On several occasions, I have had the delightful fortune of participating in a weekend writing workshop led by a treasure of a writer, teacher, and human being. It is a gift to be in Katerina’s presence, though some of her writing assignments do manage to elicit groans.
In Katerina’s workshop, you can be sure to find one particular exercise. On a flip chart, she provides a list of fifteen or so words with the guidance to write a piece including as many of them as possible. Some of the words are challenging in their own right; to attempt putting them together in any sort of coherent structure is daunting, especially with a brief time limit. The exercise is always good for a laugh.
These were the words we were assigned to incorporate into our writing in the most recent workshop I attended. (Don’t be embarrassed if you have to look up one or two—most of the writers did, as well.)
conjecture contusion kleptocrat polyglot polymath cogitate divulge strangulate imminent eminent vicissitudes
salubrious sallow phlegmatic congenial syncope
I decided to have a little fun with this one. Never mind that it will never win any awards—I was happy enough to get in all the words in our limited time. Here’s the result.
* * * * *
A polymath, polyglot, and kleptomaniac walked into a bar [drumroll, please], one vaping; another striking a match to light a bent pipe, a habit she claimed was salubrious; while the third was flicking a lighter for no apparent reason.
The phlegmatic barkeep was congenial but dubious as he cogitated on this odd threesome. One too smart for her own britches, one able to speak every language except street talk, the third a crook of the lowest order. What were they up to?
The imminent arrival of the eminent polygamist physician made the mixologist nervous as he conjectured what might happen once his sallow pyromaniac assistant, who was suspicious of the doc and despised elitists of all stripes, returned from the storeroom.
His anxiety was not unfounded, though the brawl that ensued was not the outcome he had feared. The arrival of the MD, however, turned out to be opportune.
It was later divulged that the polymath’s contusion resulted from a fall precipitated by her syncope rather than by the strangulation prompted by her smart mouth.
Such are the vicissitudes of life.