I attend a writer's workshop sponsored by a local library and led by a writer friend. Why, you ask, do you attend a workshop when you have ghostwritten twenty-one business books and published three novels? For what do you need a workshop?
I do not believe I need a workshop. I do believe I can still learn something, that I can be stimulated to try something new. One of the new things I tried is an exercise called "Make Something of It."
Take a list of random phrases and turn them into sentences in a poem, a story, an essay. In each case, the subject and verb must appear in which they appear in the list. Their relationship must remain the same and they must appear in the order in which they are listed. Beyond that you are invited to decorate or elaborate upon the sentence as you will. Can you make something of the following?
The twins bled.
The Volkswagen lurched.
The mountains glowed.
The children wept.
Bruce felt down.
Not easy, is it? Here—without boring you about my struggle to hammer the phrases into some semblance of sense and coherence—is what I was able to come up with:
Springtime mattered because without it
We perish in the boundless ice.
Sophie recoiled at the vision
Of winter interminable.
As the twins bled, their feet raw,
And the Volkswagen lurched
Through slushy ruts,
The mountains glowed, indifferent,
While the children wept in the dusk.
Wayne stole kindling, firewood.
Alice tripped at the threshold.
Run, Sue, run! Fetch a burning ember!
Bruce felt down at the sight of living flame.
Scott breathed wood smoke, perfume
In the warming air.
Good luck coming up with your own version.