The book provides explanations and exercises which focus on developing specific aspects with the intent of practicing only that particular skill rather than "creating" something like most other writing exercises I've come across. Like making painter focusing on making as many shades of one specific colour as he can and playing with them to see what effects he can make on the canvas. This is an exercise which helps one to learn how colours feel together and what goes well and how shadows develop depth and change perception without actually creating a "piece of artwork." This skill however, will later be used to strengthen and deepen any piece later developed.
I was surprised to see the focus of the first exercise was on sound, something I already wrote a post about last spring and try and work on in my writing anyway. As I worked through it I suddenly had a flash of insight as to why poetry, even for those of us who aren't as good at it, helps improve my prose. The sounds in poetry go together making the poem easy and enjoyable to listen to, as is good prose. So it logically follows that listening to poetry helps attune ones ear to the way the sounds work together which then spills over into ones prose.
The following is my attempt at the first exercise in LeGuin's book. And although it's not the best thing I've written. I found it interesting to see how my writing changed from the beginning to the end and the crazy direction my thoughts took.
Deep fried dough filled with whipping cream dripping from the side in a solid white froth. Topped in chocolate icing and edged in fluffy white with cherries on top.
Oh to sink my teeth into the cool sweet gooey treat and see the foam slipping back onto the plate in ooey gooey gobs of whipped fancy.
Who can resist a white trimmed mustache made of a whipped creamy fill and chocolate on a deep fried bun. Not I. It's cool squishy sweet coats my tongue and slips wildly down my throat to the nether regions below on a southern expedition where the penguins roll and the snows blow across the great white icy expanse people refer to as the south pole.
Not quite an eclair, but just as pretty.