look him square in his bloodshot eyes.
He snatched them from my hand, slammed them on the table, and banged it with his stringy hands: You listen to me, woman, he said, though his thirteen-year-old body wasn’t yet as tall as mine, You listen to me good. I’m tired of eating your kabsa and your kushary, and I’m tired of Abba’s begging for rations– give me one month, and I’ll sort this all out.
You listen to me, son, I said, making the tremble in my voice a scream of anger, not fear, as my mind whispered the ninety-nine names of Allah.
I ignored the bulge in his pockets, tried not to think of the steel they hid, the two spitfires that made his voice so loud, and the new masked bosses who had given them to him.
Now there he lies, six months later, one dead body minus its head, the two spitfires on his chest, folded in prayer.
Shut your mouth, I tell the Mullah at the funeral, He may be the One and Only, but He has taken a mother’s sons from her.
They’ll kill me soon, maybe in twelve hours when night falls, but I’ll use each of those hours, each minute, taking my boys’ names, and I won’t take their names in vain.
So that was some fiction on my blog, the first time in six months, I think.
Have you ever taken an online creative writing course from Iowa? Have ever written exercises with constraints in mind? Did the constraints of my assignment overwhelm the piece above? Would you like to do a similar 10-line writing exercise (fiction/ nonfiction) and post it on your blog?